Wednesday, February 1, 2017

5 Reasons You Should Binge-Watch Sweet/Vicious ASAP


I trust recommendations from friends when it comes to television shows I should binge-watch. It was Anne who told me to give Jane the Virgin and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend a chance. It was Jaime who pressed me to start watching Community and Sherlock. And my Twitter timeline got me into Arrow. So when some of our writers attended the Sweet/Vicious panel at Comic-Con this year and talked, in the months that followed, non-stop about the show, I grew curious. Admittedly, I didn't know much about the show — it aired on MTV, had two female lead characters, and dealt with them becoming vigilantes. Not much to go on, really. It's a testament to their influence that I started watching (I generally don't watch anything on MTV... at all), but it's a testament to the incredible writing and acting of the show that I stuck around.

When I was home sick last week, I finished my binge-watch of Sweet/Vicious' first season. And man, it was an incredible ride from start to finish. At only 10 episodes, the series is a quick watch and will have you begging for more. (As of right now, the show has not been renewed for a second season.) It is witty, dark, the epitome of #LadiesSupportingLadies, and such an important piece of art that illuminates the current state of campus assault.

In case you're curious about the show and why you should watch it, here are five reasons to do just that!

Note: minor spoilers included throughout.




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5. The show is genuinely funny.

I was expecting Sweet/Vicious to be dark, but I definitely wasn't expecting it to be hilarious. But it really is! Ophelia (Taylor Dearden) is snarky, sarcastic, and has some incredible moments of hilarity. Dearden's comedic timing is perfect. Her facial nuances are as good as you can get, and her physical comedy is also so on-point. Though Dearden could have a one-woman show that I would watch the crap out of, the real comedy of Sweet/Vicious stems from the interactions between the cast members. Ophelia and Jules (Eliza Bennett) are a seemingly mismatched duo — Julia seems to be all sunshine and rainbows, while Ophelia is dark and more pessimistic. Bennett's comedy is more subtle, brighter, and her wide-eyed facial expressions and nervous ramblings not only make her hilarious, but also endearing. And then there's Harris (Brandon Mychal Smith), who essentially is the "straight man" of the series, providing subtle commentary on all of the absurdities happening around him with ease.

The dialogue in Sweet/Vicious is witty and smart, and plays to the strengths of each of the cast members extremely well. Sometimes the comedy is subtle — used to inject levity into really heavy moments or scenes — and sometimes it's overt and slapstick-y, which I also appreciate.

To cap off the perfect comedy of the show, the pilot episode features Jules and Ophelia belting "Defying Gravity" in a car. And we all know that any television show in which a character belts that while driving is a winner in my book.


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4. It's about the kind of vigilantes you never knew you needed.

I'm a fan of Arrow. I like The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow. I think vigilantes are really cool and I enjoy watching them kick and flip and defeat the bad guys. But Sweet/Vicious is a different kind of vigilante show — one we've been lacking on television for a very long time. Jules is the primary vigilante when the show begins, dressing like a ninja and throwing knives in order to take down rapists on campus. She's incredibly agile and strong, and the fact that she's a woman who is kicking butt is just so important to me. But when Ophelia joins the cause, she uses her skills as a hacker/computer genius in order to help Jules defend the defenseless on campus. That's what really sets this show apart from every other vigilante show I watch — these two have a specific cause that they fight against, and are young women whom the world would never suspect. (As Ophelia so rightly points out in an episode, people suspect vigilantes to be large men.)

Once Ophelia is trained by Jules, she too joins the physical side of vigilantism, and it's really cool to watch them grow and learn from each other as a team. Jules and Ophelia are, apart from their super ninja skills, relatively normal people who are using what they're good at in order to protect the women who need them most. While part of this vigilantism stems from Jules' crusade over what happened to her, a lot of it is a result of these women just wanting to be good and do good. They're normal college students and it's really refreshing for a show on television to tell women that they're spectacular and can be heroes just the way they are. The world needs more Jules and Ophelias, honestly. We would all be better because of it.


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3. Jules and Ophelia's friendship is incredible and powerful (#LadiesSupportingLadies).

As I briefly noted above, Jules and Ophelia are total opposites. And yet, their relationship works incredibly well and is the cornerstone that Sweet/Vicious is set upon. Jules is this bright, bubbly sorority girl on the surface. But underneath, there's a darkness and a pain to her story that she can't share with anyone. Conversely, Ophelia is — externally — a seemingly dark character. She comes from a wealthy family but prefers to sell weed on campus and slack off in her classes. She has no declared major and doesn't let anyone get too close. But just like Jules, Ophelia isn't just what is on the surface: while people might think her to be dark, she's really a kind, warm, generous person who just needs to find her purpose.

Jules and Ophelia find each other and they find their purpose in each other, too.

Jules grounds Ophelia, teaching her and leading her in a lot of ways. And Ophelia encourages Jules and challenges her — pushing her to do things she normally wouldn't do. There's an episode toward the end of the season where the two have a huge fight — the kind that only women have — where they wound one another with hurtful, venomous words. We know they'll make up, but the aftermath of the fight reminds us that these two need one another in order to become better. Jules wanted to have a one-woman crusade, but Ophelia taught her the joy of friendship and camaraderie... and how especially essential it is whenever you're battling darkness. These two women are a wonderful example of the power of female friendship. Though they don't always agree, they always have each other's backs. And that's what #LadiesSupportingLadies is truly all about.

   
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2. It gets twisty and turny at every corner.

Just when you think you have the show and its plot twists figured out... surprise! Another curveball gets thrown your way! And if you're, like me, the kind of person who enjoys end-of-pilot shockers, then Sweet/Vicious is for you! With only 10 episodes, there is no time to waste. There are no filler episodes in this show — everything is intentional and purposeful, with each episode building on the previous. You slowly begin to piece together the night that Jules was raped, you learn about the complexities Jules and Ophelia get themselves into with their vigilantism, and watch all of the characters grow. If you're a fan of the kind of twists and turns that I am, you really need to be watching this show. It's incredibly addicting and so easy to binge-watch over the course of a weekend. And when you finish, it'll have you wanting more episodes! #RenewSweetVicious

   

   
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1. The subject matter is relevant and handled with the utmost care.

When I started watching Sweet/Vicious, I knew it was a show about a teenage vigilante who hunted down rapists on her college campus. The show, honestly, does an incredible job tackling this very complex subject matter. When Jules, in flashbacks, approaches the school counselor about her rape, the woman echoes the same sentiments that many people do when it comes to rape on college campuses. A lot of the rhetoric in this show is painful, but it's painful because it's reflective of our society. Women in this show get blamed for their rape, told to brush it off, or are encouraged to not pursue the charges because of the elite statuses of their rapists. We meet a lot of different female characters in the show who are victims of assault, and it's really wonderful that the show manages to handle the entire subject tactfully. There are no gratuitous scenes just for the sake of being edgy or dark. And when sensitive subject matter is shown, there are always viewer discretion warnings for those being triggered.

Moreover, what's so uplifting about this show is that Jules and Ophelia don't just sit around and hope that their campus will change — they become agents of change, and defenders of the most vulnerable. Jules, of course, has been a victim of sexual assault and channels all of her rage and her frustration and fear into her crusade. But that doesn't mean she isn't broken. I think that if there is one thing Sweet/Vicious does clearly, it's demonstrate the fact that people need other people to heal. Jules tried her one-woman crusade for a while before she let anyone else into it. And once she did, she was able to slowly heal, telling more and more people her story. By the season finale, Jules has used her story to help others and help herself tackle all of her emotions. Because you see how Jules' rape affects every area of her life — socially, academically, romantically — and it's only once she's able to stop masking the pain and start consciously letting other people lift her up and listen to her story that she heals. Her journey is the core of this show, and to watch her battle her demons is equal parts painful and uplifting. Hopefully this show will play a small part in other people facing their own darkness.

Unfortunately, assault on college campuses is all too common, but I am thankful that a show like Sweet/Vicious is unafraid to tackle something so complex and difficult with tact, rawness, and honesty. It's one of the few shows on television that is able to do so.

Have you watched Sweet/Vicious yet? If not, locate it on a cable network or MTV.com and watch it this weekend. I promise you won't be disappointed.

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