Every man should watch Michaela Coel's HBO series, says Brooke Obie. "While anyone of any gender and age can be a victim of rape, and all genders can be rapists, the majority of rapists are men," she says. "Because our patriarchal society values the lives and well-being of men over the lives and well-being of women, girls, and non-binary individuals, men have more power to end rape. I May Destroy You is an excellent tool to help men understand what constitutes rape and the culture that perpetuates it, in order to reach that goal. There are no 'good' or 'evil' people in I May Destroy You, in the same way that real life holds space for people who rape and abuse to have family, friends, colleagues—and even victims—who love and respect them. There is no 'kind' of person who is capable of rape, assault, or coercing consent. Even victims can go on to victimize others. That’s the uncomfortable truth that I May Destroy You magnifies. If you can accept that truth—that men who see themselves as 'good,' 'well-intentioned,' 'nice' people can violate consent and do serious physical and emotional damage to others—then you might be ready for the hard lessons that I May Destroy You serves up."
I May Destroy You is perfect TV for an anxious world and perhaps the most emblematic show of 2020: "To be a person in this world is to be subjected to all sorts of unwanted desires, expectations, rules and systems of coercion," says Carina Chocano. "Our bodies — more so for some of us than for others — are not entirely our own, a reality the overlapping horrors of 2020 have laid especially bare. Strip the veil of familiarity off the world, as Percy Bysshe Shelley once put it, and you expose a dark map of corruption, abuse, predation and precarity underneath the veneer of civility. The threats Americans feel right now, both real and perceived, act on us like trauma: As a nation, as a social body, we’re activated, hypervigilant, anxious, triggered. We’re exhibiting all the symptoms of complex PTSD. In that sense, I May Destroy You is perfectly suited to the moment; it is possibly the most emblematic show of 2020. It examines how, by avoiding the truth, we pass fear and suffering on to others. It reminds us that everyone is vulnerable, that nobody is entirely above avoidance or self-delusion. It makes the case for facing even those truths that, when confronted, might reveal an altogether different reality from the one we thought we inhabited."
Coel didn't realize Arabella was an actual name: Coel explained that she came up with Arabella by mixing up a Ghanaian name and a European one – an element that was explored in a “very old version” of I May Destroy You‘s first episode.