Did This New Show Treat Sexual Assault As A Joke?

Photo Courtesy of Showtime.
The new show Roadies on Showtime has gotten good reviews. Even real-life roadies told The Guardian that much of the plot and scenarios rang true to them. It's clever, entertaining, and filling the rock'n'roll show void that HBO's Vinyl left us with. However episode 3 ("The Bryce Newman Letter") proved problematic when it made light of sexual assault. In fact, many viewers and critics believe it went too far.

In the episode, Bryce Newman (Rainn Wilson), a music critic and blogger, writes a savage review of the Stanton-House (the fictional band that the show is centered around) based off a YouTube video. The band's manager, Reg (Rafe Spall) invited Newman to watch a live performance, and in their efforts to sway his feelings on the group, the crew a.k.a. the roadies secretly drug him with heavy-duty hallucinogens. As the drugs kick in, a crazed female fan sexually assault him while he is incapacitated by the drug. Afterwards, he stumbles on stage in a bathrobe and proclaims that he is a shit journalist before ending the scene completely naked.

We, the audience, are meant to sympathize with the crew and their ingenuity of getting Newman to metaphorically see the light and take back his harsh words. According to them, justice has been served. But justice in the form of drugging and assaulting someone? No thanks.
One critic at Variety, Maureen Ryan, was especially put off by the inclusion of the scene and said it was "jaw-droppingly ill-conceived. She wrote, "While acknowledging that women are more likely to be the victims of rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment, it must be said that none of what occurs on Roadies is okay because it happens to a man. Assault is still assault, and consent still matters."

The most disturbing part about it all is that according to an interview with the show's creator, Cameron Crowe, nearly everything depicted on the show actually happened. In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, Crowe says “every story line is something that we saw or experienced or know to be true.”

Crowe also told them that this episode was "lifted directly from the time Led Zeppelin invited a rock journalist on tour and 'then proceeded to prank him within an inch of his life.' "

Bottom line: Sexual assault is never a joke, hit television show or otherwise.

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