Just to preface this opening post on this blog of all things that inspire me to write, I haven’t even finished Criminals UK yet. Quite characteristic of my impulsive and sometimes non-existent desire to write, I haven’t even completed the short series that I will be talking about in this post. I’m one episode away from finishing season two, after inhaling the whole second series in one morning. However, I think the writing is amazing, and some of the topics that arise hadn’t even crossed my tiny little mind. So I’m going to write about it, mainly for my education if anything.
Criminals: UK is an episodic series that follows a small team of Police detectives within the confines of the interrogation room. Each episode, the officers engage in a back and forth with the criminals, each case being different from the previous. Often there is a case presented to you at the beginning of the episode, and it will have morphed into something entirely different just a few moment later. You hardly even notice the distinct lack of variation in location, and personally it makes me even more impressed. The cases almost always feature a twist or a change in tact to keep the viewer engaged. I have also been especially impressed by the casting in the series. David Tenant, who plays a truly psychotic father, and Lee Ingleby, the smart detective counterpart both have been gripping to watch.
Okay, enough of my gush-fest over what will retrospectively be a very average and possibly forgettable Netflix original series. There was a scene in Series two, episode 2, that caused me and my girlfriend to pause and just think ‘jheeze’. In the episode, the annoyingly handsome Kit Harrington plays a gross Salesman of some kind, someone that self-admittedly has power, but in reality is just another posh guy in a suit. The stereotypical white, cis-male, with money. The case in question is a rape case, Kit, or Alex, is being charged with raping a female colleague, Sarah, after a staff night-out. Something that is often not persecuted in court because of patriarchal bias, my word against theirs is often heavily weighted to one end of the argument. After a lack of evidence, the detectives turn to Sarah’s medical files. Something that is used to scare Alex in that moment, containing possibly condemning or illuminating information. Well, it would be both of those things if Alex wasn’t a white, male. Amanda Drew, playing Alex’s solicitor, tells Alex that the contents of the medical file is irrelevant whatever the outcome. Whether the reports show internal bruising, or marks on the victims arms, none of this is relevant because in these cases there is nothing more important than the argument of passion. Essentially that all truthful and factually correct information is thrown out of the window if the accused male claims that it was ‘a moment of lust between the two’ or something cliche like that, or that it was simply rough sex. The Solicitor delivers this powerful, but disturbingly professional speech, all whilst a tear rolls down her cheek. A really powerful scene.
This school of thought held by the law department is truly prehistoric, and though depicted through a fictional medium, is very real. In 2019 only 1.7% of rape cases were prosecuted, with the remaining 98% being allowed to walk freely. To further put this into perspective, this fall in prosecution is coming at a time in which actions of sexual violence have increased by 9%. Amanda Drew’s outstanding monologue in which she faces moments of internal conflict is no doubt a product of a very real issue. Where female solicitors face the struggle and balance between work and what is right. Winning the legal battle at the cost of compliance with the biased legal system. And more importantly, the issue of a systematically sexist legal system.
These are the moments in which my opinion, separates Criminal: UK from other ‘edgy’ Netflix original shows. Not only does it present a suspenseful and engaging watch through reckless plot twists and great dialog, but also brings to light aspects of the backwards and abhorrent views that the current law system has on the way we view rape case evidence.
Oh and by the way, Kit Harrington wasn’t even guilty. But false accusations of rape are so incredibly rarer than the topic I’ve discussed, so I thought this far more important to write about.