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kenmorefield

Unbelievable

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I think this Netflix limited series is quite good, an interesting contrast/complement to the procedural elements in Mindhunter. (That show illustrates how some procedures develop over time based on research and new knowledge, Unbelievable shows how procedures don't always change with time or keep abreast of new understanding of crimes.)

I worried that the first episode was a little too on-the-nose or perhaps exaggerated. (I mean, the male detectives are cringe-worthy in their insensitivity and bullying.) But I suspect there people like that, and it's not like the show portrays all men as being insensitive. (The domestic partners of the detectives vs. the males who work with them vs. the boyfriends of the victims show an array of attitudes.)

I had heard this was a Toni Collette vehicle, and she is always fabulous. But I am really impressed by Merritt Wever. The writing doesn't give her a whole lot of interpretive wiggle room -- saintly patient with victim, letting frustration out with male subordinates, struggle to control emotion with domestic partner. But she finds authenticity within it, perhaps because her character is the more self-aware of the two detectives. 

I am not sure if the series is about anything beyond a horrific examination of a particular case. If it is, for me, it is about how women have to fight to find some middle ground between two poles -- completely empathetic or completely hardened. The reality is that neither pole is individually healthy or professionally effective. (They need some of Collette's bluntness and directness to get things done.) 

I am also not sure how well the show lets us see the background of the victim who is not believed and the extent to which suspicion of her story would be conditioned by her background. This is particularly a tension in the foster-mom who first floats idea to the police that the story might be fabricated. Is the foster mom just evil? In over her head? Is this about the dangers of non-professionals making diagnoses about things they aren't really qualified to? Or is there something there? 

I'm not done yet, so I am curious if the series will advocate some sort of reforms or suggestions for how to keep such things from happening again. It is, of course, bitterly ironic that the obstinacy of insisting on a criminal citation for filing a false report (for a rape that actually happened) is what leads to a break in the case since the various jurisdictions aren't always steadfast in reporting unsolved rapes that they thought did happen, making it harder to recognize a pattern. 

 

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