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This review touches on topics of rape and sexual assault which may be upsetting or disturbing for some readers.

5 out of 5 stars

“Unbelievable” is an eight-episode Netflix miniseries that is one of the streaming channel’s newest shows. It is based on the true story of a sexual assault victim who overcomes hardships in the face of adversity and fear. Hard to watch at times, and anger-inducing, this series created quite a stir in the feminist community and received a wave of reviews.

Released to Netflix on Sept. 13, 2019, the show is based on a 2015 article titled “An Unbelievable Story of Rape.” The article was a part of a joint project that ended up winning a Pulitzer Prize and inspired the creation of this new series centered around controversial topics and sensitive material.

The series begins with the retelling of actions and incidents that occur in the life of Marie, the main character of the story, played by actress Kaitlyn Dever. Marie is a young woman who is raped early on in the series. She decides to tell the police after feeling like her life is being threatened. Instead of providing comfort and reassurance, the police badger Marie with questions and ask her to repeat her jarring story over and over again. This leads her to redact her statement that she made and question everything she thought about police ”keeping people safe.” She gets upset at the station and eventually tells the police that she lied and made up the story, sending her life into a downward spiral. 

This story is one we have seen often in the news and the media over the past 10 years when memories and true statements resurface after being swept under the rug for years and years. Victims are forced to suffer in silence because they feel as if they “won’t be believed;” these cases are very real. Marie’s story is one of many; the series was created to shed light on the reasons behind her “lie” and why some women feel as though they cannot share the truth with the world after being raped or harassed.

Marie is ridiculed, made fun of and harassed throughout each episode of the series because of her alleged lie to the police. She becomes known as “the girl who cried rape.” What other characters in the show don’t know is that everything she said about the rape was true. This causes us as the audience to root for the main character while spending much of the series being angry and upset at the injustice we know is being done to Marie.

This series is haunting, aggravating and thought-provoking in the best way. It forces us to listen to a story that was swept under the rug by the police and having a feeling of hope when all hope could be lost. While I watched the show, I found myself frustrated for Marie and wishing for justice to finally find her. The people she goes to for help and guidance continually fail to provide her with the relief and the necessities she needs to feel comfortable and safe. This series shows us that people end up taking back their statements or lying to cover up an incident for reasons other than to make trouble for the police. Marie is an example of a woman who felt like no one would believe her story, even after facing obvious emotional and physical trauma. 

Now more than ever, women are being told to make their voices heard and to share their stories despite not being listened to or ignored at first glance and this series could not have been produced and released to Netflix at a better time. With the political climate heating up in our country, and the #MeToo movement still in full swing, true stories such as this one that shed light on the injustice done to women in America.

For resources related to sexual harassment, assault or rape, please contact the University of Maine Counseling Center at 207-581-1392, the University of Maine Police Department at 207-581-4040, or Culter Health Center at 207-581-4000, or for an off-campus confidential resource contact Rape Response Services at 1-800-310-0000 or Partners for Peace at 1-800-863-9909.