Everyone Is Obsessed With ‘I May Destroy You’, But Australia’s Missing Out
'I May Destroy You' is shaping up to be 2020's prestige TV event, and the whole of Australia's late to the party.
By now, you’ve probably heard about I May Destroy You, Michaela Coel’s new BBC/HBO show.
It’s grabbing every pull-quote and praise a TV show could dream for: The New Yorker calls it mesmerizing, The Guardian think it’s ‘a true game-changer’ and even NY Mag‘s profile of Coel has itself been heralded as one of 2020’s best pieces of writing. This show is shaping up to be 2020’s #1 prestige TV event (sorry Normal People) — it’s absolutely everywhere.
Well, everywhere but Australia — the show isn’t available to legally watch in Australia. The delay’s nothing new to Australian audiences, but in an age where even big-budget Pixar films are appearing on demand to stream at the same time across the world, it’s especially frustrating.
First, though, a primer. I May Destroy You is written, created, co-directed, executive, produced and starred in by Londoner Michaela Coel, who you might recognise from Netflix series Black Mirror, Black Earth Rising and Chewing Gum, the last of which she also wrote and starred in.
I May Destroy You is her most autobiographical work yet, a 12-part series based off her own experience being sexually assaulted while working on Chewing Gum. In it, Coel plays Arabella, an it-girl novelist/tweeter who is struggling to piece together her sophomore effort after being lauded as ‘a voice of a generation’. After she wakes from a night out with a hazy memory of what took place, she and her two friends try to piece things together.
According to critics, it’s a masterclass in blending humour and trauma, and is a powerful, unnerving and nuanced look at consent, class, race and sexuality — one which transcends the sometimes exploitative way a show will mine Important Topics to be Important Television.
“Delving into the feast-or-famine world of London’s creative industries,” writes The Guardian‘s Hannah J Davies, “it shares a central premise with Girls – where Lena Dunham’s protagonist memorably declared that she “may be the voice of my generation. Or, at least, a voice of a generation” — but minus its privilege, set instead in a London where its socially mobile but materially lacking protagonists dance to 00s garage in a gentrified bar, visiting a council flat one day and a shiny publishers’ office the next. Novelesque is overused when it comes to the post-Wire TV landscape, but here Coel gives a feeling of moving between different worlds within the same city a la Hanif Kureishi or Zadie Smith, each contrasting vision of London fizzing with realism.”
While I May Destroy You is aired on HBO in the US, we aren’t receiving HBO Max, their streaming service, any time soon due to a long-term contract with Foxtel.
Reaching out to Foxtel, Junkee confirmed that I May Destroy You has been acquired and will air on both Foxtel TV and be available to stream on their recently launched service Binge “later this year”. Considering that Binge just launched, it’s a shame I May Destroy You, exactly the sort of appointment TV that might see people register for an account, isn’t available now.
In the meantime, here’s the trailer, and there are always the features and reviews above.
Chewing Gum, unfortunately, has been removed from Netflix and so can’t fill in the blank, either. In potentially related news, in her interview with NY Mag, Coel said she turned down a $1 million deal with Netflix for I May Destroy You as they wouldn’t give her any percentage of ownership. If you’re still not getting the hype, read the feature, written by E. Alex Jung.