Sweet/Vicious toes the line when it comes to violence on the show, but the creators know this isn’t the way to combat sexual assault in the real world.
MTV’s newest hit show started off with a bang — or, rather, with a murder. That, combined with the opening scene where Jules stabs a rapist in the leg, set the tone for what this show would be like. Being strong and taking care of yourself doesn’t always mean you need to get physical, but the show’s comic book influences inspired Jules and Ophelia’s skill sets.
As we’ve crept closer to the season finale, the gravity of what the girls have been doing has started to weigh on their shoulders. They are dishing out justice to be sure, but they’re also putting people in the hospital. A show like Sweet/Vicious allows you to suspend your disbelief long enough to accept that, in this world, our heroes can get away with murder and we won’t feel too badly about it.
That being said, episode 8, “Back to Black,” did show Jules taking it a step too far. Concerning Carter’s death, Ophelia was protecting Jules from someone she clearly heard saying would kill her. In episode 8, however, Jules attacked a boy who had already been beaten and was defenseless. She didn’t stop until he was practically unconscious.
I like that Sweet/Vicious isn’t afraid to point out its own potential flaws. The show aims to educate as much as it aims to entertain, but it also doesn’t want to send the wrong message. Jules both doesn’t trust the authorities to help her and is afraid her father, a cop, will find out what happened to her. However, in the real world, it’s important for legitimate sexual assault cases to be reported right away in order to combat this growing epidemic.
In other words, just because Sweet/Vicious has its characters dress up in black clothes and go around beating up rapists, it doesn’t mean anyone involved in the series believes this is a solution that will work in our world.
In fact, Creator Jennifer Kaytin Robinson has been vocal in pointing out that she doesn’t believe Jules and Ophelia’s solution could work in a world other than the heightened one we see on the show.
“Although Sweet/Vicious is a world where there are people taking action and kicking literal ass, and kicking people’s butts and stabbing people in the leg, that is not how you enact change in real life,” she says in the video above. “We do not think violence solves violence on this show. This show is heightened. This show is Gotham. This show is a blown out world that we do not actually live in. And as satisfying as it may be to see that, I do think that is not how we solve things in the real world.”
Continuing, she adds, “But what you can do, and how you can be a Jules and Ophelia in your own community, is to enact change any way you can.” Robinson goes on to recommend an organization which can help you enact change, and the Sweet/Vicious social media sites have been consistently speaking out about ways you can help victims of sexual assault.
In another interview, Robinson says:
I would say that this is a heightened environment. It is a genre show with superheroes, and it is larger than life. I’m very local that violence does not solve violence. Don’t go out and beat anyone up because it’s not going to go well. But the idea behind the show and the core of it, which is fighting injustice, please do that. Get out there. Even now, with what’s happening in the White House, get on the phone and call a Congressman, every time. That is being a real world Jules and Ophelia. That is speaking up. That is using our voice. Although I don’t think anyone should go out there and kill someone with a wrench, I do think there’s an opportunity where, if you’re feeling empowered, you can get out there and find a cause and fight for it.
So, yes. Sweet/Vicious is a violent show. Our heroes have physically assaulted those who have sexually assaulted others. They have killed a person and buried the evidence. But none of this takes away from the true message of the show, that consent is not only important, it is a mandatory requirement when engaging in sexual behaviors with another person. And not only will there be consequences, but there must be consequences when someone violates the rights and trust of another person.
My hope is that Sweet/Vicious is just one more step in the right direction when it comes to teaching men and women about consent, strength, bravery, friendship, and responsibility. This show is opening up a dialogue that I hope we can maintain and engage in until sexual assault becomes something that you don’t get away with, but that you must face the consequences for.