What is Scanning Series? It is a deep analysis of all parts of movies, series, magazines, anything really, in order to detect the best and worst features beyond the obvious. (This article contain spoilers — and great provocative notes )
It was Saturday night when I opened my HBO app to check out new series and I May Destroy You poster immediately caught my attention, the face of a woman showing extreme vulnerability also full strength. I started watching at the beginning of July and it officially debuted June 4th, so I had 4 episodes already available to binge-watch, but this show requires time to digest as each episode is intense, beautifully written/acted and unlike any other show.
It’s difficult to describe what is it about, in my opinion, it’s about being a woman in today's world, which is tough, funny, and weirdly hard to describe sometimes. The 12 episodes, about 30 minutes each, are written, directed and acted by Michaela Coel, inspired by her real-life experience of being drugged and raped. Still, don’ limit your mind thinking you now know what it is about, consider it just a way to explore a fearless narrative around sex, consent, identity, trauma, growth, literally everything. It awakens deep reflections and I selected 5 that touched me the most and deserves an extra look through:
🟣 CONSENT It’s crazy to think that consent has different types of interpretations other than the correct one: permission or agreement to something. Therefore, what is consent to you? Stop for a minute and think about all situations involving it. It’s amazing how Michaela brings the topics of sex and consent by exploring its various nuances in different situations.
Guy takes a condom in the middle of sex without telling the other person? Was that consensual? NO! The other didn’t know, so how could that be? In other words, this situation is sexual assault.
You just had sex with someone, but don’t wanna do it again and you are forced to do it. Or the person wants to try something new and you don’t. Was that consensual? NO! It doesn’t matter if you just had sex, if one of the persons involved doesn’t wanna do it again, the consent is not there. This situation is sexual assault.
Two friends go to a club looking for someone to have a threesome and act like they were all strangers, without telling the third person they knew each other. Was that consensual? NO people! I know this may sound polemic, but in this case, makes it a non-consensual situation, the third person has the right to know they are friends and looking for a third one. This is sexual assault.
The first step to beat a traumatic experience is to acknowledge that happened, which is already hard enough, and then comes confrontation and absorption. In other words, you need to “live” again, let it feel everything in order to overcome it. The show addresses this topic in the most human way I’ve ever seen on television. After being drugged and raped in the first episode, Arabella, the series explores in the next 11 episodes, the feeling of living the psychological damages caused by the assault only shown in flashback memories scenes. The challenge is to understand the process of overcoming with her.
🟣 THE HERO IS THE ANTI-HERO
The way Michaela Coel wrote the show, the main character Arabella is the hero of the show, you are experiencing her life as you were in her head and at the same time, as you were any other viewer just watching her, which also makes her an anti-hero. It is mind-blowing! As she internalizes her pain, actions around self-sabotage, treating her friends badly, self-destruction, makes you dislike her for seconds and forget that she is a human being who just lived a very traumatic experience. And other times, she is simply the best version of herself.
🟣 SEX & PERIOD
Why are we ashamed regarding our period? Women are raised not to embrace the blood, but to be disgusted by it. Have you ever thought about it? We hate something that is completely natural to our bodies. As a woman, I was shocked by how beautiful it is the scene where the Arabella is menstruating and doesn’t want to have sex, and the guy treats her period as something more natural than her. It’s shocking only because it is true. The character is completely embarrassed and the guy is curious and calm. Shout out for all the men out there who see menstruation as it is and not something repulsive. We see you and we thank you! And women, let’s embrace it instead of reject something that is part of us.
🟣 PRIVILEGE The cast is mainly black actors, which of course brings the subject of privilege to the table. One specific conversation between Arabella and a friend made me think and rethink it until now. In the scene, Pastor Samson says to her: “And what now, exchange a cow for a carrot? Why must the white man chop at the neck, when the Africans only now beginning to swallow?” As a white Latina and, I never thought about it in this way. Of course, we are living a food and climate crisis, but how interesting to see the perspective of someone who never had an opportunity of something now having and reclaiming his rights of not needing to be the first one to adapt. He deserves the chance to experience the food, he was never able to afford before, and now he can. Does this give him the right to not being the first one to adapt/change? I believe so. And that's why I'm an advocate for equality and inclusion because it is time to live in a world where everyone deserves to have equal opportunities. We need to make sure that the next generation will have a more equivalent life.
I know most of you prefer to watch stuff to distract, to laugh, to enjoy it, but we also need to see things to get us out of our comfort zones. This show made me feel and reflect on everything I already knew, specially being a woman, although now, I've seen from different perspectives. There's always something you can take from it, however bad it may be. I never thought I would be uncomfortable watching sex and period in a scene, something very natural, still not talked/showed enough on screen. A completely different outlook on privilege. New reflections about consent and traumatic experiences. And how heroes and anti-heroes are very related because we are all humans with good and bad days. In order to grow as a human being, we shouldn’t avoid tough/frank conversations, we have to embrace it and learn from it. Yes, the show can be seen as difficult to watch or heavy, and yet, provocative and necessary. Which turn do you want to take? Remember, you are in this world to evolve, not to be stacked.
In other words, thank you Michaela Coel.
Breathtaking monologue by Arabella (Michaela Coel) as she discusses the "gray area" where defining sexual violation comes into question.
Did you watch the show? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section.