This article contains information that could be considered too revealing according to our spoiler policy. Proceed with caution. You can't unsee it!Reason The show doesn't premiere until the day after this post's publication; we got a screener.
Should You Fight The Power With Sweet/Vicious?
MTV's new dramedy features a pair of female protagonists fighting rape culture by physically fighting rapists. Are their adventures worth watching?
What Is This Thing?
Between keeping up with course work from the classes she rarely attends and dealing weed, Darlington University student Ophelia has her hands pretty full. Then, when she's running from campus police, she ends up in an alley where a masked avenger is kicking the shit out of a known campus rapist. When she finds out the vigilante is a sweet blonde sorority sister, she decides it's time to take on a new sideline.
When Is It On?
Tuesdays at 10 PM ET on MTV, starting November 15.
Why Was It Made Now?
Though it's not as though rape has ever not been a topic of concern ("thanks," patriarchy), a new generation of young feminists has, of late, been very vocal about the issue of rape on college campuses.
What's Its Pedigree?
Series creator Jennifer Kaytin Robinson has a couple of acting credits on her CV, per IMDb; this is her first time producing a series in any capacity. Taylor Dearden (Ophelia) has a few obscure credits, starting with "Sad-Faced Girl" on Breaking Bad, but Eliza Bennett (Jules, the vigilante) is more accomplished in her native England, having appeared on Broadchurch and Strike Back. Elsewhere, Brandon Mychal Smith (You're The Worst) plays Harris, a law student who informally represents Ophelia in her various sketchy enterprises; Skyler Day (Parenthood) and Aisha Dee (Chasing Life) play Jules's sorority sisters, Kennedy and Mackenzie.
Generally, I have always found superhero stories redundant, outlandish, and boring -- with the stark exception of the fascinating Jessica Jones. Jules doesn't have superpowers -- she's a regular person who's worked hard in order to develop her talent for fighting -- but like Jessica, her heartbreaking origin story involves sexual assault: Jules was raped by a sorority sister's boyfriend, whom she still has to see all the time. In response, she's gone on the hunt against other sexual predators (the fight that opens the series ends in a particularly satisfying way); presumably the season is building toward her confronting her own attacker.
Ophelia is the less interesting character to begin with: she's able to rebel in her various predictable ways (she's also a hacker) because she comes from money, she's smart enough to skip classes without consequence, and as a legacy is unlikely to face expulsion. Volunteering herself to assist Jules in her righteous crusade gives her a purpose we can root for -- and one I really hope she doesn't end up keeping from Harris. Smith is a delight on You're The Worst, and there he's surrounded by comic heavyweights; here he's far and away the best performer in the cast.
In the premiere, there's a side story about Jules having been put on academic probation -- her extracurricular beatdowns have cut into her study time -- which could potentially have repercussions for her sorority. For that reason, we occasionally leave Ophelia and Jules's story to watch Mackenzie and Kennedy discussing the matter and how to get Jules back on track. I assume the idea is to lighten all the violence and give less "misandrist" viewers a way in -- kind of like how white Piper was the gateway for more-interesting stories about women of colour on Orange Is The New Black -- but given what we know about the matter that's been preoccupying Jules, this is hard to care about, even a little.
Also, I regret to say that Bennett and Dearden are kind of the worst actors in the cast (tied with Nick Fink as Tyler, who's obviously being set up as a love interest for Jules). Here's hoping they grow into their roles soon.
It's tragic that there should ever be a "good" time for a TV series, aimed at young women, that's all about fighting back against rape culture by any means necessary -- but if there ever were, it would definitely be the week after an admitted sexual predator became this nation's president-elect. I'm very, very in.