Jonathan Entwistle, showrunner on I Am Not Okay With This, reveals a number of reasons for Netflix’s shock cancellation of the series.
Jonathan Entwistle, showrunner and co-creator of I Am Not Okay With This, reveals a number of reasons for Netflix’s shock cancellation of the series. Entwistle adapted the show from a graphic novel by Charles Forsman, who had also provided the source graphic novel for Entwistle’s previous Netflix series, The End of the F***ing World. Both series follow a pair of maladjusted teenagers who feel that they are fish out of water in their hometowns, and are even connected through an Easter egg in I Am Not Okay With This.
Despite season 1 seemingly doing well on Netflix, and the streaming service renewing it for season 2, I Am Not Okay With This was cancelled out of the blue in August. The shock move was blamed on coronavirus at the time, given that the cost of testing and PPE would have affected season 2’s budget quite significantly. However, fans were left aghast, given that season 1 featured a cliffhanger ending that involved a shadowy figure confronting the main character, Sydney Novak (Sophia Lillis), hinting that season 2 would see her discovering more about her telekinetic powers thanks to this mystery figure.
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Now, Entwistle lists a whole number of reasons for the show’s shock cancellation. Speaking to Insider, the showrunner says that the extra cost of coronavirus testing and PPE was a factor, but also mentions the fact that I Am Not Okay With This didn’t see the numbers that Netflix was expecting, especially after a good first weekend was followed by a steady drop in viewership. He also says that season 2 was planned to end the show, and he and co-creator Christy Hall had written the season with a definitive ending in mind, and adds that delaying the show wasn’t a possibility due to the costs of keeping actors in contract. You can read his full comments below:
Many of the questions that we posed in the first season were mapped out for a second season. When they commissioned season two and they greenlit us into the writers room, they told us it was to be the final season. So we were writing to a finale that we’d already planned. There was obviously the impending writers’ strike, which was definitely a huge thing at Netflix. We were working almost week to week, not knowing how long it was going to last before somebody pulled the trigger on something that would have an effect [on the show]. When the pandemic hit, we moved out of the office and there was definitely a shift within Netflix. We finished the scripts and it was hard work in the Zoom writer’s room. No writer tells you those things are good. It’s not good. We were budgeting, we were ready to roll. The show was due to start shooting in May/June and obviously it got delayed. [Then] we just realized that to COVID-proof the show was going to cost a lot more money. I think I’ve seen a few people talking and the figures are about right: It’s about anywhere between $5 to $10 million per season of television for the PPE, and for the testing, and for the systematic changes with which to make it safer. I think that one of the problems we faced with I Am Not Okay With This is that in many ways I considered it to be a smaller, niche show and they considered it to be a replacement for Stranger Things. I do think when they were looking at all the finances, the show was more expensive than they figured it was worth doing. Once you go over a certain period of time from when you said you were going to shoot, it incurs quite big costs to pay the actors to keep them. Netflix was basically saying we’re paying large groups of filmmakers and actors to remain doing nothing. We were locked into I Am Not Okay With This and it looked like it was never going to shoot. And because I don’t have an overall deal or anything at Netflix, it was prohibiting me from working on other projects through COVID.
It’s a lot to unpack, but essentially what Entwistle is saying is that Netflix had hoped I Am Not Okay With This would be a hit on the same scale as Stranger Things. That’s a bit strange, as Entwistle himself indicates, given the latter show’s family-friendly tone, compared to the dark and adult material featured in I Am Not Okay With This. As a result, they felt the extra cost of producing season 2, either before or after the current pandemic, weren’t worth it.
Unfortunately, the move by Netflix means that the mysterious figure seen at the end of season 1 will never be revealed, along with the answers to a number of other questions that audiences had about the show. It’s a pity, too, for fans who wanted to see what would happen between Sydney and Stanley, played by Lillis’ It co-star Wyatt Oleff. The pair had a great awkward chemistry on-screen, and it would have been nice to see how their friendship played out during season 2. Sadly, Netflix has ensured that will never happen, and audiences will have to make do with I Am Not Okay With This ending with season 1’s cliffhanger finale.
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