– Written by Zainab Kagalwala
Alexa & Katie is not only a TV series about best friends but goes beyond that initial soul sister impression. It’s an uplifting watch which might sound depressing from the looks of it, but I will travel ends of this earth to prove that it is a feel-good, light-hearted, funny, witty, and wishful as bingeing Brooklyn nine-nine. This TV series made me laugh, cry and turn my hopes up for a similar best friendsy story. Do not get me wrong when I say that because Alexa & Katie does not fall in the category of watch-but-can-never-have or cringe-because-this-is-so-made-up.
The show never stops being interesting, hopeful, awakening or hilarious. It chronicles the daily life struggles of two teenage girls and their intertwined families who dwell not more than a backyard away from each other. It starts on a saddening note of Alexa: the main protagonist (played by Paris Berelc), dealing with cancer and her best friend Katie (played by Isabel May) who undergoes the whole experience with her. In the pilot episode, we are also introduced to Alexa’s protective and nurturing parents, Lori and Dave, her self-obsessed, affectionate older brother, Lucas, Katie’s sarcastic mother, Jennifer, and Jack-her little, hyperactive brother. With a dash of humour and a blend of sentiment, the series kindles a swift spark in you to aspire, achieve, make new friends and also be one to those who have stuck by you no matter what.
The first two seasons draw on how Alexa copes with being diagnosed with cancer while still being in high school, how Katie shaves off her head just so Alexa wouldn’t be the odd one out and how they find a piece of themselves in each other. When life gets to them, they sit in their cosy retreat up in the treetops, smack in the middle of their lawns−basking in each other’s company and soaking up some quietude. We also see a little bit of Dylan, Lucas’ best friend, and some-some of Hannah and Reagan, Alexa & Katie’s friends throughout the show. Mean girl, Gwenny, nemesis to Alexa and then to Katie also plays a riveting role in Netflix’s original series.
The series gains momentum in season three’s first episode which features Alexa and Katie in a counselling session where they trace their actions, thoughts and behaviour from the beginning of the day to the point where Alexa and Katie struck up a fight. I have to admit that while streaming this episode I wasn’t very sure if this season would be as good as the other two and I was sceptical about completing it. Halfway through the second, I still found myself having mixed feelings towards season 3 because I thought that it was probably just going to go on all gooey and definitely-doesn’t-happen-in-real-life till the summation.
Two things about episode two which caused me to have a change-of-heart and probed me to watch further were:
- The stupid binder incident. Alexa’s reactions on coming to terms with the news that she would still have to make regular visits to the hospital and check up on her health because cancer could return perfectly summarizes the painful journey of having to deal with a long-term chronic illness. It realistically portrays the effect which non-victims of cancer will never be able to place.
- The introduction of Spencer’s character (I assure you that you will not regret continuing the series, one of the obvious reasons being SPENCER).
Another heartfelt scene which got me hooked was when Katie’s mother, a counsellor, explains why Alexa wants to learn to drive even though she’s still not gotten the hang of it as throughout cancer she was told what to do and what not to do and to her, this driver’s permit, felt like her rite of passage straight into adulthood and far away from cancer’s gut-wrenching hold.
Other such events which are notoriously feel-good and inspired- Katie’s cookie crook, Alexa’s parents making flashcards for Alexa’s brother to help him study and Alexa’s emotions when Spencer opens up one family dinner about his journey with cancer. All of these moments are so realistic and smile-inducing that they light you up from the inside and make you appreciate all of those people in your life you take for granted and all the little things they do.
A simple, plain and unadulterated reel of when and how Alexa gets through with cancer, how Katie is instantaneously always by her side and almost first-hand endures the doctor appointments and therapy sessions WITH ALEXA; despite her problems.