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The #MeToo Movement in Film and TV Formats

A cinema lit up with pink lights

The #MeToo Movement continues to echo in news headlines and popular culture. It will be in the spotlight at this year’s Academy Awards on February 9, since there are three nominations for the movie Bombshell. The film focuses on the women who set out to expose Fox News CEO Roger Ailes for alleged sexual harassment.

Bombshell is one of a number of TV shows and films that are exploring the themes and aftermath of the #MeToo movement, which went viral in 2017 after first being created by advocate Tarana Burke in 2006. Through both fictional and non-fictional storytelling, pop culture is delving into the questions, predicaments, and trauma raised by experiences of sexual harassment and assault, prompting us to ask ourselves what we would do in these situations, look at the role played by systems and institutions, and reflect on how much still has to change.

Here is a roundup of recent TV shows and films that are continuing the conversation around #MeToo. It is by no means exhaustive, so add your suggestions in the comments section!

Bombshell: The film is based on the true story of when Gretchen Carlson, a Fox Network co-host, filed a lawsuit against CEO Roger Ailes in 2016. This later prompted another Fox host, Megyn Kelly, to take legal action. The film looks at the fallout as the network’s culture of sexual harassment comes to light. Charlize Theron and Margot Robbie earned Academy Award nominations for their performances in the film.

Surviving R. Kelly: This six-part Lifetime documentary series, which aired in January 2019, features interviews with many women who shared stories of alleged abuse at the hands of the R&B star Robert Kelly. The month after the series aired, R. Kelly was charged with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, and has since faced other charges, on which he maintains innocence. In January 2020, Surviving R. Kelly II: The Reckoning was released, looking at issues like the culture of complicity surrounding the abuse, and what justice will look like for the women involved.

Unbelievable: In this eight-part Netflix series, an 18-year-old woman who goes to the police to report that a man broke into her apartment and raped her at knifepoint ends up facing charges of making a false claim. Through the series, it is ultimately revealed that the she was one of many victims of a serial rapist. Unbelievable is based on a 2015 Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative report called An Unbelievable Story of Rape by Pro Publica and the Marshall Project.

On the Record: This documentary, which premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film festival, features several women sharing stories of alleged sexual misconduct by Def Jam Recordings co-founder Russell Simmons. Simmons has denied the allegations. The film has been acquired by HBO Max, which plans to launch it in May.

The Morning Show: When a fictional morning show host (played by Steve Carell) finds himself facing sexual harassment allegations, his co-host and colleagues navigate their next steps and the power dynamics of the highly-competitive media world. Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon star in this Apple TV+ drama, and have earned multiple award nominations for their performances.

The Reckoning: Hollywood’s Worst Kept Secret: This documentary by Canadian director Barry Avrich gives an overview of the sexual harassment scandal prompted by allegations against Harvey Weinstein. Various interviews reveal the inner workings of a system of control and abuse of power. The film premiered at the 2018 Hot Docs film festival in Toronto, and it is available on CBC GEM.

 

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