Rape jokes aren’t funny, but that doesn't mean a show about rape can’t be funny — at least, MTV hopes that’s the case.
“Sweet/Vicious” is about how poorly one college handles rape on campus. When Eliza Bennett’s character Jules knows that no one will fight for justice after she is sexually assaulted, she becomes a vigilante and attacks rapists. However, life as a superhero isn’t exactly easy for Jules, even after the sorority sister forms a duo with loner Ophelia (Taylor Dearden). Bennett and executive producer Amanda Lasher discussed what to expect from the dramedy.
“The show is violent, but it’s not that we’re saying ‘Hey if this happens to you, you should go around and beat up rapists,’” Bennett told International Business Times at New York Comic Con last month. “It’s got a message that there’s consequences to these girls’ actions, and also that Jules is maybe channeling her anger and not actually helping herself with what she’s gone through.”
The show has to balance comedy with the very serious topics of rape and post-traumatic stress. Lasher, who has worked on “Gossip Girl” and “Togetherness,” says that it reflects life that way.
“We are dealing with such a serious issue and it’s such a personal issue for so many people,” Lasher acknowledged to IBT, “that we were really thoughtful about the places that we did have humor. But we also thought it was so important because everybody has that experience in life, where, in your darkest moments you can find humor in them. And that’s really important and we wanted to have that combination and we feel like it’s one of the things that make the show really special.”
While the blend of comedy and tragedy reflects real life, the actual storylines do not. Campus rape is a topic often in the headlines, but “Sweet/Vicious” isn’t “Law & Order: SVU.” Don’t expect the show to cover any of the cases that make the nightly news.
“We really did our homework and also worked very closely with different organizations,” Lasher explained. “Unfortunately, the sad story is that these stories are everywhere, and everybody that you talk to, their lives were so personally touched by it, but this is not a ‘ripped from the headlines’ at all. It’s very fictionalized.”
It sounds like the new MTV show, which debuts after “Teen Wolf” Season 6 premieres, is also very much about two unlikely friends who are trying to find themselves. “[Jules is] struggling to find a place that she belongs, just in a different way to Ophelia. I think we’re both kind of lost in a way,” Bennett said.
Jules is going to have to come to terms with her past if she really wants to find herself, though. Moonlighting as a vigilante is entertaining, but it isn’t exactly a healthy coping mechanism.
“I think Jules hits a point where she needs to address what’s happened to her and not hide behind the mask,” Bennett teased. “So there’s definitely a point where Jules has to deal with that and it’s sometimes not pretty. But it’s a beautiful arc.”
“Sweet/Vicious” Season 1 premieres Tuesday at 10 p.m. EST on MTV.