Tw: Rape and Drug Abuse
I recently watched the brilliant Michaela Cole’s I May Destroy You and it truly shifted something inside me. It was a raw piece of art – the scenes of love were so authentic, the banter between friends was naturally presented and the overall message was produced in a hard-hitting, truthful manner. The final episode left me sobbing, with much to think about. The show itself tackled a range of societal issues including rape, consent, drug use, affairs, and poverty. I think that anyone will be able to relate to at least one issue, or one experience in this show. I have always found it difficult to find TV which presents something so close to home in such a relevant manner to modern culture, so it got me thinking about how I have really felt over these past years watching things which I don’t really relate to, but was nonetheless, entertained by.
There is no doubt that I loved the shows I grew up on – Disney Channel and Nickelodeon were my go-to channels. As a young person you don’t really watch TV or film to learn and hear important stories; there is more of an incline to watch for entertainment, so this longing to see some more representation did not really affect me much. Saying this, I did feel a bit left out as a woman of colour watching these shows as I almost never saw characters which I could relate to, and when they did include them, they were always so stereotypically presented. This often made it extremely cringey to watch so I divorced myself from that shred of representation I was offered. As I got older, my TV taste became more mature, and I found myself hooked on teen dramas.
These shows all contained a ground-breaking level of diversity, in my opinion, and it made me desire to be entertained by something that I would directly be able to relate to. Through studying a Greek Poetry module during my Classics course at university, I found that even thousands of years ago it was clear that there was always a mix between presenting entertainment which was defined by themes so far-fetched from reality (The Rope by Plautus) and works displayed in a fantastical, overdramatic manner, which considered a contemporary moral and political lens (Lysistrata by Aristophanes). This shows that throughout history there has always been a demand for entertainment which serves to detach you from society for a few hours, and entertainment which serves to inform and educate you.
Going into my early twenties I have had my fair share of experiences in life already. As I have grown older, I find that I care more to watch things which allow me to release suppressed pain and discomfort as well as shows which offer a glimpse into history and important tropes which aren’t discussed frequently due to certain taboos or awkwardness. Don’t get me wrong, I love watching mind-numbing reality shows here and there just like anybody else, but it is the entertainment that seeps into my soul which resonates with me the most. I May Destroy You had profound effects on the way I think and process my own grief. It educated, presented, and explained a variety of topics in such a simple, yet heart-breaking way that it encouraged me to consider my position and role in society.
I really hope that any and every demographic gets the chance to watch this show as there is no better time than now for everyone to have their experiences considered, as we strive to a more equal, tolerant society. It is so important for anyone who has access to television to watch programs like this, as it brings those silenced to the forefront. Being a survivor of difficult experiences in the past, I couldn’t help but feel this show deep within my skin as I watched it. It triggered so many feelings and thoughts that I assumed I had worked through enough to banish from ever appearing again. Many scenes in there are heartbreakingly raw and honest and the main storyline stirred up a lot of sadness within me. Knowing that even a few years ago something like this would never have made it to the screen is utterly terrifying. The fact that these incidents would have occurred so often and so easily before, horrifies me and I am so grateful for artists like Michaela Cole to present such refreshing, real work to the screen for us to experience. In the last few years, I think that society has shifted to favour more realistic, authentic pieces of work as opposed to made-up. Of course, I can’t discredit the impact of shows in the fictional fantasy genre, but to me they are more divorced from a habitual viewing.
Award ceremonies are swept by stories which are real and educational – this is where we learn how to consider the past and move forward from it towards an equal future. Having experienced the cathartic release of emotions upon finishing the series, I felt more empowered as a woman, a British-Asian, a survivor, and a human being, to continue supporting and fighting for justice for those around me. One of the show’s final messages is to release the pain and let go – this show allowed me to do exactly that and engage with my own past experiences in a way in which I understand that nothing was my fault and that I can carry them everywhere I go without feeling their crushing weight anymore.