Rape myths and other issues: A Broadchurch review

I am a sci-fi girl. I love my Doctor Who, Westworld, Stranger Things, and a whole bunch of Marvel and other sci-fi movies. Not that I delve too deep into the ‘nerdiness’ of things though because I have no idea what really happens in the comic books. I am just guilty of enjoying the overly glorified money-making franchises. But that leaves me very little room to consume non sci-fi television, and may I say that Broadchurch (a crime drama) has managed to make it to my ultra strict process of selecting new TV shows to watch.

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Set in a small town in England, season three of Broadchurch deals with issues relating to rape when a woman called Trish Winterman is gagged and sexually assaulted at her best friend’s birthday party. So the story line revolves around the question, “Who raped Trish?” I am tempted to go into details and use a bunch of methods to do a textual and narrative analysis, but I have deeper issues to discuss—issues that the show wants to raise:

  1. Who is ‘supposed’ to get raped? If you read the name Trish Winterman and thought she was a young woman wearing revealing clothes, you are entirely wrong and you need to change perception. Trish is somewhere between 45 and 50 years of age, has an adolescent daughter, and is separated from her husband.
  2. Who ‘deserves’ to be raped? NOBODY. Not the ‘slutty’ girl sleeping around, not the girl who talks to many guys, not the shy girl, not the drunk vulnerable girl, not the girl afraid of a man, not the under-age girl; no one, even though I’ve missed out on lots of other descriptions of girls. And it goes without saying men shouldn’t be raped either but I’m discussing it in the context of Broadchurch.
  3. What must one do should they be sexually assaulted? The easy answer is call the police immediately, don’t shower, and don’t wash or throw your clothes away—basically try to retain as much evidence as possible. The difficult answer is to have the presence of mind to do the above. This raises the question: is a woman at fault for not reporting the attack on time? No. And this is also reflected in the relationship Trish has with the inspector in charge of solving this crime, Alec Hardy. Hardy’s impatience with Trish is a nice topic to explore when it comes to police-victim relationships.
  4. Is it a woman’s right to not report a crime at all? This is a shaky one which Broadchurch also aims to discuss although I feel the writers started the topic and ended it abruptly. But you can watch the show to understand it better.
  5. Can a sexual assault be pre-meditated? Yes. Totally. We often think of rape as a ‘spur of the moment’ kind of crime instigated by sexual desires but it really is not that. It’s about violence. It’s about power and the need to subjugate someone.

I am sure that the topics mentioned above aren’t the end of it all. There is so much to understand but I’m not writing a book. What I can do however, is link a rape survivor’s review here. Sure, the writers are being a bit idealistic when it came to the actual investigation; I mean, no investigative/procedural ever leaves a mystery unsolved right? And of course, the police always follows the rules and regulations of collecting evidence. But not so much in the real world.

Still, Broadchurch is one of those few TV shows that actually managed to discuss a very sensitive topic in a beautiful way. I use the word beautiful because important issues are weaved into an already existing story line which makes it look so real. There are so many people to credit for this—the writers, the actors, the direction; but as I’ve said before, I am not a serious film critic. Season 3, for me, is somewhat a cross between a fictitious educational documentary and a crime drama—just without their obviousness. And it makes me sad that this was the end of it all to such an amazing franchise.

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4 Replies to “Rape myths and other issues: A Broadchurch review”

  1. Jessica Jones was one of the first pieces of media I ever watched where I was consciously aware of rape as a topic. It’s a difficult topic, one that needs addressing in a variety of forms, so it’s interesting to hear these types of questions being addressed.

    I just looked up Broadchurch and now want to watch it all.

    Liked by 1 person

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