Vincent Cassar
April 10, 2022

I may destroy you

I MAY DESTROY YOU – written and partly directed and fully acted by the amazing Michaela Coel.

This is wondrous because of its ballsy approach, stylish colourful world and hard and naked honesty. There is just so much in this series. it covers all sorts of sexual shenanigans and the contemporaneous politics of race, gender and class. It is groundbreaking stuff.

After the Me Too movement, people realised how important it was for victims stories to be heard. And for others not just to stand around and not call out the bad behaviour of others.

Arabella is a black working class woman who wrote a twitter blog about her dissatisfaction with society that became a bestseller. She gets taken up by the corporates which changes everything about her world.

Her drink is spiked one night and she is raped. She doesn’t remember what has happened but keeps having flashbacks. With her best friend an actress called Terri they go on an urban detective story to find the truth.

So many aspects of this series are troubling in a good way, in order to get you to think. Coel’s approach is to platform a range of sentiments, asking hard questions rather than giving smooth answers.

One of her gay male friends, Kwame is also assaulted. Such things can really fuck with your head and so people can make some odd decision or reactions in other spheres of their lives. Terri’s analogy about nervous systems being like electrical systems is perfect. When your laptop breaks down it goes into safety mode so when people are overloaded with too much stimulation, too much danger like Bella she is empty in herself, she’s dead inside.

Bella tries to see the bigger picture like there are children dying in Africa, war in Syria etc but sometimes you forget about the smaller one: yourself. So it is important to look after that self. Self-care is the order of the day.

She sleeps with Zain, the Cambridge graduate assigned to help her finish her book and he takes off the condom and gaslights Bella into thinking it’s okay. She calls him out publicly when she hears about a rape group forums on Reddit that give tips and tricks on how to do it.

She is dropped from her publishers.  She agrees to be the face of (and what a face!) a vegan company of climateers but when it is pointed out to her she is just being exploited she leaves. Echoes of colonialism just ring too loud for some.

When you have to fight for Black History Month and Women’s Day in a world where genital mutilation is commonplace and rape is used as a weapon of war Bella soon realises that none of these things exist in isolation but that her like  everyone’s decision are based on their experience of the world and how that world has treated then.

Bella is a brave black working class woman trying  to be heard In a world designed by white rich men. So is Michaela Coel. We should all listen.

Vincent Cassar

Vince is co-host of The Wonderbook and a published author and playwright Follow him on Facebook and Instagram.