TV Review: I May Destroy You, Episodes 1 & 2

The superlative Michaela Coel looks to have absolutely nailed with new TV show I May Destroy You

“How did last night end?”

I mean we knew I May Destroy You would be good but damn, it’s really good. Even on the evidence of episodes 1 & 2 which have just been released by the BBC, Michaela Coel – whose credits here include executive producer, co-director, star, and writer – looks set to thoroughly invigorate our TV screens as she breathlessly tackles, well, pretty much the whole of contemporary society.

At the top of it, I May Destroy You is a drama about consent, though it is immediately clear that Coel’s canvas and the scope of her ambition is much larger than that. It blends just as much comedy as tragedy into its playfully inventive structure. And though the hook is Coel’s Arabella – a 30-something London-based writer – trying to piece together the memories of a night where her drink was spiked and she was sexually assaulted, there’s so much more about the lives of young Black British people filled out along the way.

And as ever in this brave new digital world, there’s a release ‘strategy’ which may raise an eyebrow. There’s going to be a weekly drop of two episodes which come in at a half-hour each, so who knows how we will choose to consume – it’s clear the Beeb are hoping for weekly watercooler moments, such as they still exist in a Covid world. With Coel’s extraordinary depth and quality of writing and an ensemble cast including Paapa Essiedu, Lara Rossi and an excellent Weruche Opia, you can well imagine them coming.    

Photos: Natalie Seery/BBC/Various Artists Ltd and FALKNA


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