One Day Makers Stuck By Its Divisive Ending For The Romantic Drama, Here's Why It Works (Image credit: Netflix)
The gorgeous romantic drama, One Day, explores the slow-burn romance between two British university students Emma Morley (Ambika Mod) and Dexter Mayhew (Leo Woodall). The recent graduates have a chance meeting that turns into a night of connection that lasts no matter where they are in life. But author David Nicholls and lead writer Nicole Taylor decided that they weren't going to tamper with how the 2009 novel and 2011 film of the same name ended. Instead, they would enhance it. Their decision was a wise one as it retains the essence of why the story worked in the first place, even though fans have said they felt very strong emotions at reading/watching it unfold.[Spoilers ahead for the show ending!]
Series' ending solidifies Em and Dex's love story (SPOILERS)Over 14 episodes, the main couple meet and go on to date other people. The show takes place from 1988 to 2003. But through it all they remain connected to one other, as is evidenced by the story checking on them every year on July 15. Eventually, Emma and Dexter confess their love and get married. However, One Day ends with a tragic happenstance as Emma is killed in bicycle accident and Dexter is left alone at the end.
For Nicholls, it was the reason why he started the story on that eventful day. Their story is made even more resounding by the tragedy. He told Entertainment Weekly, "That was always the premise. It's a novel about someone's death day, but you don't tell them because none of us know. And so it's always been central to the premise."
As audiences discover this, the couple's eternal link, even with death, is more poignant. Writer Taylor added in the same interview with Entertainment Weekly, "I didn't feel under any pressure to change the ending or to keep the ending. I just wanted to reinterview it for its place in the piece. Once you pull that out, you better have something just as good, if not better, in terms of the meaning of the piece as a whole and the cosmic enduring nature of love and friendship and how your whole life can be defined by a chance."
Not all endings have to be happy (SPOILERS)While it feel one should join a support group to process the ending, One Day's painful finale can be interpreted as slightly optimistic. At least that's how Mod and Woodall interpreted it when they were filming the show. As they embody Emma and Dexter best, we'd better take their word for it. In the final scene, as Dex sits alone in his grief, Em appears and gives him the strength to keep going. "It won’t always be like this," she tells him.
The series also leaves us with their happier memories, reinforcing the theme of hope. Woodall said of the couple's last scene, “It could have been easy to end it in a way that was just like, ‘Well, that was the saddest thing I’ve ever seen,’. But they don’t. They leave it very hopeful.”
Mod also backs her co-star's view and says she was surprised that the show added the couple's kissing montage. She stated, “It so encapsulates what that moment is trying to do and what the book does so well. It’s very hopeful and beautiful. It really took my breath away.” All episodes of One Day are now streaming on Netflix.