The road to healing is not linear but with the right people, it can be easier. This is the lesson that the Korean drama It’s Okay to Not Be Okay digs deep into.
The series does a good job portraying mental illness, the effects of traumatic events, and the pursuit of a romantic relationship — the show is a not-so-silent advocate for the normalization of such topics.
It’s Okay to Not Be Okay is a heartwarming Netflix series that is sure to capture the hearts of its viewers by showcasing the importance of recognizing and validating emotions. The show presents the love story between antisocial writer Ko Moon-young and caretaker Moon Gang-tae at a psychiatric hospital. Through their personal difficulties, they challenge and grow with each other.
Each episode is titled after a story written by Ko Moon-young, a famous children’s book author with antisocial personality disorder. The show contains some animated scenes that narrates her written stories. Interestingly enough, every storybook that she has written contains a lesson for individual characters that are introduced episode by episode.
Although Moon-young comes across as apathetic and disinterested in other people’s misfortunes, a closer analysis reveals that she is merely coping with the harsh realities of her world.
Rather than turning her back away from these realities, she writes stories accompanied with gory illustrations and purposely wreaks havoc in her daily life and interactions. She consistently shows that it is okay to be messy, and that you can still succeed and be considered beautiful despite it — especially with her flamboyant outfits.
Taking care of a loved one can engulf one’s life and this is exactly the reality of Moon Gang-tae. Throughout the series, he’s balancing his work life while looking after his older brother, Moon Sang-tae, who is on the autism spectrum.
In all of Gang-tae’s harsh experiences, he developed a resistance to forming closer relationships with anyone save for Sang-tae. However, Gang-tae becomes open to love as the series progresses.
This show invites the viewers to understand the main characters’ lives deeper while unraveling dark secrets from their pasts. There are also side characters which are instrumental for the development of the plot and the main characters. Most notably, Gang-tae’s best friend, Jo Jae-soo, who follows him whenever he and his brother move. Jae-soo understands Gang-tae’s despite his seeming indifference and is there for him always at a moment’s notice.
In the face of the darkness that each character confronts, they are also greeted with light and more importantly, love. They go through tremendous pain, distorting their perception of the world and themselves, but they still find themselves, as well as people that love them.
In spite of it all, they find themselves to be deserving of the good things in this world. This is, by far, the most important lesson that the show delivers.
It may be difficult to open up to others about matters that we have held close into our heads and hearts for some time. But It’s Okay to Not Be Okay piques your interest and can ignite conversations among friends, co-workers, colleagues and strangers alike.
Kristine Jones A. Del Socorro | Culture Editor
Photo: Ammara Syeda | Photo Editor