“There is stuff happening out there and no one is doing anything about it,” sorority-girl-turned-masked-vigilante Jules says during the premiere episode of MTV’s “Sweet/Vicious.” “People are just getting away with awful things. I’m trying to make some of that right.”
Oh that we could make so many awful things right in 2016. On the precipice of America’s first grab-’em-by-the-pussy president, there’s a whole lot to be righteously angry about. Enter “Sweet/Vicious,” MTV’s new (and shockingly timely) comedy-drama. The show, created by 28-year-old Jennifer Kaytin Robinson, explores what would happen if two ballsy college students ― sorority darling Jules and stoner tech whiz Ophelia ― decided to take on campus sexual assault, one abuser at time.
In the age of Donald Trump, “Sweet/Vicious” plays like an extended, satisfying revenge fantasy for women who feel increasingly unsafe and unheard in their own country.
Jules, who is herself a survivor of rape, has become a masked, ass-kicking vigilante before the show even begins. (The opening scene finds her beating the crap out of a male college student who assaulted a girl named Beth. “Please, please no,” he whimpers as a masked Jules punches him in the face. “I’m sorry, I thought no meant yes,” she responds.) Ophelia, a directionless but wealthy and brilliant weed dealer, stumbles into Jules’ punishing path during the first episode. Through a series of unfortunate circumstances, and one brilliant rendition of “Defying Gravity,” the women are thrown together, eventually deciding to combine forces on a shared mission.
Robinson told The Huffington Post that she conceived of “vigilante-esque female characters” before she decided exactly what they would be fighting, but the epidemic of campus sexual assault felt like a meaningful fit. According to the CDC, nearly 1 in 5 women report experiencing rape in their lifetimes, and 19 percent of undergraduate college women say they have experienced “attempted or completed sexual assault” during their college years.
Once Robinson decided that “Sweet/Vicious” would be centered around sexual assault, she wanted to make sure that the show was made first and foremost for survivors. She worked with organizations like End Campus Rape and RAINN when crafting the first season of the show, and continues to speak with women and men who have been impacted by sexual violence through social media. MTV and RAINN even teamed up for a “Sweet/Vicious” viewing party contest, meant to raise funds for the anti-sexual violence organization.
“I made this show because I wanted women ― survivors of any kind of trauma ― to feel like they belonged,” Robinson told HuffPost. “And then as we started to research and I started to speak with survivors, it became even more important to me to make the show for the survivor, and make sure that they felt heard and did not feel exploited.”