Streaming on Netflix

Reviewed by Smriti Poduval, Nupur Marwah, and Pooja Yadav

“This is something they carry with them forever, like a bullet in the spine.”

Unbelievable is the riveting true-crime drama based on the real-life experience of pseudonymous Marie, an eighteen-year-old girl in Lynnwood, Washington who alleged being raped by a masked intruder who had broken into her house, only to be charged for false reporting by the male detectives who accused her of fabricating the distressing story.

An unfortunately familiar tale, one of the repeated victimization of women who report their rapes, only to be met with skepticism and a disinterested system or hollow rationalizations of the perpetrators’ actions. The manner in which the show portrays sexual assault (trigger warnings, are of course applicable to the entire mini-series, however, episode 1 does contain flashback of the rape, while successive episodes contain graphic descriptions), trauma, and the bureaucracy surrounding it are all completely rooted in reality. It is an incredibly powerful depiction, especially in its portrayal of the varying ways in which women deal with or are left to go about their trauma, highlighting how someone at the mercy of the system can be strong-armed and taken advantage of. 

Netflix’s adaptation of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize-winning article “An Unbelievable Story of Rape”, is beautifully written, acted, and directed. Exchanges between Toni Collete and Merritt Wever are not only entertaining, but highlight an important aspect of workplace dynamics between female professionals, while Kaitlyn Dever’s performance as Marie Adler is subtle, yet heartwrenching. In fact, the whole show manages to be understated and matter-of-fact, yet stylistically on-par with any great prestige drama of today. 

Unbelievable is a very well crafted series on a subject that needs to be discussed and brought to the public’s attention with the sensitivity and attention to the narrative presented, as achieved by the show itself.

A must watch, but it is highly recommended to look up the trigger warnings before diving into the show.