The way I see it, the film-making Nolan brothers must have been trying to one-up each other. I like to imagine them sitting on Christopher’s back deck. Obviously, it has to be Christopher’s because he’s got all that sweet money from Following (1998). It couldn’t possibly be Jonathan’s; he’s just a writer. Anyway, they must have been sitting there, listening to Prince’s “Party Like It’s 1999” and REM’s “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (and I Feel Fine),” scotches in one hand, cigars in the other, laughing and joking.
“What’s the craziest thing you can think of?” Jonathan inquires.
“A detective that can’t remember details,” Christopher jokes.
“No, wait. A detective that has amnesia.”
“Yes, that weird kind of amnesia that only affects the creation of new memories.”
And thus, Memento (2000) was born.
That conversation could have happened again in the summer of 2016, in Chicago, with cigarettes and chardonnay, and indie rock music playing in the background.
This time, it’s not brothers but longtime friends. The conversation between Sarah Albritton and Povs Povinelli might have started out the same way, then gone in a totally different direction:
“What’s the craziest thing you can think of?” Sarah queries.
“A superhero whose tragic flaw is totally common,” Pov ponders.
“Something like, a superhero who loses her place while fighting crime.”
“How about a superhero who gets easily distracted.”
“Yes, a superhero with ADD.”
“She needs to be relatable. You have narcolepsy. Make her a narcoleptic,” Pov triumphantly states.
And thus, Super was born.
These two writer friends continued to develop the idea. They gave their heroine, Keelyn Klein (Stan Lee did a terrible thing by popularizing the alliterative names trope), the superpower to snap and force people to dance. This is the perfect superpower for making the boy you’re on a date with who refuses to dance at the club get down with his jiggy self. Not bad for a girl whose last name literally means “small” in German.
Keelyn’s superhero mantra is to “Save the world. Stay awake.” People who suffer from narcolepsy experience uncontrollable drowsiness and bouts of full blown sleep throughout the day.
Sarah and Povs think that their new web series will help educate the population. Some estimates say that only one quarter of people with narcolepsy are properly diagnosed. Raising awareness is one thing. Making a change in the public ethos is something quite different.
The creators made a conscious decision to up the authenticity for Keelyn. They want it to be as true to the condition as possible. Sarah points out that narcolepsy is frequently mischaracterized in movies and television. She doesn’t have a problem with its depiction in comedies, as long as people don’t think that this is what is really like.
With a little bit of luck and a few open minds, maybe Sarah and Povs will start a new conversation about narcolepsy.