Lies, selfishness, surviving, hope, trauma and honesty are at the biggest market of Hulu‘s latest dark-comedy movie, Not Okay, and the film also shines a glaring light on the energy of social media marketing and total self-destruction.
Not Okay, directed and developed by Quinn Shephard follows the story of Danni Sanders (played by Zoey Deutch) a 20-something millennial who, rather than staying true to herself, pretends to visit Paris in a bid to impress office hot boy, Colin (Dylan O’Brien).
Danni, who’s an experienced photo editor for fictional NY magazine, Depravity, begins by photoshopping images of herself in Paris, living, what is apparently, her best life.
However, rather than facing reality, when Paris is struck by deadly terrorist attacks and folks mistake her as a survivor, Danni decides to roll with the lies, fabricating a complete story about her trauma.
She even takes it as far as to wait a trauma counseling session, where she meets school-shooting survivor Rowan (Mia Isaac).
Rather than telling Rowan the reality, Danni leeches off her trauma, making it her very own. Almost simultaneously, audiences oddly commence to see Danni turn into a bit more of an improved person. Through her friendship with Rowan, it really is almost just like a glimpse of what her life could possibly be like, who she could possibly be, if she thought we would focus on herself and be, quite frankly, an improved person.
Talking with Newsweek about Danni’s journey, creator and director Quinn Shephard said: “I believe Danny does not have a normal protagonist arc, that was very intentional, for the reason that she begins sort of bad, she becomes much worse. And I believe there’s lots of heart compared to that because as she gets nearer to Rowan, both of us see her have the seeds of ‘oh, she could maybe be considered a better person through this friendship’ and in addition for the reason that friendship, she actually is outwardly leeching from and exploiting Rowan.
“So it is that combination of watching it and both like rooting on her behalf to grow and in addition recognizing in my own mind, at the very least, the film is wanting to comment on the truth that she must not be attempting to grow through Rowan, she must make an effort to grow through herself and doing that’s inherently exploitation of Rowan.”
Just when audiences are beginning to (type of) like Danni, needlessly to say, the reality quickly catches up with her and she actually is exposed by her colleague. Danni decides to create the truth within an article for Depravity, without talking to Rowan first.
Because of her lies, not merely did Danni lose her job and the respect of others, but she also lost the main one true friend she had in Rowan.
By the end of Not Okay, Danni plucks up the courage to handle Rowan, who’s performing spoken word at an open talent show. She’s typed an enormous apology on her behalf phone, nonetheless it is unknown if she’ll read it to Rowan or let Rowan read it for herself.
Danni will not even get that far, as Rowan delivers a beautifully raw poem about her trauma and her relationship with Danni.
She ends her performance by powerfully stating “I am hoping you realize using this method, you’ve only given me more to state. So maybe, 1 day, I’ll absolve you but we shall never be okay.”
Shephard explained how by the finish of the film, Rowan may be the main character and she actually is the main one who gets the happy ending.
“I really like using what I love to call a secret protagonist […], a character that will come in within an unexpected way appears like they will be considered a supporting character and purely such as a foil for the lead and you truly let that evolve in the film,” Shephard said.
“We tried plenty of different versions of the ending in various test screenings then one that immediately clicked for me personally concerning the way we’ve chosen to get rid of the film and what people’s a reaction to it had been, is that ultimately, we really recognize that Rowan may be the hero and it’s really Rowan, who’s gone on a protagonist’s journey in the story, in fact it is about hearing her voice and her words and feeling a hope that she is going to be okay, after precisely what Danni did to her.”
Shephard continued: “That provides us a version of a happy ending but it isn’t a happy ending for Danni, I don’t believe it is a hopeless ending though. I believe with Danni you obtain that initial glimmer that she might grow, and we’re out because she’s no more the protagonist. At that time, she realizes she’s to avoid centering herself in the story. She’s not necessarily the primary character.”
Ultimately, Danni walks out from the theater, struggling to face Rowan, which Shephard believes may be the first right thing she’s done in the complete movie.
Shephard said: “I believe my intention with the film by the end is for there never to be redemption, but also for there to be hope. In my own mind, in her final moments, she finally makes one right choice in the complete movie, she makes one great decision however in my mind, it’s what she does at the end.
“I definitely think there’s expect Danni, I believe to imagine that folks can never grow, change or reflect is crazy, even though I don’t believe you need to just let people off the hook for behavior such as this, I also just don’t believe we ought to define people for the others of these lives by their worst decisions.
“So my hope is in the event that you see yourself in Danni once you watch this movie, you’ll feel just like, ‘if I listen, and I’m quiet for another and think about what I’ve done, maybe I could grow.'”
THE CHOICE Ending
Although Danni didn’t have the normal happy ending, Shephard believes it really is one filled up with hope.
However, Shephard did have alternative endings at heart.
She shared: “We shot two alternate endings, neither which come in the film, ” she said. “I’ll say these were endings which were not happy, that truly just saw Danni face a lot more brutal consequences on her behalf actions and, while in writing, it felt like those endings would provoke the audience to question ‘What do we do with somebody like Danni as a society?’, in execution in the cut of the film, they felt as though the film was saying there may be no hope or redemption if you have made mistakes such as this.
“It didn’t feel just like the proper statement because that’s not what we were attempting to say therefore ultimately cutting it landed the statement we wished to create a lot harder.”
Shephard continued: “Ultimately…I didn’t desire to give her character a redemption arc because I believe it might be letting her off the hook much too easily on her behalf actions and I believe satire is ultimately more about leaving a statement than simply a normal protagonist arc.
“However the last act of the film is actually about discussing what do we do as a society with people like Danni, and when we have been Danni, so what can we do? And I believe we do result in a hopeful place, but it’s definitely not a happy ending if which makes sense.”
Not Okay is streaming on Hulu now.