4 Shows That Addressed Sexual Assault Realistically & Respectfully

Over the past few years, many television shows have gotten serious, covering topics like rape, assault, sexuality, poverty, and dating, specifically within teens and young adults. Because of shows like Degrassi, My So-Called Life, and South of Nowhere in the late 90s and early 2000s, many shows years later have been able to follow suit in airing controversial storylines. One topic that shows tend to address is rape and sexual assault, but many shows don't manage to address such topics with the seriousness and concern that they demand. These four shows, however, handle the topic of sexual assault – and the aftermath – realistically, appropriately, and accurately – something that's extremely important for helping survivors process their traumas, and for helping allies understand what survivors are going through.  

 

  1. 1. Grand Army

    Released on Netflix in 2020, Grand Army is a Netflix original drama about high schoolers in New York City, dealing with issues such as sexual assault, poverty, school bombings, dating, and more. In the third episode of the show, one of the main characters, Joey, is assaulted by three of her male friends in the back of a taxi cab. After the assault, she has to deal with the aftermath of it, seeing them at school, and people making negative assumptions about her due to the assault. Grand Army really digs deep, and depicts how assault affects a person mentally and emotionally.

  2. 2. Degrassi: The Next Generation

    Degrassi: The Next Generation is probably one of the most well-known and popular teen dramas. Ahead of its time, the show aired in 2001 and dealt with issues like rape, school shootings, racism, sexuality, trauma, sex, and a lot more. The show ran for over 14 years and had multiple storylines about rape and sexual assault. While the show had many storylines about this topic, the first and most notable one happened in the second season, to Paige.

    After Paige attends a party, she's raped by an older guy she met there. This storyline really goes into depth throughout multiple seasons, as you see how Paige being assaulted bleeds into her other relationships. In ther fourth season, Paige takes her rapist to trial and ultimately ends up losing, causing her to spiral. This storyline really shows how rape and sexual assault towards women is a problem in the justice system that's not taken seriously. It also shows how assault can affect a person's life and relationships, even years after it happens.

  3. 3. Euphoria

    Euphoria Zendaya Dancing

    HBO’s Euphoria first aired in 2019 and has been a hit ever since. Although there's currently only one season and two special episodes (HBO delayed filming and production for the entire year due to COVID), Euphoria was able to pack so many issues affecting young adults into just eight episodes. While the show revolves around main character Rue, and her addiction, Euphoria also shows what some of the other characters are going through, too, like abortion, abuse, fitting in, sexuality, and body positivity.

    In the first season, McKay is assaulted by members of the fraternity that he's pledging for. They barge into his room and assault him in front of his girlfriend. After this happens, you briefly see how much it affects McKay, especially as a man dealing with being assaulted. He feels no need to even talk about it, and doesn't even want to cry in front of his girlfriend. This scene really showed how assault survivors, especially those identifying as male, feel the need to bottle up their emotions and not talk about traumatic experiences or things that are deemed embarrassing or affect their “manhood.” While we don't see much of McKay after the assault happens, Euphoria does a great job of showing how rape, assault, and trauma can also happen to men. 

  4. 4. Sex Education

    Sex Education is another Netflix original that aired in 2019. The British comedy-drama series follows Otis, a high school student who gets guidance about sex from his peers and sex therapist mom. The show handles sexual assault in the second season when Aimee is assaulted while riding the bus. Initially brushing off the incident, you later see how much the assault negatively affects Aimee. While talking to a group of young women, Aimee reveals what happened to her, which prompts some of the other women to come forward with their own sexual assault stories.