If You’re Not Watching This Show, You’re Missing The Best TV Performance of 2020

Welcome to “What’s Good,” a weekly column where we break down what’s soothing, distracting, or just plain good in the streaming world.
What’s Good? I May Destroy You on Crave
Who It’s Good For: Anyone like me who would follow Michaela Coel anywhere. The British writer, director, and actor is  best known for Chewing Gum, one of my all-time favourite comedy series. Coel's fans will be riveted by the extraordinary I May Destroy You, but you should be warned that Chewing Gum’s screwball comedy style is not what you’ll get with this HBO series. Coel’s signature charm, striking writing, and breathtaking talent are there, but the subject matter takes a heavy turn. The show tackles consent and sexual assault head on like Netflix’s Unbelievable, but it’s also a rumination on millennial life and love with some drama and comedy mixed in, like Master of None or Looking. But really, this show has no counterpart or easy comparison. It’s an original. It’s for people who love great television. 
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How Good Is It? I promised myself I was going to pick something light this week. Something joyful, I decided. I did not intend to pick a show that needs a trigger warning. But Michaela Coel is too good. And I May Destroy You is so good I had to abandon my plan to distract you (and myself) from the news cycle with a breezy rom-com or a plain com(edy). The thing is, I May Destroy You may tackle serious subject matter but that doesn’t mean it didn’t bring me joy. There’s something thrilling about watching an artist reach their full potential — especially when their art includes rich, nuanced, and vulnerable Black characters. It made me happy to witness Coel own this project with such confidence, grace, and unwavering vision. 
In I May Destroy You, Coel plays Arebella, the author of Chronicles of a Fed-Up Millennial. The book is based on her famous Twitter feed and was so successful, people still stop her on the street to quote lines from it to her face. Her sophomore effort isn’t going well. The show opens with Arabella in Italy where her agents have sent her to write, but instead she spent most of her trip shacking up with a dude who refuses to define their relationship. 
“All I’ve done here is eat four cheese pizza and a dick,” she says to her Italian bae. Within this line lies the beauty of I May Destroy You. Just because it’s technically a show about consent doesn’t mean there can’t be laughs. Whittling down this 12-episode series (Crave has dropped two so far) to a “sexual assault drama” doesn’t do it justice. It’s more of a gut-wrenching dissection of how trauma can unravel a life, even a life as full and funny as Arabella’s. When we meet her, we realize instantly that she’s hilarious — sharp-witted and smart — and that she and her best friends, Grindr-trolling Kwame (Paapa Essiedu), and buoyant and earnest actress Terry (Weruche Opia) are some of the most exhilarating characters you’ll see on TV in 2020. 
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When Arabella is back in London, she has less than 24 hours to complete her second novel’s first draft. She spends most of that time procrastinating and hitting bars with her friends. It’s the latter activity that renders the most serious outcome. Arabella is assaulted in a bathroom stall — a fact we only know through disjointed flashbacks that hit her like gusts of cold, unforgiving wind. Arabella’s memories of the night are unsteady so she’s piecing together the details of her attack as we, the viewers, are. I May Destroy You’s writing and directing (Coel did both on the series and based the show on her own sexual assault story) are stellar, but it’s Coel’s performance that packs an indelible punch. It’s her precise execution of conflicting emotions — poise and fury, disbelief and certainty, frenzy, and calm — that will stay with you long after you stop watching.
So far, the reviews have been outstanding and praise Coel’s genius. I’m hoping she gets all the awards, industry-wide recognition of her brilliance, and the chance to create more Black-ass shows about whatever she wants. That makes me joyful. 
Things that are also good:
• Re-watching your favourite romantic movies with a big ol’ glass of wine and a dash of Brown Sugar
• Desmond Cole’s urgent film, The Skin We’re In
• Scheduling a FaceTime gossip date with your girlfriends — this is my self-care prescription of the week
Dear White Peoples ability to hilariously call out racist fuckery while also delving deep into the lives of its Black students — if you’ve already seen this show, I promise it’s the perfect time to revisit it.  
• The incredible Indigenous documentary series Future History on CBC Gem
Defunding the police
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please visit Shelter Space.

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