The Feisty Indian Aunty Watches… Unbelievable

Dept. of Aunty Analysis


Hello everyone. It is I, Your Feisty Indian Aunty, who this week watched the limited series Unbelievable with great anger, frustration, disgust, and despair at what happens when women get sexually assaulted. This American series is a true story that chronicles the rapes that happened in two states – Washington State and Colorado – and spans some four years. Serial rapists, it turns out, are really hard to find. More so in a broken system.


The story begins and ends with a young teenager, Marie Adler (Kaitlyn Dever), who was raped but the cops (who were male) did not believe her. Unfortunately this is what happens when a girl is raped and the cops find out that she has a history of both being a ward of the state and a troublesome teen. The cops traumatize her so much that she is forced to lie, denying she was raped, and thereby alienating everyone around her, from her friends, to her colleagues, to her support group.

The story then picks up four years later in Colorado, where Detective Karen Duvall (Merritt Wever) looks into a rape case where the only identifier they have of the rapist is a birthmark on his left calf. She meets Detective Rasmussen (Toni Collette) who has a similar case, and both detectives work day and night seeking out clues, looking into other unsolved cases of rape, all in an effort to get to the bottom of what’s going on.


This series was so heart-wrenching that it left me pained and frustrated. That damn rapist was clever enough not to leave any physical evidence behind. He was so cunning that he didn’t get caught for an absolute age. What’s worse, the reason all of this came to pass was primarily due to police incompetence and society’s indifference.


Rape is a crime that no woman should have to endure. It scars you. It stays with long after your attacker is caught, and charged, and convicted. Rape also doesn’t occur with strangers alone. Date rape. Marital rape. Incest. Sexual perpetrators come in all forms – within families, among educators, and even in houses of worship. 

There was once a study done in India as to why girls in rural areas got married so young. The research showed that once girls in these villages reached puberty, they were immediately married off. You see, women went to work in the farms, leaving their children at home, where they would often be raped by relatives and those closest to them. In order to prevent this, desperate parents turned to marriage as a solution. Marriage, in these places, was the Indian way to stop rape within a community. 


I can’t imagine women (and men) who have experienced such trauma, who then have found the courage to move on, to get married, and live their lives. It is so profoundly brave. Especially in a society like ours, where the system seems so rigged against them. All most of us expect is fairness. All we expect is the absolute minimum of due diligence. All we want is to be treated like human beings. How is that too much to ask?


I watched Unbelievable with great anger, frustration, disgust, and despair, but also with a sense of a fulfillment. As the end rolls around, this series allows you to experience justice. You get to see a wrong righted. You get to see everyone who made mistakes atone for their sins and come to terms with their complicity – be it active or passive – in this broken system.

Unbelievable is a must watch for everyone. It isn’t just a look at how society is flawed (we don’t need a TV show to tell us that, we just need to look around us), but shows you what happens when good people come together to do the right thing.

You can read all The Feisty Indian Aunty’s previous columns here.

Unbelievable is available to stream on Netflix.

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