Review: 'Genera+ion' a Joyful Exploration of Queer-Friendly 'Zoomers'

by Noe Kamelamela

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Thursday March 11, 2021

'Genera+ion'  (Source:HBO Max)

If self-reported polls are to be believed, Generation Z, or Zoomers, is the most queer-friendly generation in America today.

"GENERA+ION" leans into the California teenage experience as seen through the stories of high schoolers in a Gender and Sexuality Alliance. The meetings and interactions between these erstwhile queer and queer-adjacent youngsters prove they are living in a world that, while less overtly terrible to everyone in the alphabet mafia versus a generation ago, is still just as difficult to live through as any other time period.

This show is not meant to be enjoyed by parents or any older folks - I'm not even sure teenagers will enjoy it. I found it slightly re-traumatizing, even though my teen years were over a decade ago. What is joyfully hilarious about this show is that I am probably... definitely... the annoying adult who is trying to help, but is not actually helping.

One common flaw in many shows with youth is that there are no adults present in their lives, or at least on screen. No, no, there are adults present. Are they helpful? Do they mean well?

The answers for those questions are spot on regarding intention and assistance. I would recommend that parents watch this before allowing their children to watch: There is sexual behavior, substance use, and frank discussions of mental health issues.

While I do think all teenagers could benefit from seeing or experiencing this kind of content outside their own lives to help them identify and understand different points of view, not every kid will appreciate or enjoy it.

Justice Smith as Chester shines as an ostentatious, moody, brilliant boy. He's tender, sensitive, flirty, beautiful, and seems nonplussed, but there is something bubbling beneath the surface as he continually pushes up against gender, sexuality, and general restrictions that the surrounding kids seem to accept. Maybe that acceptance is less acceptance than weariness.

Certainly, other members of the GSA, like Greta (Haley Sanchez) or Nathan (Uly Schlesinger), are trying to make it through high school by flying under the radar, even if everyone seems to know everything since every single person in their social network has an internet enabled mobile device on them at all times.

While I'm happy to see more than one character be diverse in some direction, such that no single character seems like a token, some of the show's main topics are perhaps dated or fall under special episode guidelines. At its best, the series tells stories that mix sarcasm, honesty, and level, non-judgmental gaze.

"GENERA+ION" streams on HBO Max starting March 11th.

Noe Kamelamela is a reader who reads everything and a writer who writes very little.