Why Binge’s ‘I May Destroy You’ Became a Cultural Sensation

May I Destroy You

Trigger Warning: This article mentions sexual assault.

You may have heard people talking about BINGE’s new offering I May Destroy You. You may also have heard that the new UK series is quite brilliant. And they’d be right.

The 12 part BBC/HBO series stars Michaela Coel and focuses on a number of hot topics from gender, sexual assault, sex, race, power, money and social media. It’s a fantastic pot of everything — and just what 2020 needs right now.

Coel not only plays lead Arabella, but she is the creator, writer and executive producer, and much like Fleabag’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge, her series is loosely based around her life.

I May Destroy You is inspired by her own experience with sexual assault which makes it even more confronting. Her character feels it and so does she.

“Prior to being raped, I never took much notice of being a woman,” Arabella says, reading from a draft speech. “I was too busy being black and poor.”

Arabella is a writer who wrote her first book, Chronicles of a Fed-Up Millennial after a series of Tweets went viral and made her famous. When we meet her, she is bidding adieu to her Italian lover Biaggio (Marouane Zotti) to settle back into life in her hometown of London. She knows she won’t see him again, yet yearns for his affection.

Her publisher is waiting on a second novel, one which she is struggling to write, so she does what every millennial would do. Rather than get writing, she goes out drinking with her best friend, Terry (Weruche Opia).

It’s here that things become hazy and the next day, she tries to piece everything together. Flashbacks show her snorting cocaine and drinking shots of tequila. She wakes up with a cracked phone screen and a cut on her head and then realises a large withdrawal of money has been made. She has no idea what happened.

The series main theme centres around the aftermath of sexual assault. She didn’t give consent, or did she? It’s a murky grey area and a conversation that happens so often, it’s horrific.

Throughout the episodes, each character Arabella, Terry and two of their friends Kwame  (Paapa Essiedu) and Theo (Harriet Webb) all have experiences that are confusing. It’s painful to watch, but a necessary conversation.

“As a fellow android exploring what it means to be human, watching Michaela be vulnerable on-screen as she walks in her truth gives me and so many the bravery to walk in ours,” musician Janelle Monáe, a friend of Coel, told Variety. And she is right. Once somebody is brave enough to stand up, others will.

“It’s rare that you see a Black woman writing, directing, and starring in their own TV show centred around the trauma she experienced,” she added.

I May Destroy You is definitely worth the binge, but we warn you, once you start you won’t be able to stop.

All episodes of I May Destroy are now streaming on BINGE.

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