Michaela Coel is wrapped in brilliance.

Her newest series (which she executive produces, co-directs, writes and stars in), I May Destroy You, has everyone talking and speechless at the same time.

The synopsis of the show, via HBO:

The series is a fearless, frank and provocative series that explores 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.

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Many other have already expressed this sentiment, but I May Destroy You has destroyed me. I was able to digest the entire first season via advanced screeners (also note: the show airs episodes on BBC ahead of HBO) and I must say it is the best representation of sexual assault and sexual consent that I’ve ever seen. The care, concern and tenderness this series handles such a complex and varying topic will leave you gutted. It is important to note that I always add a disclaimer to my glowing reviews by citing a trigger warning as the content is very raw and very real.

I’ve been a fan of Coel since Chewing Gum, so was thrilled to sit down with her via Zoom to chat about her series, which served as a “cathartic” processing for her own experience with sexual assault. What most impressed me was the way it balanced such heaviness with Coel’s patented humor, which made the series all the more endearing—all the more human.

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“When I think about how this show ended up with this quite absurd tone to it, I think back to my own reality, when I was in the police investigation room getting ready to give my witness statement for the first time and I remember it slowly beginning to compute that something really bad has happened and that the course of my life would be forever shifted,” Coel told The Root. “It’s a very disorienting place to find myself in and as I looked to my friend, who was taking care of me that day...he was playing Pokémon Go on his phone and [chuckles] that was the tone that never left me when just when I was beginning to process the darkness, something funny shows up like an unwanted guest at a party.”

Much like the full agency and autonomy she claimed with creating this very series, Coel followed that same theme when it came to retaining copyright for her creation. The creator made headlines when she revealed she turned down a a $1 million check from Netflix because the streaming platform didn’t offer her any ownership in the project.

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“For me, the show was about exploitation...it was about being disempowered,” Coel continued. “So, for me to not retain any of my rights seemed at odds with the very nature of the show.”

New episodes of I May Destroy You air Mondays on HBO at 9 p.m.

Staff Writer, Entertainment at The Root. Sugar, spice & everything rice. Equipped with the uncanny ability to make a Disney reference and a double entendre in the same sentence.

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She is so brilliant AND goddamn fine. Way underrated. 

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