Why I Love This Show: ‘I May Destroy You’

Telling the story you want to tell in I May Destroy You.

i may destroy you
Natalie Seery/HBO

I May Destroy You is a series set in London about a young woman trying to make her way in the wake of a sexual assault that could have destroyed her, and didn’t. It’s an exploration of what comes next. How do I move forward? Can I move forward? Will I remain in the past? It’s about the #MeToo movement and rape culture, but it’s also about so much more than that. It’s about surviving life, being a friend, dating, dealing with your parents, being a first-generation immigrant. It’s about so many things, and it manages to be hilarious and moving and terrifying.

This article appears in the Winter 2022 issue of Alta Journal.

It’s Michaela Coel’s personal story. I was aware of who Coel was, I was aware of her story, long before the show came out, so I was sort of tracking her. She’s just so interesting to me and so brave. The moment I heard she was turning that experience into a television show, I knew that the moment it came out, I would be watching.

In real life, she’s a television writer too, so that was cool. We don’t see ourselves a lot, so when we do, especially a Black female writer, it feels good. It felt really authentic and real. Like the cards on the wall. My office is completely covered in cards most of the time. And the procrastination and how, when you’re stuck and you know you should be sitting down and writing, you want to do just about anything else. Seeing her do everything but write was triggering, but so relatable. I’m sure I was supposed to be writing something, or was in the middle of writing something, whenever an episode came out.

When you watch something like that, it reminds you that you should just tell the story you want to tell. You don’t have to fit it in a box; you don’t have to tell your stories in a linear fashion all the time. You can take risks; you don’t have to overexplain; you don’t have to take the easy route. You can tell a deeply personal story that could have easily been very bleak and make it entertaining and funny and deep.•

—As told to Robert Ito

I May Destroy You streams on HBO Max.

Marissa Jo Cerar was a producer on The Handmaid’s Tale and 13 Reasons Why, is the showrunner on the ABC limited series Women of the Movement, and is writing and producing the Hulu series Black Cake.
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