Hulu Alerts Viewers About ‘Unlikable Female Protagonist’ in Original Movie

by Tia Bailey

Hulu has a trend of releasing interesting, yet controversial shows and movies onto the streaming platform. From the controversial “Pam and Tommy” to the all-telling “Controlling Britney Spears,” it’s clear they are not afraid to push the envelope. The platform’s most recent original movie, however, comes with a very self-aware warning prior to the film, and it has fans confused.

“Not Okay” is a Hulu original movie that was released to stream on July 29. The film stars Zoey Deutch as the main character, Danni Sanders. Danni is a “misguided young woman” that fakes a writer’s retreat to Paris after struggling to fit in at that start-up magazine she works for. However, while she was supposed to be in Paris, it is hit with a terrorist attack, and Danni has to make a choice — come clean about faking the trip, or continue to pretend she was there and make everyone believe she was a victim. While any normal person would choose to come clean, Danni does not. So what was Hulu’s warning prior to the film?

“CONTENT WARNING: This film contains flashing lights, themes of trauma, and an unlikable female protagonist. Viewer discretion advised.”

This was perplexing to viewers, who immediately took to Twitter to call Hulu out for this. One tweet reads: “Why is Hulu warning me about ‘an unlikable female protagonist’? Do unlikable male protagonists need content warnings?”

The tweet currently has 11 thousand likes, and a ton of responses. Some insist that the warning has to be satire, while others say it was confirmed to not be.

Content Warning Prior to Original Movie Sparks Controversy

Writer/director of “Not Okay” Quinn Shephard did an interview with IndieWire in which she provided some insight into the warning. She said that it was born from the test screenings.

“We un-ironically and consistently got responses from — I’m not going to say what demographic, but you might be able to guess — people who were quite literally like, ‘Why would someone make a movie with an unlikable woman?’ It’s something I’ve repeatedly heard, and a lot of my other writer friends have as well. If you portray flawed women or women who reflect societal flaws, you get notes like, ‘I literally don’t understand why you tell a story about this character,” she told IndieWire.

She compared her character to unlikable male protagonists, such as Leonardo DiCaprio’s Jordan Belfort in “The Wolf of Wall Street.” While people widely accept and celebrate those characters, she wondered why it’s different with Danni in “Not Okay.”

She said that the warning was meant to provoke a reaction from audiences, and that is exactly what it did. Some think the warning was fine, while others think it was definitely “Not Okay.”