I went to Netflix to knock one of the many movies off my watch list… But the show I ended up discovering was so much more rewarding than anything I had contemplated.
Unbelievable will especially appeal to fans of the Investigation Discovery (ID) channel or shows like The First 48. The show is based on true events but has a unique concept featuring two independent running plotlines. One deals with young sexual assault victim Marie Adler, played by Kaitlyn Dever (Booksmart, Justified), and the fallout from her traumatic experience. The other follows two detectives hunting down a serial rapist in Colorado.
The first episode belongs solely to Marie and starts with her attack– and the process that victims of sexual assault must endure once the crime is reported. Marie has the additional challenge of being a child raised in the foster system. As difficult as it is to watch flashbacks of her horrible attack, it’s almost as bad to watch this delicate young woman poked, prodded, and interrogated multiple times by police. I wouldn’t say the show paints the investigators as unsympathetic, but it does shine a light on the imperfect process of putting a victim through so much additional stress that she makes an unfortunate decision.
The second episode introduces Detective Karen Duvall, played by Merritt Weaver (The Walking Dead, Nurse Jackie), a mother of two young girls over-committed to her job for fear of letting the victims down. She’s a perfectionist, empathetic, and determined to do anything to bring this attacker to justice. Detective Grace Rasmussen, played by Toni Collette (Hereditary, Knives Out) is more of a hard-nosed veteran. By virtue of experience, she is not easily impressed but when Detective Duvall tracks her down and points out the similarities in their cases she is curious enough to see where the road leads. Weaver and Collette are the best pair of on-screen detectives since Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson’s Cohle and Hart from the first season of HBO’s True Detective.
Unbelievable is an easily binge-able 8 episodes. Both investigators meticulously track the predator while Marie continues to try to overcome her assault– two freight train plot lines headed towards an inevitable collision with one another. Add to that a cast that delivers powerhouse performances right down to the supporting players, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all to find Unbelievable among next year’s Emmy nominees. To describe it as compelling would be an understatement.
Unbelievable is a hard watch by nature of its subject matter– but in the end, it’s well worth your time. The self-contained season leaves you with a cliffhanger-free resolution to a story that needed to be told.
For additional information on the true events that inspired Unbelievable, I highly recommend checking out the show’s Facebook @UnbelievableNetflix.