By Benji Wilson for Emmy Magazine, 9.2020
In 2016, while she was writing the second series of her breakthrough TV comedy Chewing Gum, Michaela Coel was sexually assaulted by strangers who’d spiked her drink.
“I finally ended up at the police station waiting to give my witness statement for the first time,” says Coel, a British actor, writer and director of rare gifts. “My friend was with me, taking care of me. We were waiting for the detectives to come in and as we waited, I looked to my friend... and he was playing Pokémon Go on his phone.”
Coel throws her head back and laughs long and hard.
“My world was coming apart beneath my feet and he’s playing Pokémon Go. There’s not a word for that feeling - it’s a hybrid.”
Hybrid feelings – comedy cleaved with crisis, rare humanity alongside startling selfishness – are at the core of I May Destroy You, the dazzling HBO series that came from Coel’s attempts to process her experience. For many people lockdown has been a hybrid of heightened emotions and hallucinatory lulls – I May Destroy You felt and feels achingly, tragically on point.
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