Not Okay to debut on Hulu on July 29th, 2022.
Not Okay is a satirical dark comedy with many parallels to the Tony Award-winning musical ‘Dear Evan Hansen’: both feature protagonists who create internet movements based on a lie while watching things quickly spiral out of control. It’s as if Quinn Shephard, writer and director of ‘Not Okay,’ saw Evan Hansen and decided she needed an even more unlikable and unredeemable character, sans musical monologues.
Danni Sanders (Zoey Deutch) is a Brooklyn-based photo editor with dreams of being a writer who correlates how successful you are with how many Instagram followers, likes, and comments you have. She has no close friends of her own (minus a pet guinea pig) and handles herself poorly in almost every social interaction. She pines for Colin (a tatted Dylan O’Brien rocking bleached hair a la Pete Davidson), an inherently unlikable influencer. Danni fakes a trip to Paris to impress Colin by editing photos on her social media pages. At the same time as Danni’s fake trip, tragedy strikes the city of Paris, which forces Danni to add lie upon lie to her initial fabrication.
Some of the satire in ‘Not Okay’ actually leaps off the screen at you.
For example, the publication Danni works for is called ‘Depravity,’ meaning moral corruption. It’s purposeful that Danni’s attempts to socialize are especially cringing, and Deutch can pull off an incredible sense of ignorance with every passing comment. Deutch plays the character with a naiveté that makes her watchable, but that doesn’t make her character any less frustrating.
Mia Isaac, who recently shared the screen with John Cho in Prime Video’s ‘Don’t Make Me Go,’ takes on a heavy role as Rowan, a school shooting survivor who has become a prominent voice of the anti-gun movement. Danni uses Rowan to help push her agenda and improve her social media clout. Isaac is a newcomer to the film world, but these are two back-to-back films that show she has some real acting prowess at a young age.
The overall problem with the film is that it’s unclear if Danni learns or grows from her experience. She claims she’s “a different person now,” but she never really does anything that reflects that. Part of this may be purposeful – the last act is titled “I Don’t Get a Redemption Arc.” So it would make sense that the film doesn’t try to improve Danni’s image when all is said and done. Perhaps this is a commentary on today’s social media-infused youth: they’re lost beyond repair, hiding behind their social media personas rather than their real lives.
I give Not Okay 2.5 out of 5 stars. There are some enjoyable moments throughout the film. Deutch is strangely charming in her character’s frustrating nature, and it’s worth watching to see more of Mia Isaac. However, it’s not entirely fun to watch, whether that’s on purpose or not.