I May Destroy You: everybody is talking about Michaela Coel’s new series

Posted by for Life

The first two episodes of BBC drama I May Destroy You are finally here. Here’s everything we know about Michaela Coel’s new series. (Warning: there are no spoilers ahead but this piece discusses sexual assault and trauma.)

Earlier this year, it was announced that Michaela Coel would be writing, directing and starring in a new BBC drama series. We’ve been impatiently waiting for the Bafta-winning actor’s creation to hit our screens ever since. After all, she is the woman behind hit E4 show Chewing Gum

The wait is finally over, as the first two episodes of I May Destroy You were aired last night (Monday 8 June) and are available to watch on iPlayer.

The fearless, frank and provocative drama series explores the question of sexual consent in contemporary life and how, in our modern landscape of dating and relationships, we make the distinction between liberation and exploitation.

What happens in I May Destroy You?

Following triumph from a piece of writing that garnered internet acclaim, Arabella Essiuedu (Coel) – easily distracted, non-committal and carefree – finds herself feted as the ‘voice of her generation,’ with an agent, a book commission and a helluva lot of pressure. 

But after being sexually assaulted in a nightclub, her life changes irreversibly and Arabella is forced to reassess everything: her career, her friends, even her family. As she struggles to come to terms with what has happened, she begins a journey of self-discovery.

The plot is inspired by Coel’s own real experience of sexual assault. In 2018, she called for the media industry to do more to protect young writers, after sharing the story of how she faced pressure to deliver scripts after being sexually assaulted by strangers.

Watch the trailer for I May Destroy You

The trailer doesn’t give much more away. We see Arabella getting ready for a night out, then it cuts to the next morning – but what exactly happening during the interim? The gash on her forehead suggests something bad happened, but will she be able to put the pieces together and remember what went wrong?

Episodes one and two answer parts of these questions, but there is so much more to unravel. 

Who stars in I May Destroy You?

Coel is joined by Weruche Opia (Inside No9, Sliced), Paapa Essiedu (Kiri, Press), Aml Ameen (Yardie, Mazerunner), Adam James (Belgravia, Doctor Foster), Sarah Niles (Catastrophe, Rocks) and Ann Akin (Career of Evil, Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams: The Commuter).

When is I May Destroy You on TV?

I May Destroy You started on Monday 8 June on BBC One at 10:45pm. The second episode will air on Tuesday 9 June at 10.45pm, or you can stream them both on BBC iPlayer now. Episodes will continue to air on Mondays and Tuesdays for the remainder of the series, and will be available on iPlayer.

Want to be the first to hear about our exclusive reader competitions, offers and discounts? Sign up for the Competitions + Offers email

What are the fan reactions to I May Destroy You?

It’s a hit. Fans and critics alike have given the series a thumbs up for tackling the issue of consent in such a compelling way, while remaining entertaining and unique in its style. Coel is also being praised for her incredible performance as Arabella. 

Referring to a significant moment in episode two, one fan wrote: “THAT scene in ep 2 punched me right in the gut, I need more episodes to devour #IMayDestroyYou.”

Another fan wrote: “So Michaela Coel’s I May Destroy You’is the most accurate depiction of trying to deal with the aftermath of [sexual assault] I’ve ever seen. Fucking hell. Thank you @MichaelaCoel.”

And a viewer tweeted:Watched 2 eps of I May Destroy You and so far, it’s smart and wild and moving and original. I can’t even think of an easy comparison, because [though] it’s theoretically a cable-indie “traumedy,” it doesn’t feel like any of the recent ones. Coel is top-notch.”

You can catch up on I May Destroy You on BBC iPlayer now.

Images: BBC

Share this article

Hollie Richardson

Hollie is a digital writer at Stylist.co.uk, mainly covering the daily news on women’s issues, politics, celebrities and entertainment. She also keeps an ear out for the best podcast episodes to share with readers. Oh, and don’t even get her started on Outlander…