I May Destroy You

Last updated

I May Destroy You
I May Destroy You intertitle.png
Genre Drama
Created by Michaela Coel
Written byMichaela Coel
Directed by
Starring
Country of origin
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
Original languages
  • English
  • Italian
  • Twi
No. of series1
No. of episodes12
Production
Executive producers
  • Michaela Coel
  • Phil Clarke
  • Roberto Troni
  • Sam Miller
  • Jo McLellan
Producers
  • Simon Meyers
  • Simon Maloney
Production locations
  • London, England
  • Ostia, Italy
CinematographyAdam Gillham
Editors
  • Christian Sandino-Taylor
  • Lindsey Woodward
  • Mike Phillips
  • Guy Bensley
  • John Dwelly
  • Amy Hounsell
Camera setup Single-camera
Running time28–35 minutes
Production companies
  • Various Artists Limited
  • FALKNA Productions
Distributor
Release
Original network
Picture format 1080i (HDTV)
First shown inUnited States [lower-alpha 1]
Original release7 June (2020-06-07) 
14 July 2020 (2020-07-14)

I May Destroy You is a British drama television series created, written, co-directed, and executive produced by Michaela Coel for BBC One and HBO. The series is set in London with a predominantly Black British cast. [2] Coel stars as Arabella, a twenty-something writer in the public eye who seeks to rebuild her life after being raped. The series premiered on 8 June 2020 on BBC One and on 7 June 2020 on HBO. [3]

Contents

According to Metacritic it was the most critically-acclaimed TV show of 2020, [4] and was described by the New York Times as "the perfect show for an anxious world." [5] It won the BAFTAs for Best Mini-Series, Best Director: Drama, Best Writer: Drama and Best Actress, in addition to two RTS Programme Awards, two Independent Spirit Awards, a Gotham Award, a GLAAD Media Award, an NAACP Image Award and a Peabody Award.

It is currently nominated for nine Primetime Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Limited Series. [6]

Premise

Arabella (Michaela Coel) is a young Twitter-star-turned-novelist in her late 20s who found fame with her debut book Chronicles of a Fed-Up Millennial and is publicly celebrated as a Millennial icon. While struggling to meet a deadline for her second book, she takes a break from work to meet up with friends on a night out in London. The following morning, she struggles to remember what happened to her, but recalls the events of the night with the help of her friends Terry (Weruche Opia) and Kwame (Paapa Essiedu).

Cast and characters

Main

Recurring

  • Marouane Zotti as Biagio, a drug dealer based in Ostia, Italy, who has a casual relationship with Arabella
  • Stephen Wight as Ben, Arabella's flatmate
  • Adam James as Julian, Arabella's literary agent
  • Natalie Walter as Francine, Arabella's financier
  • Aml Ameen as Simon, Arabella's friend who works in the City of London
  • Lara Rossi as Kat, Simon's partner
  • Ann Akin as Alissa, Simon's secret lover
  • Chin Nyenwe as Tariq, David's friend
  • Lewis Reeves as David, from Ego Death
  • Sarah Niles as Officer Funmi
  • Mariah Gale as Officer Beth
  • Rebecca Calder as Shirley, a rape victim who meets Arabella at the hospital
  • Andi Osho as Carrie, Arabella's therapist
  • Fehinti Balogun as Damon, Kwame's love interest
  • Karan Gill as Zain Tareen, writer from Henny publishing
  • Tobi King Bakare as Nicholas, Arabella's brother
  • Ellie James as Sion, Susy's assistant
  • Franc Ashman as Susy Henny, Arabella's publisher
  • Harriet Webb as Theodora, Arabella and Terry's childhood classmate
  • Shalisha James-Davis as Loretta, a member of Theodora's support group
  • Gaby French as teen Theodora
  • Danielle Vitalis as teen Arabella
  • Lauren-Joy Williams as teen Terry
  • Pearl Chanda as Nilufer, Kwame's first female hookup
  • Gershwyn Eustache Jnr as Tyrone, one of Kwame's hookups
  • Tyler Luke Cunningham as Kai, Terry's love interest

Notable guests

Episodes

I May Destroy You, season 1 episodes
No.Title [7] Directed by [7] Written by [7] Original air date [1] US airdate [7] US viewers
(millions)
1"Eyes Eyes Eyes Eyes" Sam Miller Michaela Coel 8 June 2020 (2020-06-08)7 June 20200.212 [8]
Arabella is on a deadline to finish her second book. She decides to take a break by going for a drink with friends. At some point during the night, she is raped in a bar toilet.
2"Someone Is Lying"Sam MillerMichaela Coel9 June 2020 (2020-06-09) [lower-alpha 2] 14 June 20200.229 [9]
Suffering traumatic memories of the rape, Arabella goes to the police. Meanwhile, Terry has a film audition.
3"Don't Forget the Sea"Sam MillerMichaela Coel15 June 2020 (2020-06-15) [lower-alpha 3] 22 June 20200.156 [10]
A flashback to Ostia, Italy where Arabella and Terry have a wild night out, meeting local man Biagio.
4"That Was Fun"Sam Miller & Michaela CoelMichaela Coel16 June 2020 (2020-06-16) [lower-alpha 3] 29 June 20200.098 [11]
Arabella becomes close with fellow writer Zain. They later have sex and he removes the condom without her knowledge. Meanwhile, Kwame and Damon visit a man from Grindr, and this encounter turns violent after Damon leaves.
5"...It Just Came Up"Sam Miller & Michaela CoelMichaela Coel22 June 2020 (2020-06-22) [lower-alpha 4] 6 July 20200.108 [12]
Arabella exposes Zain's actions at a literary festival. Kwame goes to the police about his attack but is not taken seriously.
6"The Alliance"Sam Miller & Michaela CoelMichaela Coel23 June 2020 (2020-06-23) [lower-alpha 4] 13 July 20200.128 [13]
Arabella attends a support group hosted by Theodora, who was at school with her and Terry. In a flashback to the mid-2000s, Theo accuses classmate Ryan of violent rape, but Arabella and Terry provide evidence to the teachers that her story is not entirely true. [14]
7"Happy Animals"Sam Miller & Michaela CoelMichaela Coel29 June 2020 (2020-06-29) [lower-alpha 5] 20 July 20200.102 [15]
Arabella becomes an influencer for a vegan brand, and hosts a birthday party for Terry. At the party she attempts to matchmake Kwame with another man by locking them in her bedroom. There is tension between Theo and Terry.
8"Line Spectrum Border"Sam Miller & Michaela CoelMichaela Coel30 June 2020 (2020-06-30) [lower-alpha 5] 27 July 20200.087 [16]
After the police close the investigation, Arabella makes a surprise visit to Biagio who refuses to see her. Kwame hooks up with a woman (Nilufer) but it ends badly when he reveals he is gay.
9"Social Media Is a Great Way to Connect"Sam Miller & Michaela CoelMichaela Coel6 July 2020 (2020-07-06) [lower-alpha 6] 3 August 20200.088 [17]
It is Halloween. Arabella's increasing social media presence drives a wedge between her and her friends.
10"The Cause the Cure"Sam Miller & Michaela CoelMichaela Coel7 July 2020 (2020-07-07) [lower-alpha 6] 10 August 20200.115 [18]
Arabella's family meet up for her mum's birthday, prompting memories of her childhood spent between two parental homes. Meanwhile, Kwame meets Tyrone in an attempted hookup, but instead their relationship becomes more romantic.
11"Would You Like to Know the Sex?"Sam Miller & Michaela CoelMichaela Coel13 July 2020 (2020-07-13) [lower-alpha 7] 17 August 20200.088 [19]
Arabella's publishers drop her book as she has still not finished it, after she had reached out to successful author "Della" signed to the same publisher. It transpires that Della is a pseudonym used by Zain, who offers to help Arabella with her writing. [20] Terry finally gets an acting part and goes on a date with Kai, a trans man.
12"Ego Death"Sam Miller & Michaela CoelMichaela Coel14 July 2020 (2020-07-14) [lower-alpha 7] 24 August 20200.121 [21]
Arabella imagines multiple ways in which she and Terry could exact revenge on her rapist, but ultimately decides to move on. She uses these thoughts to finally complete her second book, and the episode concludes at her launch party.

Release

The series premiered on 8 June 2020 on BBC One in the United Kingdom. [1] The first episode had already premiered in advance on 7 June 2020 on HBO in the United States. [22]

Production

Coel stated in a lecture at the 2018 Edinburgh Festival Fringe that she had been sexually assaulted while writing Chewing Gum, and that the experience provided inspiration for the series. [23]

Originally titled January 22nd, the series is produced by Coel's production company, FALKNA Productions. It is executive produced by Coel, Phil Clarke, Roberto Troni, and Jo McClellan for BBC One. [24] Coel is also co-director and writer for I May Destroy You. Coel turned down a $1 million (£800,000) offer from Netflix for the show because the deal would have taken full rights ownership away from the creator. Coel subsequently made a deal with the BBC which allowed Coel full creative control and ownership rights of her project and the BBC brought on HBO as a co-producer to help fund the project. [25]

The series was predominantly filmed in the London Borough of Hackney with some scenes filmed in Italy.

School interior and exteriors for the flashback scenes were shot at Acland Burghley School in the London Borough of Camden.

Critical response

I May Destroy You holds an average score of 86 out of 100 based on reviews from 25 critics on review aggregator Metacritic, indicating "universal acclaim". [4] On Rotten Tomatoes, 97% of 72 reviews are positive, with an average score of 8.55/10. The website's critical consensus is, "I May Destroy You is at once brave and delicate, untangling the trauma of sexual assault with dark humour and moments of deep discomfort all held together on the strength of Michaela Coel's undeniable talent." [26]

Writing for The New York Times , critic Mike Hale called the series "touching and quietly hilarious." He praised Coel and the show's willingness to push boundaries. [27] In her review for Time, critic Judy Berman noted the show's unique and complex telling of a story centred on sexual assault after the Me Too movement. [22]

French newspaper Le Monde includes I May Destroy You in its Top 10 of the best 2020 TV shows. [28]

The show featured heavily on year-end lists. Metacritic listed it as the best TV show of the year based on critic top 10 lists, with more than thirty #1 placements. [29]

Awards and nominations

YearAwardCategoryNominee(s)ResultRef.
2021 British Academy Television Awards Best Mini-Series I May Destroy YouWon [30]
Best Actor Paapa Essiedu Nominated
Best Actress Michaela Coel Won
Best Supporting Actress Weruche Opia Nominated
British Academy Television Craft Awards Best Director: Fiction Michaela Coel and Sam Miller Won
Best Editing: Fiction Editing TeamWon
Best Make Up & Hair Design Bethany SwanNominated
Best Writer: Drama Michaela CoelWon
Costume Designers Guild Awards Excellence in Contemporary Television Lynsey Moore (for "Social Media is a Great Way to Connect")Nominated [31]
Critics' Choice Television Awards Best Limited Series I May Destroy YouNominated [32]
Best Actress in a Limited Series or Television Movie Michaela CoelNominated
GLAAD Media Awards Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series I May Destroy YouWon [33] [34]
Gotham Independent Film Awards Breakthrough Series – Short Form Michaela Coel, Phil Clarke and Roberto TroniWon [35]
Independent Spirit Awards Best New Scripted SeriesMichaela Coel, Phil Clarke and Roberto TroniWon [36]
Best Ensemble Cast in a New Scripted SeriesMichaela Coel, Paapa Essiedu, Weruche Opia and Stephen Wight Won
Motion Picture Sound Editors Awards Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing – Live Action Under 35 Minutes Jim Goddard, Joe Beal, Tom Deane, Alex Sidiropoulos and Anna Wright (for "Eyes Eyes Eyes Eyes")Nominated [37]
MTV Movie & TV Awards Best Performance in a Show Michaela CoelNominated [38]
NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special Michaela CoelNominated [39]
Outstanding Directing in a Comedy SeriesSam Miller and Michaela Coel (for "Ego Death")Nominated
Outstanding Writing in a Comedy SeriesMichaela Coel (for "Ego Death")Won
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series Michaela Coel, Phil Clarke, Roberto Troni, Sam Miller and Jo McLellanPending [40]
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie Michaela CoelPending
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie Paapa EssieduPending
Outstanding Directing for a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie Sam Miller and Michaela Coel (for "Ego Death")Pending
Sam Miller (for "Eyes Eyes Eyes Eyes")Pending
Outstanding Writing for a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie Michaela CoelPending
Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards Outstanding Casting for a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie Julie HarkinPending
Outstanding Contemporary Costumes Lynsey Moore, Rosie Lack and Debbie RobertsPending
Outstanding Music Supervision Ciara Elwis and Matt Biffa (for "Ego Death")Pending
Producers Guild of America Awards David L. Wolper Award for Outstanding Producer of Limited Series Television Michaela Coel, Phil Clarke, Roberto Troni, Simon Meyers and Simon MaloneyNominated [41]
RTS Programme Awards Mini-SeriesI May Destroy YouWon [42]
Writer – DramaMichaela CoelWon
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Limited Series Michaela CoelNominated [43]
Television Critics Association Awards Program of the Year I May Destroy YouPending [44]
Outstanding Achievement in Movies, Miniseries and Specials Pending
Outstanding New Program Pending
Individual Achievement in Drama Michaela CoelPending

Notes

  1. Episode 1 first aired in the United States on HBO, while episodes 2–12 first aired in the United Kingdom on BBC One.
  2. "Someone Is Lying" was first released on BBC iPlayer on 8 June 2020, ahead of its broadcast on television.
  3. 1 2 "Don't Forget the Sea" and "That Was Fun" were first released on BBC iPlayer on 15 June 2020, ahead of their broadcast on television.
  4. 1 2 "...It Just Came Up" and "The Alliance" were first released on BBC iPlayer on 22 June 2020, ahead of their broadcast on television.
  5. 1 2 "Happy Animals" and "Line Spectrum Border" were first released on BBC iPlayer on 29 June 2020, ahead of their broadcast on television.
  6. 1 2 "Social Media Is a Great Way to Connect" and "The Cause the Cure" were first released on BBC iPlayer on 6 July 2020, ahead of their broadcast on television.
  7. 1 2 "Would You Like to Know the Sex?" and "Ego Death" were first released on BBC iPlayer on 13 July 2020, ahead of their broadcast on television.

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