Netflix has released a gripping trailer for Unbelievable, a new limited series that's inspired by real tales published in The Marshall Project and a ProPublica Pulitzer prize-winning article, "An Unbelievable Story of Rape," written by T. Christian Miller and Ken Armstrong.
In 2011, 18-year-old Marie filed a report that she was sexually assaulted by an intruder in her apartment where she lived alone. She described the details of the attack to the police officers, got an examination and participated in the investigation, but things didn't go as expected, according to the article. As evidence and her claims fall under suspicion, Marie's story became one of distrust, uncertainty and accusations. CBS Television's Unbelievable aims to bring these events to the screen.
The Netflix trailer slowly reveals the plot as we meet the victim, watch her family and the investigators in charge of her case believe she may have made the attack up entirely. Marie's own conviction seems to waver, and her support is withdrawn. Meanwhile, detectives Grace Rasmussen (Toni Collette) and Karen Duvall (Merritt Wever) meet miles away. As they piece together reports of assaults, they find a pattern. The detectives join together to follow the trail of a serial rapist.
The new drama features Booksmart star Kaitlyn Dever and Emmy-award winners Toni Collette (The Hours) and Merritt Wever (Nurse Jackie). Unbelievable's release comes at a great time for Netflix as it rides on the heels of Dever's critically acclaimed projects Last Man Standing and Booksmart, and Collette's noteworthy performance in Hereditary. Showrunner Susannah Grant also executive produces with Sarah Timberman, Carl Beverly, Lisa Cholodenko, Ayelet Waldman, Michael Chabon, Katie Couric, Richard Tofel, Neil Barsky, Robyn Semien, and the victim - Marie Adler.
Grant (Erin Brockovitch) and Timberman (Elementary), spoke with Refinery29 about the difficulty of handling such sensitive material on screen. They wanted to put great care into each aspect of the investigation.
"There a couple of things you hear said about the process of reporting a rape. One is that the investigation feels like a second assault. And you also hear that the process of going through the kit also feels like an assault. So, rather than just accept that, we really wanted to break that down and communicate that on a more visceral level, so you can experience why that's true in an emotional way,"
Timberman explained the complications with questioning sexual assault victims. She says that each victim behaves differently after an assault or violent crime, adding, "...To draw wrong conclusions can lead you down a tragic path" The creators were conscious of their depiction of the investigators that handled Marie's case. Lisa Cholodenko (The Kids Are Alright), spoke with Refinery29 over the phone about their decision not vilify them.
"I wanted to show them in all their complexity: Yeah, they're a**holes, and they're knuckleheads, but they're also doing their job, and they're asking the right questions - we're tracking with them what is impacting their decisions, even if they're not great ones."
The show comes as a wave of female-centric content soars with television critics. With the success of HBO's Big Little Lies and Sharp Objects, limited series dramas seem to be a safe bet. Make sure to check out the premiere of Unbelievable on Netflix streaming service of Sept.13th.