Let’s take a break from the impeachment discussion for a short review of Unbelievable, which is the dramatization of the story of serial rapist who raped women in Washington state and Colorado between 2008-2011. It was first reported in depth by Pro Publica, and it is, sadly, all too believable. It centers around a young woman raped in Lynwood, WA in 2008, who was later prosecuted for filing a false report. At that time, 21.3% of the rapes reported the Lynwood PD were considered unfounded, far above the national average of 4.3%. The rapes were later solved by a task force of suburban Denver police departments.

There’s plenty of drama and pathos in this story, which means that there are plenty of opportunities for writers, actors and the director to go over the top. Unbelievable does the opposite: it is deliberately paced. The performances are measured and subtle where they need to be (especially the work of Kaitlyn Dever, who plays the first victim). Tony Colette and Merritt Weaver are excellent as the Denver-area detectives.

It is very hard to watch, sad and maddening, and I think worth the trouble.

35 replies
  1. 1
    Betty Cracker says:

    Haven’t seen it yet, but it’s on my Netflix list. I’ve been a Toni Colette fan since I first saw her in the hilarious film “Muriel’s Wedding.”

  2. 2
    Jager says:

    Its everything you said. We took a break in the middle and walked Anze the Dog in silence.

  3. 3
    Erin in Flagstaff says:

    I’m thinking of watching it, but dang, I don’t know if I can handle it. Having the female detectives take the lead in investigating the rapes, increases my interest over my misery at watching it, so it might be my next watch.

  4. 4

    OT: There is no depth to which the NYT won’t stoop when it comes to appeasing strong men. Regular NYT columnist Roger Cohen has written a fawning op-ed piece about Modi, that just takes the BJP talking points and reports them as facts.

  5. 5
    Betty Cracker says:

    @schrodingers_cat: I read a non-NYT account (in The Post, I think), and from the quotes from Modi in that article, it sounded as much like a Trump rally as a “Howdy Modi” event. I wonder if the elected Democrats who attended second-guessed that decision while all the mutual butt-kissing was taking place onstage?

  6. 6
    MattF says:

    I bought a copy of ‘She Said’, after reading Susan Faludi’s NYT review. Not exactly looking forward to reading it, but probably necessary reading.

  7. 7
    rikyrah says:


    As Kay points out, the political reporting for American politics sucks at the NYT. Expecting them to put any sort of context in a Modi rally is a bit much to ask. Even if Cohen is a columnist. I’m not surprised at all.

  8. 8
    Mnemosyne says:

    I read the article it was based on, and it was infuriating. Basically, people decided that the victim wasn’t as upset about being raped as they wanted her to be, even though she’d had an incredibly rough childhood that included physical abuse and being raped/molested by family members. Basically, she just added “raped by a stranger” to her list of Bad Shit That Happened To Me and moved on since it wasn’t even the worst thing that had happened to her up to that point in her life. Her former foster mother could. not. accept that it was normal for her to do that, so she went to the police and said she thought it was a false report. And it snowballed from there.

  9. 9
    rikyrah says:

    Robert F. Smith Gets the Final Bill for His Gift to Morehouse—and the Number Is Stunning
    Michael Harriot
    Friday 5:00pm

    When philanthropist and entrepreneur Robert F. Smith offered to pay the entire balance of the outstanding student loans for Morehouse’s most recent graduating class, not only did the gift eliminate a burden from the backs of hundreds of students but it also sparked a much-needed conversation about student debt and its disproportionate impact on black college students.

    During a Friday press conference, Morehouse College announced the final tally for Smith’s generous donation:

    $34 million dollars.

    More than 400 students, parents, and guardians of the Class of 2019 will benefit from Smith’s act of kindness. While Smith’s largesse is embarrassing to me because I refused to donate the change from a recent trip to the grocery store to the Sick Children With Sad Kittens Adoption Fund (to be fair, I couldn’t tell if the money went to the kids or the kittens) his donation will also change the future for hundreds of HBCU graduates.


    “This liberation gift from Robert Smith—the first of its kind to be announced at a graduation in higher education—will be life-changing for our new Morehouse Men and their families,” Thomas said in a statement. “It is our hope that our graduates will use their newfound financial freedom to pursue their career goals, to lead and serve the community, and to remember the spirit of the gift given to them by paying it forward to support the education of future classes of Morehouse Men.”

  10. 10
    UncleEbeneezer says:

    This series should be mandatory viewing for every person (especially dudes) who ever have the gall to ask “well why didn’t she report it?” about rape/assault victims. The show demonstrates brilliantly and unflinchingly the way that our justice system and society in general make life miserable for victims. It even explores the subtle ways that their own family members and supposed allies can turn against them or inadvertently make things worse for them despite having good intentions. It is possibly the best presentation/exploration of Rape Culture I have ever seen on screen/film. It shows just how Systemic this shit is. And so far (we are on episode 5) every performance has been superb. Merritt Wever is quickly becoming one of my favorite actors. Obviously, the heaviest of Trigger Warnings for this series (it’s VERY hard to watch at times) but if you can, you should watch it. It’s an important series.

    Also, the scenes where Marie is riding her bike down the street lined with deodara trees, that’s right down the street from our house!!

  11. 11
    Mnemosyne says:


    Okay, I have a silly question about something in that announcement that’s probably just a figure of speech — are the female graduates of Morehouse also considered to be Morehouse Men? I know that being a Morehouse Man is a big deal and a point of pride, which is why the announcement was worded that way, but it still seems odd to me. 🤔

  12. 12
    rikyrah says:


    Morehouse is the all-male school.
    Spelman is the all-female school across the street.
    They are two separate entities.

    Morehouse Man is indeed a phrase.
    As is Spelman Woman.

  13. 13
    eric says:

    @Betty Cracker: for those that have seen justified, it is no surprise that Dever is awesome. The moments she shared on screen with Margo Martindale were exquisite. As an aside, I found Martindale’s acting breathtaking overall.

  14. 14

    @Betty Cracker: Here is hoping that T’s reverse Midas touch works for Modi! I saw the picture of the two holding hands, gross.

  15. 15
    Ruviana says:

    @MattF: An excellent book. They also cover some of the Kavanaugh hearings.
    ETA and my nym stuck! How crazy is that?

  16. 16
    ruemara says:

    @UncleEbeneezer: This. It is very triggering.

    I couldn’t really make it past the first episode. I’m going to try to push through again because most of screenwriting twitter is talking about it, but I really couldn’t deal with the first ep for long.

  17. 17
    UncleEbeneezer says:

    @ruemara: The first episode is by far, the toughest. There’s definitely some rough stuff ahead, but nothing as difficult as that first episode, at least in our experience (my wife concurs.)

  18. 18
  19. 19
    wenchacha says:

    Merritt Weaver had some great turns on Law & Order, and it is great to see her get more work. I didn’t know she is in Justified, so now I have more reason to get back to that series, thanks!

  20. 20
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    Speaking of that, I was just watching a video of phscologist talking about Ted Bundy and it was very clear the reason Bundy got this reputation for being this evil shape shifting genius was all these hick PDs were filled with conservatards who wanted the killer to be some dirty stoned hippie and didn’t take Bundy seriously interested when it turned out he was some clean cut, middle class white guy from a good family. The doctor was really disgusted that Bundy killed three more women after escaping twice from jail.

  21. 21
    EmbraceYourInnerCrone says:

    @UncleEbeneezer – all I will comment on this post is that, as far as Rape Culture goes in the military in my opinion you are safer keeping your mouth shut if anything happens to you. I didn’t (it was an attempt, not a rape) and let’s just say I regret that decision. This was decades ago so maybe things have changed …

  22. 22
    trollhattan says:

    @Enhanced Voting Techniques:
    Which is weird, because living in Seattle when “Ted” was committing his first murders, he was described in the news as a clean-cut guy with a VW and an arm in a cast, asking girls for assistance around the time they disappeared. I don’t recall the media ever using a DFH description.

    Been awhile and he eventually moved on to other venues.

  23. 23
    Renie says:

    The show is so good I watched the whole thing this weekend. I was leery of watching due to the subject matter but glad I did watch.

  24. 24
    VeniceRiley says:

    I couldn’t get through the first 20 minutes. I couldn’t watch the rape. I’ve also heard it’s great, and has some of my favorite actors in it. I even promised the manager of my go-to lunch spot I’d watch. Just … maybe later. I’m afraid it will stay with me.

  25. 25
    UncleEbeneezer says:

    @wenchacha: Check out Godless. She absolutely stole the show, Imo, in that series.

  26. 26
    Brachiator says:

    I think that Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan is scheduled to meet with Trump today and will speak at the UN later. Modi’s appearance with Trump may help blunt international criticism over what is happening in Kashmir.

  27. 27
    Jean says:

    @ruemara: I couldn’t make it to the end of the first episode! And I had no trouble believing how terribly rape victims were/are treated. The foster mom was creepy.

  28. 28
    Montanareddog says:

    @wenchacha: not Merritt Wever. Kaitlyn Dever was in Justified (Loretta McCready). Dale Dickey and Nick Searcy, also Justified alumni, appear too

  29. 29
    Montanareddog says:

    Lol! In moderation, I guess because my post mentions an actress called Dale and the first 4 letters of her surname are slang for a male appendage

  30. 30
  31. 31
    DigitalAmish says:

    I started to watch something called “The I – land” on Netflix and couldn’t stand more than 15 minutes of it so looked for something else. Settled on ‘Unbelievable’. Binged it in two sessions. Even if you have reservations because of the subject matter the performances, writing, and direction are unbelievable. The three headliners all deserve Emmys. Dever’s performance is heartbreaking.

  32. 32
    J R in WV says:


    There is no depth to which the NYT won’t stoop when it comes to appeasing strong men. Regular NYT columnist Roger Cohen has written a fawning op-ed piece about Modi, that just takes the BJP talking points and reports them as facts.

    This is totally correct. The New York Times has supported fascist authoritarian leaders since at least the 1920s, when they reported on a new German politician, Mr. Adolph Hitler, who showed every sign of being a great future leader for Germany. They continued to cover Mr. Hitler positively until war was declared between the US and Germany not long after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

    They also supported Uncle Joe Stalin for his entire period as leader of the USSR. They denied that there was a famine in Georgia and Ukraine, let alone the possibility that the famine was caused by Stalin’s order to ship all the food out of the region after the harvest. We will never know how many people starved as a result of this slick maneuver.

    I don’t know for sure, but if I were a betting person (I’m not) I would bet that the NY Times supported all of the British Raj’s manipulations of the food supply in India and the British government’s movement of tons of foodstuff out of Ireland during the famine in that poor island state after the potato crop failed.

    Nothing liberal about the NYTimes, ever, except in the lifestyle sections. There, nothing is too wild. But politically, only the most authoritarian leadership will do.

  33. 33
    RedDirtGirl says:

    @wenchacha: She was also great in the Western series that also starred Lady Mary from Downton Abbey, about a mining town that lost most of it’s men in a mining accident. I needed more of MW in my life and am now binging on Nurse Jackie.
    ETA: Kaitlyn Deaver was in Justified. Merritt Wever was in the Western.

  34. 34
    Mnemosyne says:


    Ah, okay — glad I asked! I was a little confused. 🤪

  35. 35
    hitchhiker says:

    I’d read the ProPublica article and heard the story on This American Life a while back, so I knew what was coming. Got far enough into that first episode to realize that I wasn’t going to be able to take it, so I did a thing I sometimes do & went backwards. Started with the last episode payoff and worked backwards, slowly, and even then it was really hard.

    “Marie” is the same age as hitchhikerdaughter #2. This story happens in the same ‘burb where hitchhikerdaughter #1 currently lives. I find the performance of the young actress almost unbearable … and was astonished to read that she forgave both of the foster moms involved in this catastrophe.

    If I were one of the subsequent rape victims, I’d want to have words with them both.

    This idea that we can somehow accurately read behavior — especially post-trauma — is insane and needs to be abandoned. I couldn’t help thinking of how it was decided that Amanda Knox must have murdered her housemate b/c she didn’t act the way people around her thought she should. Different kind of trauma, same dynamic.

Comments are closed.