“I May Destroy You” (2020) created by/starring Michaela Coel

The question of sexual consent in contemporary life and how, in the new landscape of dating and relationships, we make the distinction between liberation and exploitation. -Tagline for the HBO TV series

[1] Sexual assault story has never been told this way before. Groundbreaking stuff. A must see.

[2] It’s not meant to be Girlfriends or SATC and it doesn’t pretend to be. It’s not a sitcom or light comedy, it’s devastating at times, yet humorous.

[3] …this show is honest, heart-breaking, uplifting, funny and sad all at once.

[4] It’s definitely a hard show to watch but worth every moment. Love seeing a largely Black cast in a big network series too.

[5] To me, what it strikes similarity with is the Black Mirror. Almost each episode opens a certain problematic topic of the modern western world.

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews

There is much to discover in this HBO show (consisting of 12 eps, 30 mins. long). It’s dark (perhaps too much for sensitive viewers), multi-layered, and has some of the most unique characters you’ll see on modern TV. I esp. liked the scenes w/ the literary crowd, some of whom are quite problematic. Michaela Coel (now 32 y.o.) was sexually assaulted when she was making the second season of her comedy series Chewing Gum (2015) which provided the inspiration for this show. She turned down a $1M deal w/ Netflix for the series, as she would’ve lost ownership of the rights. Coel (named Michaela Boakye-Collinson) was born to Ghanaian parents and raised in Tower Hamlets by a single mother, a cleaner who became a NHS nurse. She attended the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (where she was awarded a scholarship named for Olivier). In 2013, Coel made her stage debut in Chewing Gum Dreams; in 2015, her sitcom Chewing Gum began on Channel 4 TV in the UK.

Arabella (Coel) is a 20ish writer in London working on her second book; her first book (comprised of her popular tweets re: millennial life) was published online. There are several fans who approach her on the streets, asking for a selfie and/or giving out praise. She lives in a humble flat w/ her friend, Ben (Stephen Wight), a quiet/white man who enjoys gardening. Arabella’s best friends are an aspiring actress, Terry (Weruche Opia), and an aerobics instructor, Kwame (Paapa Essiedu- the lead in Hamlet at RSC in 2016). These three pals (all of Ghanian heritage) have known each other for many years and talk about (almost) everything together a la SATC. Another old friend, Simon (Alm Ameen), works at a bank and lives in a fancy apt. w/ his gf of 8 yrs. Simon has a wild side; he plans a three-some and carries drugs (coke). Arabella is known for her partying ways, incl. sometimes using drugs. Some viewers were suspicious of Simon, guessing that he wasn’t going to be a good friend.

One night, Arabella takes a break from her novel to go out w/ Simon and a few others (on his b-day). It turns out that someone spiked her drink and assaulted her that night! The details are few and hazy; at first, she doesn’t want to admit something so terrible happened. Though disoriented, injured (w/ a forehead gash), and lacking sleep, Arabella goes to a meeting w/ her two literary agents. They’re worried re: her falling behind on providing chapters; they’re portrayed as typical white yuppie/liberals. Later, she goes to the local police station to report the crime; we see a few scenes not unlike those in Law & Order: SVU. The two cops on her case are considerate and professional women; they don’t act judgmental of Arabella.

The locations, sets, clothes, and accessories seemed true to life. Many critics and viewers commented that the city scenes looked like “the real London.” The scenes in Ostia, Italy were esp. shot well; Arabella is drawn to her on/off bf Biagio (Marouane Zotti). Though Biagio sells drugs, he seems to be supportive of Arabella (at first). (Coel said she took a vacation to Firenze after her assault and fell in love w/ the place and people.) Arabella wears a pink wig in the first few eps; this was purposefully chosen and dyed not suit Coel’s face/skin color. As the series progresses, the wig frays (symbolizing Arabella’s mental state). Casting directors question Terry about her hair (a wig) in a rather blunt manner; you can tell she is uncomfortable. Almost all of the characters are constantly on their smartphones. Later in the show, Arabella becomes huge on social media; her therapist asks if she really needs it. Kwame may or may not be addicted to a popular gay dating app (Grindr). One of his old friends (who is questioning his own sexual identity) worries about Kwame’s behavior. Kwame nonchalantly says that this isn’t Ghana, so he won’t be thrown off a building. This show is laced w/ dark humor (another element which sets it apart from US shows).

There are some flashback scenes where we see Arabella and Terry as H.S. kids (age 14); the casting of the kids was done very well. They support a male friend after he is (falsely) accused of attacking a white girl, Theo. In the present time, Theo is the head of survivors’ support group; though Arabella wants to know her better, Terry is still suspicious. Terry isn’t a “perfect” friend either, as we eventually discover. No one is totally a good or bad guy in this show! Kwame faces a difficult situation in the middle of the series; he’s not sure if this qualifies as sexual assault (so he Googles it). At first, he consented to hookup w/ a man, but then was forced into something else (w/o his consent). Arabella (thanks to a podcast) learns that her writing partner Zain (Hardip Gill) was “stealthing” when they slept together. She also didn’t give her consent; in fact, she hadn’t experienced this before. What did you think about Terry’s “wild” night w/ the two Italians- could that also be considered non-consensual? There isn’t always an easy answer!

SPOILER-FREE Review: Killing Eve – Season 1 (BBC America)

Based on the novellas by Luke Jennings [published in 2017] and written by Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag), Killing Eve centers on two women; Eve (Sandra Oh) is a bored, whip-smart, pay-grade MI-5 security officer whose desk-bound job doesn’t fulfill her fantasies of being a spy; Villanelle (Jodie Comer) is a mercurial, talented killer who clings to the luxuries her violent job affords her. -Summary from BBC America

Remember Det. Bobby Goren’s pursuit of the literate/world-traveling serial killer- Nicole Wallace- on several eps/seasons of Law and Order: Criminal Intent? Bobby and Nicole shared a strong connection (chemistry), though they were on different sides of the law. Now you’ve got a hint of this (unique) thriller, which is mostly a character-based drama centered on a  married/middle-aged MI-5 security officer, Eve Polastri (Canadian actress of Korean heritage- Sandra Oh- best known for Sideways and Gray’s Anatomy) and multi-lingual/sociopath killer, Villanelle (Jodie Comer, a Brit from Liverpool). Oh’s character is a Brit, though raised in the US (so has an American accent).  

Though this is a drama, there is (dark) humor laced throughout each of the 8 eps, thanks to Waller-Bridge, a multi-talented Brit in her early 30s. Yes, women are at the forefront (and behind-the-scenes) of Killing Eve! I was esp. pleased to see veteran actress Fiona Shaw as Carolyn Martens, Eve’s superior officer. The man who acts as a sort of handler/manager for Villanelle is called Konstantin (Kim Bodnia, a Danish actor). Both he and Shaw have strong onscreen presences, toughness, and some (unexpected) moments of lightness/fun. Eve’s easygoing husband (a teacher) is Niko (Owen McDonnell, an Irish actor who works mainly in theater); he and Oh have the type of natural chemistry you’d see in a long-married couple. Their marriage is put under strain as Eve goes into fieldwork, dangers escalate, keeps secrets, and becomes obsessed w/ Villanelle.  

As some critics have noted, the breakout star of Killing Eve is Jodie Comer. She’s young, tall, blue-eyed, (conventionally) pretty, yet NOT skinny (athletic figure). What sets her apart are her big/bright blue eyes and luminous face (which she twists into many expressions). I see a LOT of potential in this actress. Vilanelle, like MANY real women, likes real food (ice cream, fresh bruschetta, champagne, etc.) And she has a keen eye for fashion, too. How good is this show? Well, it was picked up for a second season (even before the pilot aired), then Oh was nominated for a Best Actress Emmy (the first for an Asian-American woman). Check it out ASAP (I saw it last week at the BBC America web site)!


Black Mirror: Season 3 (Netflix)

NOTE: This review contains MILD spoilers.

FYI: The term “black mirror” is a reference to the effect of a TV or computer screen when switched off, giving a dark reflection of the onlooker. (You can read my previous review of Seasons 1 & 2 here.)  If you have a LOT on your current watch list, then check out the two eps below! 

Episode 1: Nosedive


This was my fave ep, besides E4 (see below); it was directed by Joe Wright (Atonement; Pride and Prejudice).  The scenarios depicted are NOT too far from what’s going on in our (current) society, which makes the story funny, relatable, and a BIT scary!  Every interaction (incl. brief chats, purchases, accidental run-ins, heartfelt convos, etc.) is rated by each individual living in this fictional world.  


So in terms of quality, you could use a punch up right there. Ideally, that’s up votes from quality people.  -Hansen

Quality people? -Lacie asks

High fours. Impress those up-scale folks, you’ll gain velocity on your arc and there’s your boost. -Hansen explains

It stars VERY likeable American actress- Bryce Dallas Howard (Lacie), Brit James Norton- star of Grantchester (Ryan), another young Brit- Alice Eve (Naomie), and respected American theater veteran- Cherry Jones (Truck Driver).  Lacie, who has a positive/go-getter personality, is working hard to boost her rating, so that she can move into an exclusive housing community.  Her younger/slacker brother, Ryan, thinks that this is a stupid idea (BUT he has a mediocre rating).  Lacie constantly compares her rating and posts to others in her social circle, esp. Naomie (a conventionally pretty childhood friend).

Episode 4: San Junipero


Black Mirror has been a great show from the start; for me, it’s main draw is the human stories it focuses on in the midst of some mind- blowing technological what-ifs. Although in other episodes, it has focused on the darker side of technology, this one focuses on how technology could connect people instead.  -Excerpt from IMDB review

I consider this episode to be a movie. It felt like one. The lighting, music, choreography and acting gave it a vivid tone which truly involves the viewer. It felt like more than an hour run but didn’t drag on one bit. -Excerpt from another IMDB review

This is THE ep for those of you who love romance, time travel (I’m a big fan of Quantum Leap), &/or the 80s- fashion, hair, & music (here is full list of songs).  There is a fun fashion montage that is influenced by Robert Parker’s song Addicted to Love (I learned that from a pop culture podcast, though it did look familiar when I saw it).  The lead characters are shy/socially awkward Yorkie (Canadian MacKenzie Davis) and vivacious/outgoing Kelly (British-Nigerian Gugu Mbatha-Raw, most recently in Free State of Jones).  BOTH actresses did great in their roles, BUT I’m a big fan of Mbatha-Raw (her character has more of the emotional heavy lifting to do in this story).  This is a character-driven story and it takes time to get to know what exactly is going on.  Nothing is spoon-fed to the viewer!   


Broadchurch: Series 2 (Netflix)

This review contains MILD spoilers for the British (BBC/ITV) show.


I started watching this series in July, BUT didn’t get to the bulk of the eps until Thanksgiving.  Series 2 focuses on the trial of Det. Ellie Miller’s (Olivia Colman) husband (Joe), an older case which is still affecting DI Alec Hardy (David Tennant), and how various individuals of the small town of Broadchurch (as well as a few new characters) deal w/ the aftermath of Series 1.  The community is  shocked (yet again) when Joe decides to plead “not guilty” to the death of Billy Latimer! 


The Latimers, Beth (Jodie Whittaker) and Mark (Andrew Buchan), have a new baby girl; they still grieve for Billy. This couple has emotionally complicated chemistry with each other, perhaps even better than in the S1.  (Their teen daughter, Chloe, doesn’t have much to do in this series.)  Rev. Paul Coates (Arthur Darvill) and Australian hotel owner, Becca Fisher (Simone McAullay), are in a long-term relationship- BIT of a surprise.  We can see that Paul is conflicted about his role in this town. 

KUDOS FILM AND TELEVISION PRESENTS BROADCHURCH SERIES 2 Images are under strict Embargo not to be used before the 6TH January. PICTURED : OLIVIA COLMAN. Copyright ITV/Kudos.
Copyright ITV/Kudos.

Miller has been downgraded to the level of traffic cop and now lives in a small apt. w/ her toddler son, Fred.  Her older son, Tommy (who was Billy’s best pal), has chosen to live temporarily w/ Aunt Lucy.  Miller is STILL a dogged cop, even motivating Hardy to keep going when he gets disillusioned.


We meet Hardy’s ex-wife and teen daughter, who live several hours away and are doing well in life.  We sense that Hardy wants to be a more involved parent.  He is now taking meds, BUT eventually undergoes a heart procedure. The BEST thing about this series is the growing friendship and continued partnership between Miller and Hardy!  Colman and Tennant, at times, have a competitive (perhaps brother-sister) type of chemistry.

Pictured: EVE MYLES as Claire and JAMES DARCY as Lee Ashworth.
This image is the copyright of ITV.

We slowly learn more re: the Pippa Gillespie/Lisa Newberry case. The witness Hardy had been protecting, hairdresser Claire Ripley (Eve Myles) and her overbearing boyfriend, Lee Ashworth (James D’Arcy from Agent Carter) feature prominently in this series.  They seem like the definition of a co-dependent/dysfunctional couple;  I would’ve liked to see less of their story.      

KUDOS FILM AND TELEVISION PRESENTS BROADCHURCH SERIES 2 Images are under strict Embargo not to be used before the 13TH January. PICTURED : CHARLOTTE RAMPLING. Copyright ITV/Kudos.
Copyright ITV/Kudos.



Pictured: MARIANNE JEAN BAPTISTE as Sharon Bishop.
This image is the copyright of ITV.

The newcomers to the series were the main draw for me (aside from Tennant and Colman).  Two former colleagues, prosecutor Sharon Bishop (Marianne Jean- Baptiste) and veteran defense attorney, Jocelyn Knight (Charlotte Rampling) are on opposite sides of the trial. These women are BOTH very smart, tough, and experienced in court.  They each have other issues to deal w/ outside of work, which we slowly discover.  I wanted to see a BIT more of them!  There is a LOT more to this show, so check it out if you liked Series 1.

The Escape Artist (2013) starring David Tennant

NOTES: This is a SPOILER-FREE review.  The original BBC version was shown in three parts (an hour each). The version shown in the US on PBS was edited to two parts (90 minutes each), which is the one I saw.


You do not know how you will react to the law, until the law happens to YOU.

The premise is VERY interesting, yet as the tale goes on, it becomes less and less believable.  The tension created and acting are the main reasons to check it out.  You will find parallels to Cape Fear.  Game of Thrones fans will be pleased to see Anton Lesser (Maester Qyburn) and Kate Dickie (Lysa Arryn).


David Tennant (who gets to use his own Scottish accent) is in the lead role of Will Burton, a  successful 38 y.o. barrister (lawyer who can go to trial) and devoted family man (w/ a wife, played by Ashley Jensen, and young son).  Tennant’s face is very expressive, esp. the eyes, and he makes the legal talk sound like second nature.  I esp. liked the interactions w/ the child actor who played his son.  Tennant and Jensen have great chemistry as marrieds, too. 


Will has been voted as the #1 junior barrister under 40 in London; he is congratulated by clerks and fellow barristers at the (private) firm where he works.  In the #2 position is Maggie Gardner (Sophie Okonedo), a woman who respects Will but has a long-time professional rivalry with him.  Okonedo is an actress that should REALLY be more known; she has the ability to be whip smart, strong, and also vulnerable (like Tennant).  Maggie is a BIT surprised when Will decides to take on the case of suspected murderer, Liam Foyle (Toby Kebbell- most recently in the Ben-Hur reboot).


We learn that Foyle asked his solicitor to request Will, who has never lost a case. As he tells his son’s class at career day, Will believes that “everyone deserves a defense.” However, the details of this particular killing turn his stomach and keep him up late at night.  Also, Foyle is NOT the most pleasant defendant (Kebbell makes a creepy villain), which may turn off the jury.  Check out Season 1, Episode 3 of Black Mirror (Netflix)to see Kebbell’s acting range.