We’ve seen television series in recent years about adolescents endeavoring to portray characters who are dejected, anguished, defeated by their own dilemmas. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a show for the general public, like “13 Reasons Why”, where the protagonist, Clay, lived mired in sadness, or if it’s a more trailblazing series for adolescents, like “Euphoria”, where the star also falls deep into the abyss, in her case aided by drug addiction. The voice-over is probably the greatest give away for those teenagers who’s constantly talking to themselves about their insecurities and doubts. That’s why the boisterous arrival on the scenario of “Wayne” is so welcome. It’s a series starring a teenager who, basically, has his wires crossed. He’s irate, angry at almost everyone, as he should be at this point in his life, and manifests this through dishing out decibels and punches, being feared in high school as a difficult kid, accumulates expulsions like brownie badges and who others have already learned to avoid.

This doesn’t mean that Wayne isn’t a good kid. In fact, he often gets into trouble for defending others. He has a sense of justice that is as rigid as it is uncompromising and cannot sit idly by when he perceives injustice or when something just isn’t right. A man who’s treating his girlfriend badly, a father who tells his son that he’s an idiot. The urge for justice is greater than he can deal with. He goes for a hammer, a baseball bat, whatever, to smite the jerk mercilessly. The origin of this inability to ignore these things is what the series is really about, which takes the character on a trip with a girl, Del, whom he saves from a dysfunctional family, in search of a car that was stolen from his father. It’s like “The End of the F***ing World” but with blood in its veins, with two characters trying to find their place in the world as they leave a trail of bruised and battered bodies in their wake. The tandem works wonders because while he’s the quiet type, she’s a master with the quickfire and hurtful comments. While one uses knuckles, the other strikes with her verbal uppercuts to the chin. The resulting  love story between them is, despite being somewhat predictable, a necessary driving force for a story in which several antagonists meet and is also the only thing that convinces the character of Wayne, as a teenager abandoned and betrayed by life, not to throw in the towel altogether. It is this abandonment that causes him to generate the illusion of an imaginary father figure that takes the form of Conan the Barbarian, which he employs as a kind of life coach to guide himself and avoid going off the rails.

But even though the character has life conflicts like these, as in the series already mentioned, he manages to avoid the pitfalls of self-indulgent introspection. There is always a desire to crash and burn everything, and this is what separates Wayne definitely from the rest. The character is a black sheep, but the series is also of a dark genre, a fact that’s reflected with a wild and furious tone also written into the soundtrack, full of heavy metal tunes that contrast with the type of songs we’d usually expect to find in teen series, and followed by violence, which erupts in Tarantinesque scenes and that contrasts with the listlessness of most of his fellow human beings. Perhaps this is the reason why “Wayne” went unnoticed in its premiere as a YouTube original series, unlike what happened with “Cobra Kai”, which was later picked up by Netflix, reaching an even larger audience. Good old Wayne didn’t have the same luck but has now been rescued from possible premature oblivion by Filmin, where the first season is available. Unfortunately, the story wasn’t wrapped up in this one season and I say unfortunately because after being canceled on YouTube, it’ll be a seriously uphill climb for the show to continue. However, if it’s a teen series you’re after where you won’t hear Billie Eilish songs and where their protagonist wouldn’t be caught dead wasting his time taking selfies and posting on Instagram, then you can rest assured you’ll find what you’re looking for in “Wayne”.

Toni de la Torre. TV series critic. Toni works in ‘El Matí de Catalunya Ràdio’, El Temps, Què fem, Ara Criatures, Sàpiens and he also collaborates in TV3 magazine show ‘Tot es mou’. Author of several books on television series and a lecturer at the Barcelona Screenwriters and Showrunners school and in his free time, he likes to give conference on series. Highlights include Premi Bloc de Catalunya 2014.