Warning: This woman may not be liked.
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.
The R-rated film stars Zoey Deutch as Danni Sanders, an aspiring writer who lacks a social media presence. She fakes an Instagram-worthy trip to Paris and gets wrapped up in a lie that she survived a terrorist attack while in France. Mia Isaac and Dylan O’Brien also star in the dark comedy, written and directed by Quinn Shephard.
Hulu issued a warning trigger alert reading, “Content Warning: This film contains flashing lights, themes of trauma, and an unlikable female protagonist. Viewer discretion advised.” The film premiered July 29 on the streamer.
Social media users took to Twitter to share their head-scratching reactions to the content warning. One viewer wrote, “Why is Hulu warning me about ‘an unlikeable female protagonist’? Do unlikeable male protagonists need content warnings?”
Another added, “We need a content warning for women being…human? Never have I seen a content warning of this sort for men.”
The Nation senior editor Shuja Haider, shared, “Putting on the ‘unlikable female protagonist’ movie determined to like her no matter what. sitting here squinting and going red in the face liking her for two whole hours.”
IndieWire’s Kate Erbland even titled her interview with “Not Okay” writer-director Shephard: “Need an ‘Unlikable Female Protagonist’? Get Fearless ‘Not Okay’ Filmmaker Quinn Shephard.”
“The content warning was borne out of, to be honest, our test screenings,” Shephard exclusively told IndieWire. “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.'”
The “Blame” filmmaker continued, “I am a big fan of the idea that you don’t have to tell films about people who make good choices to have a point. Telling really sanitized stories about people without flaws, who does that help? Because most people won’t see themselves in that. Danni is somebody who a lot of people should see themselves in, especially young white women who are on the internet all the time. She should poke at something in you that you think, ‘How can I be less of a Danni Sanders?'”
Just went to watch a film and was hit with this content warning:
"This film contains flashing lights, themes of trauma, and an unlikable female protagonist"
We need a content warning for women being..human? Never have I ever seen a content warning of this sort for men.
— Brandy 🐍 (@lunacyandmagic) July 31, 2022
Why is Hulu warning me about “an unlikeable female protagonist”? Do unlikeable male protagonists need content warnings? pic.twitter.com/gHTmzgJaIW
— Christina Buttons (@buttonslives) July 31, 2022
putting on the "unlikable female protagonist" movie determined to like her no matter what. sitting here squinting and going red in the face liking her for two whole hours
— Shuja Haider (@shujaxhaider) August 1, 2022