Unbelievable is the latest Netflix series to take over the Internet, with the Kaitlyn Dever, Toni Collette and Merritt Wever-led series blowing up on social media. The mini series dropped on the streaming platform Friday, shortly followed by high praise from fans and critics who were impressed by its raw honesty and emotional impact.
Warning: Spoilers ahead for Unbelievable.
The eight-episode drama is based on true events reported in the Marshall Project and ProPublica's Pulitzer Prize-winning article "An Unbelievable Story of Rape" by Ken Armstrong and T. Christian Miller, as well as the This American Life episode "Anatomy of Doubt."
Dever (Booksmart, Justifed) plays Marie Adler, a Lynwood, Washington, teenager who is raped — only when she reports the sexual assault to authorities, she receives unfair pressure and gaslighting in return, eventually retracting her statement and being charged with a gross misdemeanor for false reporting. She lives without resolution for years after the rape until two Colorado detectives, Grace Rasmussen and Karen Duvall — played by Collette (Little Miss Sunshine, Hereditary) and Wever (Nurse Jackie, Signs) — connect her photo to rape suspect and former Marine Chris McCarthy. As a result, Marie sues the city of Lynwood and receives a $150,000 settlement.
The true story has viewers unnerved, especially because it's told through Marie's lens — showing family and close friends betray her during the incredibly trying time.
us. I am one of those women that didn’t report when I was 14 for fear of how I’d be treated. Stop shaming women (and men) who are assaulted.— Carl Satan (@saramicheleeee) September 14, 2019
If you have the guts to face how women who report sexual violence are treated by law enforcement, how they are humiliated, antagonized and abandoned by the legal system, and how sometimes it takes women to bring justice to women, please watch #unbelievablenetflix— Nuzhat S. Siddiqi (@guldaar) September 14, 2019
I literally logged in to say this. We're just about to start episode 7. This is a must watch. Harrowing, yes. Triggering, yes. But it's worth it. Toni Collette is outstanding. Merritt Wever is god-level amazing https://t.co/TIz1C7i6jE— 🔪Icegirl🔪 - 🍽️💩 (@_Icegirl69_) September 14, 2019
Dever told Collider about the tough emotions she experienced while portraying Marie.
"The thing that made me so sad is that she had to re-tell that story, over and over again. I can only imagine how many times she was thinking about it, in her head, but then having to say it out loud to someone, and to repeat it to people that she doesn’t even know, it just felt like a cycle of assault," Dever said. "There is the initial assault, and then she’s almost just getting punched in the face, over and over again, and taking it. She’s really going through a lot.
She continued, "During one of the interviews with the detectives, I felt this feeling that actually wasn’t expected. I didn’t expect to feel that way, but I was doing the interview scenes, and we had two full days to get all of them done, and I was sitting there and telling the story, and I knew I was telling the truth, and I knew that I was playing a character that was telling the truth.
Merritt Wever.September 14, 2019
"The response I was getting was not necessarily mean, because the cops weren’t being mean or rude, but the way that they were asking me questions almost didn’t really feel like they believed me, when they were asking me those questions. It immediately made me feel small, and it made me feel like a little kid that was in trouble. I didn’t expect to feel that. It was a really big feeling that I had, and I didn’t expect that. It just made it all the more clear to me, how sad it was."
All eight episodes of Unbelievable are available to stream on Netflix.