Not Okay, Not Okay
August 2, 2022 7:06 AM   Subscribe

"This film contains flashing lights, themes of trauma, and an unlikable female protagonist" "Hulu issued a faux content warning joking that influencer satire film “Not Okay” features an “unlikable female protagonist,” and viewers took to social media to share their puzzlement at… not getting the joke." It is now being called a "meta-joke" ... "it’s meant to be cultural commentary about disagreeable women characters being worthy of a mature-content disclaimer on the order of, say, exploding-head violence or graphic nudity." (Variety) Plot summary within.

"Here’s the movie’s synopsis: “Not Okay” follows Danni Sanders (Deutch), an aimless aspiring writer with no friends, no romantic prospects and — worst of all — no followers, who fakes an Instagram-friendly trip to Paris in the hopes of boosting her social media clout. When a terrifying incident strikes the City of Lights, Danni unwittingly falls into a lie bigger than she ever imagined. She “returns” a hero, even striking up an unlikely friendship with Rowan (Mia Isaac), a school-shooting survivor dedicated to societal change, and scooping up the man of her dreams, Colin (Dylan O’Brien). As an influencer and advocate, Danni finally has the life and audience she always wanted. But it’s only a matter of time before the façade cracks, and she learns the hard way that the internet loves a takedown."
posted by geoff. (45 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
That's hilarious, makes me want to watch this!
posted by medusa at 7:11 AM on August 2 [1 favorite]


I didn't know the premise of the film or anyone in it when I watched it, so I too was fooled. I can assure you the content warning wasn't all fake, there was trauma and the protagonist was unlikeable but not in a provocative or thought provoking way. I'm definitely not the demographic this movie is targeting but it makes me wonder who exactly it is targeting, conservative influencers? People who get Bushwick J-train vs L-train jokes but are also died-in-wool anti-woke types?
posted by geoff. at 7:17 AM on August 2 [2 favorites]


I'm definitely not the demographic this movie is targeting but it makes me wonder who exactly it is targeting, conservative influencers? People who get Bushwick J-train vs L-train jokes but are also died-in-wool anti-woke types?

"Influencers, amirite?" That crowd.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:26 AM on August 2


I've seen the promo for this but not yet watched, now I most likely will not. I've also been quite keen on film for most of my life...

This appears to fall into a modern genre of film (or capital F "Film" if you're Martin Scorsese) where the charters are terrible and unlikable and they make terrible decisions and everything goes to shit. The End That's it. It's a modern storytelling that I just can't watch, the slow unfolding of peoples lives unraveling and how they (often) remain complicit in their own personal destruction.

I just wince when I find myself in front of one of these films and wonder - "really, what is entertaining about this?" are they Modern Tragedies? or just kind of gross indulgences that find an audience who like to feel superior to the characters?

-I'd be happy to listen to whatever others have to offer, because it can't be just me..
posted by djseafood at 7:32 AM on August 2 [28 favorites]


Wholeheartedly agree with the above comment from djseafood. This seems like the filmic equivalent of literary fiction, where contemporary events and unlikable characters are thrown together to form a conclusion that supports the status quo of contemporary society, in a way that allows the consumer of the narrative to feel smug.
posted by The River Ivel at 7:39 AM on August 2 [19 favorites]


where the charters are terrible and unlikable and they make terrible decisions and everything goes to shit. The End That's it. It's a modern storytelling

the Iliad tho
posted by gwint at 7:42 AM on August 2 [57 favorites]


There are tens of thousands of dyed-in-wool anti-woke types with an intimate knowledge of the Brooklyn train system - Chasidm!

BRB - just have to write up a pitch for a show where a young Chasidic woman becomes a viral right-wing blogger/TikToker and gets pulled into the right wing media machine to the consternation of her mother, rabbi, and left-wing brother.
posted by MattD at 7:47 AM on August 2 [12 favorites]


I would totally watch a television show about a young Hasidic Jew that drinks Kusmi tea and tweets jokes about SJWs!
posted by geoff. at 7:57 AM on August 2 [1 favorite]


I don't understand "watch this trainwreck" media either. I've put down dozens of books at one point or the other where I come to the conclusion that I just don't care what happens to the people in it. The author has failed to interest me in the characters. The most recent one I was probably 80% done and the denouement was spooling up and I said, "I just don't fucking care," and tossed it on the back-to-the-library pile.

It's interesting because my partner has even less tolerance for shitty characters than me. It was a real effort to get them past the first few episodes of The Good Place, for example. I, who had watched the entire first season before trying to get them into it, had to assure them that there is redemption, and ultimately we loved the series. We would not have watched four seasons of the main characters just being shitty to each other.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:58 AM on August 2 [6 favorites]


Shistel American adaptation anyone?
posted by stevil at 7:58 AM on August 2 [1 favorite]


I don't understand "watch this trainwreck" media either. I've put down dozens of books at one point or the other where I come to the conclusion that I just don't care what happens to the people in it. The author has failed to interest me in the characters.

But that is two different axes: being likeable or not versus being interesting or not. The Sopranos got all the glory, but HBO’s first foray into serial drama was the prison drama Oz a couple of years earlier. Tom Fontana has said HBO gave him the absolute best note a show writer can receive: “We done care of the characters are likeable, but make them interesting.” Done and done.

As for unusual and misunderstood credits, I am trying to recall a movie I saw at least 25 years ago, which had, near the very end of the end credits, the usual ASPCA note with a small addendum. It read something to the effect, “All animal action in this film was monitored by the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. No animals were harmed in the making of this movie. Human action was not monitored and casualties were extensive.”
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:12 AM on August 2 [7 favorites]


The set up reminds me of Spree. Lonely ride share driver looking to become a social media star/influencer but no followers finds a way to become a star
posted by NoMich at 8:13 AM on August 2 [1 favorite]


The warning reads to me like it's meant for people who found Emily in Paris (which I haven't watched) cringey and insufferable.
posted by LionIndex at 8:18 AM on August 2 [1 favorite]


In the Mouth of Madness: "Animal interaction was monitored by the American Humane Association with on set supervision by the Toronto Humane Society. No animal was harmed in the making of this film. Human interaction was monitored by the Inter Planetary Psychiatric Association. The body count was high, the casualties are heavy."
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:22 AM on August 2 [18 favorites]


where the charters are terrible and unlikable and they make terrible decisions and everything goes to shit.

This feels like a fairly apt description of the last 5-6 years in the US.
posted by thivaia at 8:22 AM on August 2 [3 favorites]


I'll wholeheartedly acknowledge that it's not a unique method to the present - I think the description of Oz is very apt, at least make them interesting, again it won't be universal as interesting is subjective. What I'm trying to put my finger on is the current trend of finding "cringey" or "repellent" and really leaning into it.

Kinda like a choose your own adventure book that has no good options AND is actively out to show you how bad it can get without resolution.
posted by djseafood at 8:23 AM on August 2 [1 favorite]


I just watched a four-part miniseries in which there would have been no story at all if the characters had just TALKED TO EACH OTHER. Instead they all did a terrible job of hiding things from each other and spent the whole time sniping, arguing, overreacting, jumping to awful (and wrong) conclusions, and just generally being horrible people being horrible to each other. If I'd been using it as anything more than background noise to keep my brain from eating itself with worry, I doubt I'd have got through the first episode. (Went looking for reviews, afterwards, expecting to find everyone else enthusiastic, and ha, no, consensus is that it's dreadful. So at least I had company in my misery.)
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 8:27 AM on August 2 [3 favorites]


just have to write up a pitch for a show where a young Chasidic woman becomes a viral right-wing blogger/TikToker and gets pulled into the right wing media machine to the consternation of her mother, rabbi, and left-wing brother.

The person behind the vile "Libs of TikTok" account slash burgeoning right wing media empire had previously identified herself as an Orthodox Jewish woman from Brooklyn, so it's already a thing.
posted by BungaDunga at 8:30 AM on August 2 [7 favorites]


This sounds like Dear Evan Hansen but for girls.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 8:33 AM on August 2


I yelled out loud when I saw that dumb disclaimer. I took at as some "anti-woke" nonsense.
posted by tiny frying pan at 8:35 AM on August 2


I don't know that I'd watch the show, but one about a Jewish character (gender and denomination can be whatever) who gets involved with the far right and finds there are a lot of anti-semites would be interesting.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 8:37 AM on August 2


no story at all if the characters had just TALKED TO EACH OTHER

This seems to be the most common trope that the last couple years that streaming TV has thrown at us... "The Umbrella Academy" is the literal worst for this. It's a cheap way to prolong things and create faux-drama.
posted by rozcakj at 8:40 AM on August 2 [7 favorites]


Being that the movie depicts a white woman using a Black woman's trauma for her own glory, I'd say it's not so much anti-woke as it is anti-white slacktivism.
posted by LindsayIrene at 8:42 AM on August 2 [8 favorites]


but one about a Jewish character (gender and denomination can be whatever) who gets involved with the far right and finds there are a lot of anti-semites would be interesting.

Well then has _nevermind_ got a fancy puppet show for you.
posted by NoThisIsPatrick at 8:54 AM on August 2


Whether characters are likeable may influence whether I'm in the particular mood to spend time with them at any given moment, but it's weird as a measure of literary merit or even of readability. Of course, there has to be some reason to care about the events (however defined) of the book, and some authors seem to mistakenly think "these are people like me" is a sufficient reason for anyone but themselves.
posted by praemunire at 9:30 AM on August 2 [7 favorites]


This appears to fall into a modern genre of film (or capital F "Film" if you're Martin Scorsese) where the charters are terrible and unlikable and they make terrible decisions and everything goes to shit. The End That's it.

This is why even though I usually find something to enjoy in the Coen Brothers' movies, I absolutely HATED Inside Llewyn Davis and was mystified at the universal critical adoration of it
posted by cubeb at 9:42 AM on August 2 [4 favorites]


This seems to be the most common trope that the last couple years that streaming TV has thrown at us..

It's way older than that. LOST would have 1 season if people actually talked. Instead, everyone kept their cards close to their chest, with a lot of blustering about how asking for an explanation was the same as a lack of trust.

I've just internalized that TV shows exist in a universe where people are bad at communicating, because people who are effective communicators don't end up in this sort of drama.
posted by explosion at 9:46 AM on August 2 [6 favorites]


In the Mouth of Madness:

That sounds pretty close to correct, FoB, but I have never seen In the Mouth of Madness. Weird. Eerie.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:54 AM on August 2 [2 favorites]


Being that the movie depicts a white woman using a Black woman's trauma for her own glory, I'd say it's not so much anti-woke as it is anti-white slacktivism.

Yikes. Double "do not watch."
posted by tiny frying pan at 10:56 AM on August 2


> This seems to be the most common trope that the last couple years that streaming TV has thrown at us..

It's way older than that. LOST would have 1 season if people actually talked.


It's way older than Lost as well. About 25% of classic Hollywood "romances" have this as a trope.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:04 AM on August 2 [5 favorites]


where the charters are terrible and unlikable and they make terrible decisions and everything goes to shit.

This is Breaking Bad in a nutshell, and The Sopranos (and no doubt a bunch of notable others), both shows I didn't stick with because I could see where they were headed and redemption was not the place.

But NOT OKAY is just a movie, ninety minutes or two hours of my time (not seasons stretching over years). I love its basic premise in that I love a good satire that simultaneously captures a particular zeitgeist and pulls the rug out from it. But it follows that this is not easy to do at all. Satire's like that.

Unfortunately the trailer doesn't exactly give me hope. It more or less tells the whole story and that's long been a giveaway for me that the movie in question just isn't that good. If you can narrow it all down to two-minutes-forty-seconds of story beats, I'm not about to waste ninety minutes or two hours of my life on it.
posted by philip-random at 11:29 AM on August 2 [3 favorites]


It's way older than Lost as well. About 25% of classic Hollywood "romances" have this as a trope.

Allow me to introduce you to the novelist Frances Burney (1752-1840), whose works feature characters having infinite scruples at infinite lengths.
posted by thomas j wise at 12:31 PM on August 2 [2 favorites]


About 25% of classic Hollywood "romances" have this as a trope.

It's way older than that too. Shakespeare's full of it. Dramatic irony, where the audience knows something the characters don't, is a basic building block of drama. It's not bad in itself. It's best when it's used to heighten and complicate some situation that's dramatic in itself: the king is dead! the aliens are invading! my long lost identical twin has reappeared! Misunderstandings about boring stuff is just everyday life.
posted by echo target at 12:35 PM on August 2 [6 favorites]


I absolutely HATED Inside Llewyn Davis and was mystified at the universal critical adoration of it

Quoted for truth. Love the Cohen Brothers generally except for that one notable exception. I just did not get it.
posted by Bella Donna at 1:22 PM on August 2


I think that the content warning is in the same spirit as subtitling a book "A Novel without a Hero", but unfortunately for Hulu, the people this would most appeal to are busy with HBO Max, where there are truly great takes on the Bad People Making Bad Decisions genre.
posted by betweenthebars at 1:41 PM on August 2


It's way older than Lost as well.

Same principle applies in comedy. A writer on Cheers once remarked that the one question you must never ask at a story conference is: "Why wouldn't Sam just call Diane and straighten this whole thing out?". The second you pull on that thread, your whole plot unravels and you have to start again from scratch.
posted by Paul Slade at 1:42 PM on August 2 [2 favorites]


I've just internalized that TV shows exist in a universe where people are bad at communicating

This is (part of) my "struggling vs bumbling" test. Are the characters experiencing conflict because things are complicated and difficult, or because they make stupid and unfathomable decisions? The former is watchable, all other thing being equal. The latter is not.
posted by krisjohn at 2:26 PM on August 2 [7 favorites]


the current trend of finding "cringey" or "repellent" and really leaning into it

See also everything by Todd Solondz, and the whole subgenre Arrested Development / The Office / Portlandia and the like fall into.

It all just feels…. Mean. Like if you dislike human people so much why do you make movies about them?
posted by ook at 2:59 PM on August 2 [2 favorites]


because they make stupid and unfathomable decisions? The former is watchable, all other thing being equal. The latter is not.

I wish human beings didn't routinely make stupid and unfathomable decisions, but...we really do. This drives a good one-third of horror (and I don't just mean "why did that panicking person run into the basement???"). Think of The Wicker Man, or my personal nomination for scariest short story ever, "Sandkings."
posted by praemunire at 3:14 PM on August 2 [1 favorite]


the current trend of finding "cringey" or "repellent" and really leaning into it - See also everything by Todd Solondz, and the whole subgenre Arrested Development / The Office / Portlandia and the like fall into.

Interesting examples ook - because I wouldn't use AD/Office/Portlandia as the comedy (subjective) shows I'd cite, I'd say Eric Andre would be close to the (again) comedy I'd say parallels this -

It's the VERY SERIOUS MOVIE types that I'm just constantly struggling with. I'll admit that it's probably me. I may just be really overly sick of the human condition due to the EVERYTHING DEMORALIZING of the last few 6,8,10? years. Much less the constant granular examination our time seems to be obsessed with.
posted by djseafood at 3:47 PM on August 2 [2 favorites]


I really don't put Arrested Development in this category, there was an underlying sweetness to a lot of the meanness.
posted by aspersioncast at 4:27 PM on August 2 [1 favorite]


'This movie contains depictions of a community in trauma, police violence, bodily movements, gratuitous sexual references, continuous racial slurs, authentic frontier gibberish, and Alex Karras punching a horse'
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 5:01 PM on August 2 [2 favorites]


"The Umbrella Academy" is the literal worst for this.

I mean (spoiler alert, I guess) there at least the characters are "superheroes" with a rather bizarre and limited assortment of powers who have spent their entire lives as the subjects of physical and psychological experiments by their mad scientist father. Trauma like that leading to an inability to handle or even understand basic human communication seems pretty plausible to me.

I'd say the CW shows (Arrow, The Flash, etc.) are much worse about this. Because those shows have plenty of communication - emotional and practical - right up until the show needs to set up emotional drama and/or plot complications, and then "poof!" Communication Breakdown because Reasons.

Like, the first ten minutes of an episode will have everyone affirming and co-operating with each other, then "Oh jeez, I accidentally discovered that so-and-so's best friend may be a supervillain! Welp, undoubtedly the best move is to not tell anyone at all about this and just go on my merry way!"

Two episodes later of course this all comes out in the worst possible way and everyone's all *shocked Pikachu face.*
posted by soundguy99 at 6:24 AM on August 3 [2 favorites]


It's way older than that. LOST would have 1 season if people actually talked. Instead, everyone kept their cards close to their chest, with a lot of blustering about how asking for an explanation was the same as a lack of trust.

One of the funniest moments in The Leftovers—Damon Lindelof's follow-up show; it's absolutely sublime—takes place at the very start of Season 2, after a full season of a family keeping secrets from each other, where the family all stares at each other blankly for a moment and then spontaneously decides, "Fuck it, let's tell each other everything."

As apologies for an entire TV series go, that one was supremely satisfying.
posted by Tom Hanks Cannot Be Trusted at 9:48 AM on August 3 [3 favorites]


there was an underlying sweetness to a lot of the meanness

I know I’m an outlier on AD in particular; it’s genuinely well written and funny, there’s always money in the banana stand etc, but then suddenly we cut to Tobias sobbing his heart out in the shower and I’m not having a good time anymore, and it doesn’t seem like I’m supposed to take anything away from that scene other than look! The sad man is ridiculous! And sad!

Conversely I know lots of people would put Breaking Bad in that category, but I would not; certainly those characters are often awful to one another, but it never feels like meanness for its own sake or like the show exists solely for “look at these awful people being awful, isn’t it awful how awful people are?” as in so many Very Serious works. Or Eric Andre for sure. Or Between Two Ferns; that’s another one where even though I know everyone involved is in on the joke I just can’t find it enjoyable to experience.

Maybe I was just too focused on treating Jesse as the main character instead of Walter, or maybe I’m just personally inconsistent. Probably that last one
posted by ook at 2:16 PM on August 3 [1 favorite]


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