Welcome to What’s the Buzz, 25YL’s feature where members of our staff provide you with recommendations on a weekly basis. In our internet age, there is so much out there to think about watching, reading, listening to, etc., that it can be hard to separate the wheat from the chaff, filter out the noise, or find those diamonds in the rough. But have no fear! We’re here to help you do that thing I just described with three different metaphors. Each week a rotating cast of writers will offer their recommendations based on things they have discovered. They won’t always be new to the world, but they’ll be new to us, or we hope new to you. This week, Derrick Gravener recommends I May Destroy You, Rachel Stewart is listening to Hannah Fury, Nick Luciano is revisiting Gargoyles, and Caemeron Crain is enjoying how bananas Raised by Wolves is.
I May Destroy You
Derrick: Hailing from Chewing Gum creator and star Michaela Coel comes another starring vehicle for the actor/director/writer in the form of HBO/BBC One’s darkly-comedic I May Destroy You, which centres around Coel’s Arabella after her drink is spiked while in a bar one night and she is later raped.
Broken into twelve half-hour episodes, the series manages to find comedy in the most unexpected places while also becoming a masterclass in non-linear trauma healing. At times hard to watch, and at other times visually stunning, it’s a juxtaposition of things that don’t seem to go together, but somehow fit perfectly.
The series manages to be a complex look into black womanhood, queer black male identity and sexual politics, childhood trauma, and also finds time to dive into what the overall cultural zeitgeist surrounding sexual assault has become since #MeToo (read: it’s been commodified).
Maybe what’s best about the show is that it knows it feels trendy to do a series surrounding a sexual trauma since #MeToo. It knows what you expect, it knows what you’ve seen in popular culture (let’s all remember The Morning Show revamped significantly after #MeToo) and turns that on its head. What’s produced feels lived in, complex, nuanced, uncomfortable, and remarkably kind to its protagonist’s journey (read: it doesn’t feel like trauma porn).
I May Destroy You is a triumph for television, and my current frontrunner for best show of the year (sorry, Kidding). I haven’t seen an exploration of identity politics and trauma quite like it (have you seen a major show showcase sexual assault and consent in a queer male context?) and for that alone it should be celebrated, but what’s masterful about I May Destroy You is the humanity present in it all. It doesn’t get too wrapped up in the academia or psychology of it all, it stays true to its character’s journey and even uses its point of view to keep some things sacred for the protagonist.
Perhaps Adele reviewed it best: “I’ve never felt so many emotions at once! Absolutely fantastic…Michaela Coel bloody SMASHED it!”