CHENNAI: The British series, “I May Destroy You,” directed by Michaela Coel and Sam Miller, for HBO and the BBC, comes at a time when sexual consent has become paramount.
There have been films across continents on the subject of rape, even marital, and in India things heated up after the 2012 Nirbhaya case in Delhi. A young woman was brutally assaulted by a group of men and then killed while traveling on an otherwise empty bus with her male friend. A television series on the horrific incident gripped Indians.
Similarly, “I May Destroy You,” written by Coel, bases the drama on her own nightmare experience, and she even performs the lead role as Arabella.
A black woman, born in London to Ghanian parents, Arabella is the best-selling author of “Chronicles of a Fed-Up Millennial,” which is based on her tweets. As the series opens, she is finishing the last chapters of her follow-up book and taking a short break from her rigorous work schedule.
But a night out turns to horror. The following morning, she finds herself in front of her computer with a very clouded idea of what happened during the night. A haunting image, though blurred, of a man sexually assaulting her is all that she can piece together.
This sets in motion the world of Arabella and her two friends, aspiring actress Terry (Weruche Opia) and aerobics instructor Kwame (Paapa Essiedu), which is one of high living. But their lifestyles do not mean that there can be physical violation or sex without consent and “I May Destroy You” examines the various forms of this sort of molestation.
It takes a while for Arabella to realize that her drink was spiked by the man who forced himself on her.
The series has no false note, and is narrated with wit, though sometimes painfully. There is a counselor who recommends handicrafts to get over sexual trauma. The characters are very well fleshed out, and the narrative seamlessly weaves in and out of the tragic and the comic.
But be warned, there are many distasteful visuals, which probably could have been edited out. After all, the Master of the Macabre, Alfred Hitchcock, was able to portray the most gruesome of murders without making them look bloody.