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Everyone's Praising BBC's 'I May Destroy You' For The Way It Tackles Consent

Joanna Freedman

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Everyone's Praising BBC's 'I May Destroy You' For The Way It Tackles Consent

Featured Image Credit: BBC

If you're looking for a new TV drama to watch, the Michaela Coel's I May Destroy You should be bumped straight to the top of your list.

The show landed on BBC One on Monday, and people are already branding it "one of the most important shows to come out this year," and praising it for the harrowing and real way in which it addresses difficult topics such as sexual assault and consent.

The 12-part drama, which also aired on HBO, follows protagonist Arabella (Coel), and the fallout of her realising she's had her drink spiked and has been assaulted.

Aspiring writer Arabella doesn't realise she's been raped at first. She wakes up in a daze at her desk, with a cut on her forehead and a broken phone screen.

She then starts having flashbacks of someone being raped. Even then, it doesn't hit her straight away that this person was her.

The series follows Coel as she portrays Arabella on her painful and gut-wrenching journey, coming to terms with what has happened to her.

And it's even more powerful because the plot so closely follows an incident which happened in her own life.

The show follows protagonist Arabella (Credit: BBC)
The show follows protagonist Arabella (Credit: BBC)

Speaking at the Edinburgh Television Festival back in 2018, the show's writer said that she was raped when she was writing Season 2 of Chewing Gum, and - like her character - she didn't even realise at first.

"I was working overnight in the [production] company's offices; I had an episode due at 7 a.m. I took a break and had a drink with a good friend who was nearby," she said.

The next thing she knew, she was back at the desk typing again.

"I had a flashback. It turned out I'd been sexually assaulted by strangers. The first people I called after the police, before my own family, were the producers," she went on.

Coel is a sexual assault victim herself (Credit: PA)
Coel is a sexual assault victim herself (Credit: PA)

It's no wonder, then, that the show is being praised for its heartbreaking realism.

"So Michaela Coel's 'I May Destroy You' is the most accurate depiction of trying to deal with the aftermath of [sexual assault] I've ever seen," one person wrote after watching Arabella's story. "F*cking hell thank you @MichaelaCoel".

"I May Destroy You may be one of the most important shows to come out this year," another wrote.

While a third agreed: "Michaela Cole's I MAY DESTROY YOU is the best thing I've watched since [Chewing] Gum.

"That scene in episode 2 when she admits to herself what happened broke me. Amazing writing amazing acting. @BBC".

Arabella's first encounter with rape isn't the only way in which the series looks at sexual assault and the topic of consent.

Later on, she's once again violated when she sleeps with a writer, named Zain, and he takes the condom off half way through.

We also follow Arabella's friends Terry (Weuche Opia) - an actress struggling to make it big - and Kwame (Paapa Essiedu) - a gay man dubbed the 'King Of Grindr', both of whom come across their own issues with consent, too.

"Michaela has such a unique and authentic voice and a way of confronting the truth in a very direct manner," Kwame actor Essiedu explains.

"So firstly I hope people watch it and feel seen; and then secondly, feel confident to be able to speak out about any experiences that they've had that have been reflected in the series."

Coel's show takes an honest look at assault (Credit: BBC)
Coel's show takes an honest look at assault (Credit: BBC)

Opia adds: "A lot of the themes and experiences that happen in the show are happening right now.

"I want people to know that they are not alone. That life is constantly changing and all you can do is your best, for yourself and the people around you. Life may not work out how you intend it to, but you have to do your best and know you're not alone. Those are the two main takeaways for me."

This sounds like a moving and necessary watch.

Topics: BBC, HBO, TV News, TV Entertainment, Rape

Joanna Freedman
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