With MTV’s cancellation of two female-led shows, Mary and Jane and Loosely Exactly Nicole, we’re all a little (a lot) nervous for the status of Sweet/Vicious. So let’s talk about why MTV needs to seriously, seriously renew it. In this seriously underrated dramedy, the creators have managed to weave together comedic humor and the serious subject of sexual assault – a feat, but one that works surprisingly well.
There have been plenty of articles about why Sweet/Vicious needs to be renewed – from pointing out its fearless way of dealing with sexual assault, to reminding us that we all need a little (a lot of) girl power in this day and age. So let me add my two cents – honestly MTV just needs to renew Sweet/Vicious in spite of Donald Drumpf. But seriously.
Let’s break it down. The show feels real, which is unfortunate, but also a good thing. It’s upfront with its central sexual assault plot line, basically stating, “This is a thing, a horrible thing, that’s happening, and it needs to be shown.” It doesn’t back down from making its viewers uncomfortable; Episode 7 depicts a heartbreaking sexual assault scene between the main character, Jules Thomas, and someone she trusted. It’s original, especially for MTV. I adore MTV and the content they produce, which is why I believe that they have something special in their hands. It’s not a spin-off, or a reality show, or even a show based on a movie or book. Sweet/Vicious is honestly the most refreshing, newest, and all around most authentic show I’ve seen on MTV in a while. It’s witty when we need a little break, but serious when it needs to be. It’s got that superhero touch, making it known that what is happening is real, but heightened so that we can still find some comfort in watching what happens. Finally, it is in no way baiting the audience. There is no baiting a certain character or a certain plot, it just is. Simply and purely.
If there’s one thing Sweet/Vicious does – and is praised for time and time again – it redefines sexual assault. Speaking from personal experience, I’m so used to hearing that sexual assault happens in a dark alley, and the rapist is a stranger. Yet, Sweet/Vicious shows that this is not always the case – in fact, it is rarely the case. Most sexual assaults happen between people who know each and sometimes happen in the survivor’s own home. The cases on Sweet/Vicious are usually between dates or friends and in a place that would usually not be thought of as dangerous. Sweet/Vicious is changing how audiences view sexual assault, showing it as something that can be quick and quiet, but still violent and aggressive.
Sweet/Vicious is changing how audiences view sexual assault, showing it as something that can be quick and quiet, but still violent and aggressive.
Sexual assault is the Big Thing that Sweet/Vicious seriously focuses on, but there’s also a myriad of issues that the show touches on. Mental health plays a serious role on the show, with both Jules and Ophelia. It’s one of the driving forces as to why the girls are doing what they’re doing. Sure at a base level, it’s about righting injustices on Darlington’s campus, but for the first half of the season and even the last few episodes, we see both girls struggling with their mental health. Jules is using her vigilante duties as a way to cope, but it’s because she can’t emotionally and mentally deal with her assault—so she’s dealing with it physically. Ophelia joins Jules because of “reasons,” and it’s clear one of these reasons is so she can feel like she isn’t messing everything up for anyone, but actually helping.
Mental health is a tricky topic to explore on a television show, but it’s necessary, especially when dealing with a topic such as sexual assault. Sweet/Vicious dives into post-traumatic culture and highlights how important it is to take care of yourself after something traumatic and violent happens.
Something else Sweet/Vicious does is blatantly show the ripple effect that a sexual assault can have. It does mainly affect the survivor, but it also affects everyone around the survivor as well as the rapist. Sweet/Vicious shows what it’s like to be in the position where your stepbrother committed a rape, or in the position of the girlfriend of the rapist but also the best friend of the survivor. It carefully and meticulously explores these stories as well as focusing on Jules’ story, since their stories are a part of Jules’ story.
We talk a lot about how amazing and badass these girls, Jules and Ophelia are and I am the first person who could go on and on about them. But, we need to talk about the good guys in this show too. Recently, I was talking with a friend about the show and she made a comment that the amount of good main character guys outweigh the horrible ones. She continued by citing a book she had just finished that had zero, zero, good male characters – they were all portrayed as these horrible villains, which isn’t realistic at all.
In Sweet/Vicious we have three (five, if you include Barton and Miles – I do, but for the sake of explaining, I’m keeping it small), main guys who are inherently good. They are, as the kids say, woke. Tyler, Harris, and Evan are all aware of the extremely horrific and horrible things that are happening, they are continually there for the girls – supporting them in any way they can – and they admit when they are wrong or need help. Sweet/Vicious, at its core, is about Jules and Ophelia, but we are able to see that these main guys are acting as role models for the male viewers.
The response Sweet/Vicious has gotten has been incredible to watch. This show had little to no advertisements, but now has over a thousand signatures from fans begging for MTV for a renewal announcement. This show matters to people. You see people being brave enough to share their story or even just people taking steps to get involved with the conversation about sexual assault. The statistics are horrific: 1 in 5 women will be victims of a sexual assault during their college career . Even as writing this, I received two campus alerts informing me about a sexual assault that has happened on campus.
Sexual assault needs to be talked about – not just on the news or on Facebook or Twitter, but across all forms of media. A show about two girls beating up college rapists might not be what we were expecting, but holy shit, it’s one of the best ways. It’s the first step in kickstarting the conversation. This is not an easy topic for a television show to handle, but Sweet/Vicious does it with grace.