Few movies highlight the Gen-Z experience quite like Hulu’s “Not Okay.” The 2022 film portrays two aspects of youth: one dedicated to activism and one who takes the title “influencer” too far. Still, “Not Okay’s” commentary on social media and politics is raw, real and surprisingly comedic.

Before viewers even see the opening credits, they’re exposed to a content warning. “This film contains flashing lights, themes of trauma, and an unlikeable female protagonist.” This is true. Danni Sanders is extremely unlikeable. Her flaws extend past her cringey, online mannerisms. But her flaws are what makes “Not Okay” timely and important.

Danni is the textbook definition of an influencer, or at least, that’s what she becomes after pretending to be in Paris during a terrorist attack. The lie began unintentionally, but her actions that followed were anything but. After joining a support group to keep up her secret, she meets a school shooting survivor Rowan Aldren. Rowan is an activist with a large following; naturally, Danni latched onto her to gain national attention. With Rowan’s help, she writes an article and starts the #IAmNotOkay movement. Danni’s exploitation paired with her assortment of fashion microtrends like jelly rings and phone charms do indeed make her the most hated protagonist.

But Danni isn’t just a character in a movie. In fact, “Not Okay” isn’t a futuristic film at all because the movie’s plot has happened before. After the terrorist attack on Sept. 11, a woman named Tania Head became a household name with a devastating story. In vivid detail, she claimed her husband died in the towers while she made it out alive. But her story and consequential fame was a facade. The New York Times pieced together that on Sept. 11., Tania was in Barcelona and using her real name Alicia Esteve Head. 

Despite “Not Okay’s” incredible sense of comedic timing and sarcasm, its underlying message is powerful and clearly relevant. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with influencers and not all activists are good people, either. But social media is a deceiving tool. Liars will always exist, and the internet grants them a direct path to fortune and fame. Both Danni and Alicia did it, and they’re just the ones who were caught. 

“Not Okay” is refreshing, heavy and definitely worth a watch. #IAmOkayWithNotOkay.