Liar’s depiction of rape isn’t just insensitive, it’s reckless

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Viewers were invited to doubt Laura’s testimony – drawing focus to her drinking, suggesting that she had past form for false rape accusations. It’s interesting to note, in fact, that in Metro’s review of the first episode, the majority of the comments were in support of Andrew. It wasn’t until the end of the third episode that Liar unequivocally revealed that Andrew had spiked Laura’s drink; that’s half the length of the series predicated on doubting a woman’s account of sexual assault.

Rather than examining the attitudes that lead to people doubting women when they speak out about sexual assault, Liar was advancing them – perpetuating a stereotype that is in many ways genuinely quite harmful. Across recent weeks, the revelation about Harvey Weinstein’s actions has been followed by many women speaking out about their own experiences with sexual assault, and the doubts they faced afterwards. A popular television programmes that invites its five million viewers to think a woman is lying about being raped feeds into the same culture that lets that happen.

A piece about a series that made me quite angry, given that it dealt so poorly with its subject matter.

This article got a lot of traction, actually; it was cited by the BBC in this piece about the series. I don’t think there was enough writing done about Liar that held it account for this, so I’m glad I wrote this piece.

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Why I don’t watch Game of Thrones and I never will

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Game Of Thrones is one of the most popular television series around – a genuine, proper, global phenomenon. When people describe the golden age of television, Game Of Thrones is one of the hallowed offerings placed alongside the likes of Breaking Bad, Mad Men or The Wire. People build their lives around this programme in a way they do with few others – it doesn’t just command a loyal cult following, but a real populist significance too.

I don’t watch Game Of Thrones, though. I never will.

So, a couple of things are going on here.

The above article is not, admittedly, especially good. The main part of my objection to Game of Thrones was, basically, that as I understood it the show had a lot of issues to do with its female characters, chiefly in terms of an overreliance on rape as a plot device. For a couple of reasons, I ended up a little unwilling to actually address that directly, largely talking around the point for five hundred words and leaving it at that. As a result, it’s a bit weak, but also bungles the point entirely – I end up putting “there’s nearly 60 hours of it” on par with “it has massive ethical failings that I would find offensive to watch”, which is, you know, not true, no matter how terrible my attention span is.

The other thing is that, actually, about six months after writing this – probably not even that – I did actually end up watching all of Game of Thrones across the span of two or three weeks. Oops.

I will, I imagine, end up writing about it at some point (I actually took notes while watching it, with the intention of putting together a “117 notes, thoughts and observations I had while watching every episode of Game of Thrones for the first time” type piece, until I realised that brevity is my enemy and that would end up somewhere far in excess of ten thousand words, the sort of length reserved for emails to Alexis rather than Yahoo blog posts I’m paid a pittance for) so I’ll hold off on giving you my full thoughts on the show now. Suffice to say, while it does actually have some good things going for it, pretty much every critique I’d heard vis a vis gender and race and so on was pretty much on the money.

So, even though I’m now more inclined to appreciate the things it does well, I’ve now got a much fuller understanding of the things it does poorly. (Things which, frankly, it is not criticised for even nearly enough.)

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Archie vs Predator: Why Riverdale’s Miss Grundy storyline didn’t work

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On paper, it’s evident what this is – a predatory relationship between a teacher and a student, nothing more complicated than that. Within the show, however, this fairly straightforward detail is lost somewhat, leaving Riverdale in a far more problematic position: Archie and Miss Grundy are presented as having an illicit romance, one which is sexualised and glamorised by the narrative.

In part, it’s perhaps just a matter of visuals; it’s easy to forget that the teenagers in Riverdale really are just that, given that many of the actors look so much older. Without that in mind, the dynamic does change considerably – but it has to be remembered that Archie and his peers are 16 years old, all minors. Miss Grundy is a statutory rapist. There’s no other way of looking at it.

I actually really like Riverdale, generally speaking. It’s a huge amount of fun, and I’m disappointed that the first time I’ve written about it has been to critique it, rather than celebrating it.

But, much as I enjoy it, it does have flaws. And one of those flaws is the utterly tone-deaf and poorly handled Miss Grundy storyline, in which the show sexualises and glamorises a predatory relationship.

So, you know. Some limits.

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Broadchurch series three was about toxic masculinity – so why did it end by saying “not all men”?

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The series, then, was about toxic masculinity. That was the overarching theme, evident from the start and continued (almost) to the closing moments of the series. More specifically, though, it was about men controlling women – exerting influence over them, disregarding their boundaries and autonomy, and attempting to control them. 

However, it’s telling that at the end of it all, we get a “not all men” scene. DI Hardy decries the rapist as an “aberration”, insisting that “not every man is like that”. Which is odd, really – quite apart from all the problems inherent with that phrase, it seemed like every episode up until now had been about saying yes, actually. All men.

So why did the final episode flip the script?

Hmm, so. Broadchurch series 3.

Mostly, everyone loved this series of Broadchurch. I thought it was particularly good – and, really, more importantly particularly sensitive in terms of how it handled its rape plotline – until, at least, the final episode. There were a lot of issues, I reckon; from pushing Trish to the edges of the narrative, essentially removing her from her own story right at the end, to the redemption scenes given to each man (particularly Charlie Higson’s character), to the identity of Trish’s attacker full stop. Oh, and, the fact it said “not all men”. Yikes.

Pretty much no one, however, seemed to be writing about it – the praise was largely without caveats, and none of the above was raised in critique. So, obviously, I wrote about it. Problem was, I suspect, it took me a week to actually get the above piece done, so it didn’t exactly latch onto the public consciousness. I hope that, if Broadchurch ever undergoes a critical re-evaluation, this final episode becomes a bit more of a sticking point.

The other thing about this article, though, is that I decided to avoid outright criticising the show – or, maybe more accurately, just criticising the show. I thought it’d be a bit more interesting and worthwhile to try and divine why Broadchurch swerved at the last moment, and what that meant in terms of the overall message it was trying to impart. I’m not so sure about the second half of the piece, where I get all symbolic about things; nowadays, I’d be much more direct in my condemnation, like I was with Liar. Though equally Liar was a lot more straightforward in its flaws, so, perhaps it wouldn’t have necessitated an article like the above in the way that Broadchurch did. Or seemed to me to.

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Why Star Trek: Discovery must deal with the legacy of Janice Rand

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Janice Rand is probably the most obvious victim of the strain of sexism and misogyny that ran through Star Trek’s early years – initially the programme’s female lead, Janice Rand was gradually phased out of the show across the first half of the season. She was on the receiving end of attempted rape, objectification, and frequently belittled and undercut by both other characters and the narrative itself.

Star Trek’s treatment of Janice Rand is fundamentally at odds with the utopian idealism that is so often sold as the franchise’s main virtue. For Star Trek: Discovery to now make attempts at returning to that 60s utopianism, it must by the same virtue address the legacy of Janice Rand within the narrative.

It’s become increasingly clear that Star Trek: Discovery is going to be very deeply entrenched in 60s nostalgia, returning to the aesthetic and many of the characters of The Original Series.

If Discovery is to do that, it’s going to have to address the failings of the original Star Trek – it’s going to have to put right what once went wrong.

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Broadchurch series 3 finale – who attacked Trish? One last look at the suspects

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Over the past eight weeks we’ve watched Broadchurch, with rapt attention, as Hardy and Miller attempted to solve one final crime.

The first episode saw Trish Winterman (Julie Hesmondlalgh) calling the police the morning after being sexually assaulted. Over the course of the rest of the series, it was revealed that there was a serial rapist in the coastal town.

Tonight (Monday, April 17), the attacker is set to be revealed – last week’s episode ended on a cliffhanger as Miller and Hardy found the last piece of evidence they needed. Here’s a final look at who it could be, and why…

One last piece on Broadchurch for the Metro.

I never got these articles quite right, to be blunt. There was something that seemed a little tawdry about writing, effectively, whodunnit theory posts for Broadchurch series 3 in a way that doesn’t quite seem to apply with the first two instalments of the show. Indeed, while I was writing them, one of my Yahoo colleagues Ben Homes wrote something to that affect, saying the show wasn’t about a whodunnit; while I’m not quite sure I’d agree, it did feel a little like an indirect, whether consciously or not – probably not, and it was more my own concerns about what I was doing that prompted how I read his piece.

You can notice, too, that I never quite came out and directly addressed what happened in Broadchurch, always using words like “attacked” or “assaulted”; my friend Zak, who’d been reading my articles but not watching the show, was under the impression until fairly late in the season that there had been another murder, which is telling.

So, yeah, I don’t know. In the grand scheme of things, I don’t think my approach with these articles is exactly an ethical failing or whatever, but there was definitely a bit of a screw-up going on here.

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Broadchurch episode 5 – all the clues you might have missed

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With another new episode of Broadchurch, the case continues to unfold.

There’s still little sign of the net closing around one particular person – in fact, Broadchurch threw us a curveball this episode, with the implication that the attacker is someone entirely new that we’ve not yet seen before.

It’ll be a while still before we can be certain who did it – but for now, consider these potential suspects.

Another article on Broadchurch for the Metro.

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Broadchurch episode 4 – Who attacked Trish? Here are all the clues you might have missed

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With another new episode of Broadchurch, the case continues to unfold, and become murkier than ever.

There’s still little sign of the net closing in around one particular person – Broadchurch is still quite resolutely keeping the suspects ambiguous, with plenty of contrasting evidence to suggest different people.

It’ll be a while still before we can be certain who did it – but for now, here’s is how these potential suspects are shaping up.

Another article on Broadchurch for the Metro.

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Broadchurch: Who attacked Trish? All the clues pointing to the attacker you might have missed in episode 3

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As the drama series progresses, the case continues to unfold – episode 3 introduces us to more new suspects and gives us more evidence to consider.

There’s no sign of the net closing around one particular person, however – Broadchurch is still quite resolutely keeping the suspects ambiguous, with plenty of contrasting evidence to suggest different people.

It’ll be a while still before we can be certain who did it – but for now, take a look at these pieces of evidence…

Another article on Broadchurch for the Metro.

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Broadchurch episode two – Here are the latest clues as to who attacked Trish

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Tonight’s episode of Broadchurch saw Alec Hardy (David Tennant) and Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman) meet with three potential suspects, while Trish gave her deposition interview about what happened the night of the assault.

As with every episode of Broadchurch, there were plenty of twists and turns ahead, not to mention a big helping of characters behaving suspiciously.

Here are some of the clues and details from tonight’s episode that might hold the key to solving the mystery.

Latest Broadchurch article, analysing the potential suspects from tonight’s episode.

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