I can’t emphasize this enough. Sweet/Vicious is everything I needed right now, and then some. After last week’s hell week, I was feeling defeated, helpless, lost, and scared. There are a lot of things that seem out of my control right now, and that’s a terrifying feeling.
I just keep asking myself: What can I do?
Then comes along this show created by Jenn Kaytin Robinson just when I need it most. It’s brilliant. It’s funny. But more than that, Sweet/Vicious is a dose of kickass ladies, quick humor and taking down evil that was sorely needed in my life right now. (Think Kickass meets Jessica Jones, and multiple your love by 10.)
It gave me back some of my fire.
It’s also taking on campus sexual assault.
According to the National Sexual Violence Research Center, 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men will be raped at some point in their lives. 1 in 5 women and 1 in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college. More than 90 percent of sexual assault victims on college campuses do not report the crime.
63.3 percent of men at one university who self-reported acts qualifying as rape or attempted rape admitted to committing repeat rapes.
And yet, we’re still living in a world where Brock Turner will be protected and prioritized over his victim. We still live in a world where a man who proudly bragged about sexual assault, who calls dangerous speech such as “grab her by the pussy” as mere “locker room talk” is elected President of the United States.
Sexual assault is not a joke. It is not a punchline for pals, nor locker room talk, nor is it merely “boys being boys.” It is real, it is everywhere, and it is not being talked about nearly enough. TV shows now and again may have a storyline that may or may not handle the topic of sexual assault with the correct brevity, but with the exception of Law & Order: SVU, I’m hard pressed to think of a TV show that regularly deals with the topic of sexual assault, nevermind campus sexual assault.
But now, we have that, and we have heroes. We have humor mixed in with the heavy reality of sexual assault, and we have very real characters living very familiar college lives – but then give us that extra ass-kicking hope that right now, especially, we all need.
It’s feminist to its core, and I’m hooked.
Who run the world? Girls.
To begin with, forget what you think you know.
Sweet, All-American, princess looking, sorority sister Jules (Eliza Bennett) is shy by day. She comes off quiet, sweet, and maybe a little spacey. That, on top of looking like she’s straight out of a J. Crew catalog. She’s beautiful, blonde and seemingly put together. Hell, she can’t even manage to swear. She’s cookie cutter.
Until by night, she’s an ass-kicking, vigilante ninja who targets rapists on campus and, well, yeah – she’s everything but typical, everything but cookie cutter, and I’m in love.
Then, we have Ophelia (Taylor Dearden), who may be everything I aspire to be. Her green hair and punk rock meets H&M style, her record store job (while selling weed on the side), her player attitude and penchant for meeting any serious emotions and situations with ill-timed humor – she is my queen (and I’m very seriously considering dying my hair green, thank you).
Not to mention she has a 6-foot bong named LeBong James, is a genius hacker and apparently never attends class but has a perfect GPA – she’s living the actual dream.
The two meet by chance one night, when Ophelia is dodging campus security (which seems all too routine) and runs down an alley for her escape, only to find a masked vigilante attacking a frat boy rapist. Jules isn’t exactly receptive to Ophelia then, or any other time she runs into her once Ophelia makes it her mission to track Jules down and figure out what the hell is going on, but that sounds like the beginning of the best kinds of friendships, don’t you think?
The show is a combination of that MTV goodness of perfectly hipster and modern styles with a killer soundtrack and on point millennial humor, while also taking it up every notch – social commentary truth bombs coming in the form of a main storyline centered around campus sexual assault and taking control back, as well as comments from Ophelia’s best friend Harris (Brandon Mychal Smith) on the treatment of white boys over his fellow black friends, for instance.
And when Jules isn’t playing Batman, she’s your typical college student. Her sorority sisters are unnerved by how many meetings she’s missed, how off she seems, and after snooping, find out she’s on academic probation. She flirts as awkwardly and unsurely as most of us do, fumbling over words and blushing. Even after an eventful and close call night where she ends up with Ophelia, she snaps back into sorority sister mode when Ophelia pulls up to a local dive bar, saying she’d never be caught there.
Ophelia may be her polar opposite, all green hair, leather jacket, and zero care attitude. While Jules is on academic probation (presumably for being preoccupied, not for her intelligence, we know the girl is resourceful), Ophelia doesn’t go to class and maintains a perfect GPA. She’s bored. She’s cool but in an outcast way. She lives her life doing what (and who) she wants, when she wants, and just goes with it.
The supporting characters thus far are noteworthy, without a doubt. Harris, Ophelia’s law studying and law abiding friend who has sexual fantasies about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Jules’ sorority sisters who are focused on their friend but also how to throw a killer party – priorities, ladies. There’s Barton the campus cop who Ophelia seems more than well acquainted with; there’s Tyler, the charming boy who reduces badass Jules to heart eyed mush when she sees him.
It all comes together.
It’s smart. It’s quick. And it’s on a badass feminist level that the world desperately needs more of right now. It’s a show about girls taking back control, and fighting for others. They’re tired of a system that doesn’t help them; that never pulls in their favor. They’re tired of what has become standard, and they’re taking matters into their own hands.
And if Ophelia and Jules belting out Defying Gravity in the car together isn’t the most relatable scene in television history, then I’m the Pope. (Minus the murder.)
I’ll take a six season order to start, please.
Check out the premiere tonight at 10/9c on MTV.