“Unbelievable” follows Marie (Kaitlyn Dever), a young teen who was raped in her home in 2008. She goes to report the crime to the police, only to find that the police doubt her story and are pushing her to admit that she made the incident up.
The first episode of the series is difficult to watch; as a viewer you are simply outraged and devastated for Marie. But once you get past the pilot, the show is an easy binge, shifting to follow detectives Karen Duvall (Merritt Wever) and Grace Rasmussen (Toni Collette) a couple of years later when they both are given rape cases from their respective counties. The details in their cases fit the MO of Marie’s rapist, but they are not aware of that. And the two detectives work together, pulling all the resources they have into trying to catch the bad guy.
This series really pointed out how having a caring attitude when questioning victims goes a long way. The main detectives are understanding, gentle and respectful with the women who were raped. Meanwhile, the cops questioning Marie made her relive the traumatic experience over and over again through various statements, hounding her on every little inconsistency. It puts into question how we as a society treat rape victims. First, people doubted Marie’s story. Then, once she falsely admitted that her rape did not happen, Marie was ridiculed and became incredibly isolated. She undergoes a traumatic event only to have that event continue to haunt her in the worst ways possible.
The show also highlights how the police don’t communicate with each other. It turns out that they are after one guy who travels from county to county, and the police initially believe that they are after different men. Something I very much appreciated from the show is that it did not give the rapist much screen time; this series is about Marie and the investigation, not about him.
I have been a fan of Dever since “Short Term 12,” she was such a standout in “Booksmart,” and she continues to impress here with her choice of roles. Marie is a quiet character, but you feel for her and are outraged with how those around her treat her after her rape. Of course Collette was fantastic as well; she was the more hardened and blunt of the two detectives. But I was a big fan of Wever’s performance in the show. She was meticulous, attentive and determined to help in whatever way she could. She has an incredibly soothing voice and is someone that I felt like I could instantly trust.
It is disheartening to know that this is a true story and that this is probably not the only instance where a victim was not believed or taken seriously. But the series does give you hope that, with the right people in charge, the ones who really care, they can make a difference and get justice for those who were done wrong.
If you haven’t seen “Unbelievable” yet, it is streaming on Netflix.
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Featured image credit: Beth Dubber/Netflix
Isabelle is a film critic who was born and raised in Dallas. She graduated with a BA in Media Arts with a minor in Spanish at the University of North Texas. To Isabelle, nothing can beat going to the movie theater, it’s her home away from home. And as a lover of all things TV and movies, she runs her own review blog at isabellereviewsmovies.com as well as contributes to irishfilmcritic.com and shuffleonline.net.