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Bo Burnham's 'Eighth Grade' Is for Anyone Who Had Social Anxiety as a Kid

Eighth grade is an awkward time for most people, and sometimes there’s a lot of pressure to fit in. For those with social anxiety, it can be even harder. In the new film, “Eighth Grade,” Kayla is finishing her last week of eighth grade, where she was voted “most quiet” out of her class.

Though she’s able to express herself and talk more on her YouTube channel, she has trouble connecting with other kids in real life. In the trailer, she says she’s “nervous all the time” and tries to not feel like that.

During the last week of middle school, Kayla decides to push herself out of her comfort zone. She makes a list of things she wants such as confidence and a best friend.

Social media plays a huge part in “Eighth Grade,” and it only compounds Kayla’s anxiety and fear of judgment. Even if social media wasn’t a big component while you were in school, you might relate to Kayla tripping over her words when talking to other kids, and struggling to come out of her shell.

Elsie Fisher, the 15-year-old actress who plays Kayla, told Mic she deals with social anxiety like her character.

“I thought my experience was very, very unique, but not in a good way,” she said of her time in middle school. “I’m like, ‘I’m the only person who feels weird and quiet and bleh.’”

“Eighth Grade” was written and directed by Bo Burnham, a comedian who got his start on YouTube at the age of 16. Now 27, he’s written a film about a teenage girl, but he relates a lot to her anxiety and loneliness.

“We’re very similar people in personality, and he’s one of the few people I’ve met who really understands my level of anxiety, because he shares that,” Fisher told Mic.

“Eighth Grade” is currently playing in New York and Los Angeles with a larger rollout to come.