the problem with ryan murphy's ‘consent’

No, you should not make a fictionalized show about the #MeToo movement.

by Emily Kirkpatrick
08 May 2018, 6:30pm

Image via Lena Dunham/Instagram

In a profile by Emily Nussbaum in the New Yorker, prolific TV producer Ryan Murphy announced that he has been mulling over a number of new story ideas, including one for a TV show called Consent.

As you might be able to intuit from that title alone, the program would tackle the sensitive subject of the #MeToo movement head-on. Nussbaum writes that Consent could potentially be a new American Crime Story, the franchise in which Murphy creates high-profile dramatic reenactments of crimes that captured our national attention. She explains that the show, “would follow a Black Mirror model: every episode would explore a different story, starting with an insidery account of the Weinstein Company. There would be an episode about Kevin Spacey, one about an ambiguous he-said-she-said encounter. Each episode could have a different creator.”

Unfortunately for diehard Murphy fans, the concept has yet to come to fruition as the Glee and American Horror Story creator currently finds himself in between networks. As Nussbaum points out, Murphy is no longer at FX, currently in the process of handing off his iconic shows to new producers, and is not yet installed at Netflix as his rumored $300 million contract isn’t slated to officially begin until July 1. This leaves Consent lost somewhere in the pre-production ether and, honestly, that’s probably for the best.

While a Black Mirror inspired #MeToo series does sound like perfect Ryan Murphy fodder, blending mind-warping sci-fi with elements pulled straight out of the cultural zeitgeist, there’s one glaringly obvious problem with that plotline the uber-producer seems not to have fully considered — we are all still very much living within a Black Mirror inspired #MeToo reality.

In fact, it’s hard to imagine something more dystopian than the lengths to which Harvey Weinstein allegedly went to silence his victims, hiring private detectives to destroy their lives and reputations, paying off staff journalists at every paper of record, and even convincing the entire legal system to turn a blind eye to his behavior. Or how about Representative Trent Franks of Arizona who allegedly propositioned two of his aides, requesting that they not only have sex with him, but serve as the surrogates for his child to the tune of 5 million dollars. To say nothing of the millions upon millions of taxpayer dollars that have quietly gone towards silencing his fellow politicians’ various sexual indiscretions and abuses of power. And then of course, there’s R. Kelly. A man whose alleged victims have been groomed by this predator from the time they were pre-teens, brainwashed into a sex cult, and held captive in his various properties. A story made all the more terrifying by the fact that the public has known all about these highly abusive relationships for almost a year, in addition to the singer’s past quarter century of disturbing behavior with under-age women, and are only just now beginning to seriously reckon with those allegations after Vince Staples called him a “child molestor” in an interview at Coachella.

If Murphy is actually interested in dealing with the horrors of sexual assault, abuse, harassment, and rape, instead of using those stories for his own profit, perhaps he should start by putting in the hard work to help stop the very real systemic horrors that are still happening to women and men every single day.

Ryan Murphy
think piece