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Unbelievable

Original airdate: September 13, 2019
Directed by: Lisa Cholodenko, Michael Dinner...
Written by: Susannah Grant, M. Chabon...
Produced by: Katie DiMento, Ken Armstrong...
Running time: 50 minutes per 8 episodes

Marie (Kaitlyn Dever), a young woman living in a community for at-risk youth, tells police that she was raped by an intruder. The cops start investigating, but the more they question Marie, the more likely it seems that she made up the whole story. Three years later, Detective Karen Duvall (Merritt Wever) is working on a rape case with similar circumstances to Marie’s, though Duvall has no way of knowing that. As additional rapes take place, Duvall joins forces with Grace Rasmussen (Toni Collette), a Colorado detective. The two women start to connect the dots.

Cast & Characters

Kaitlyn Dever (Marie Adler), Toni Collette (Detective Grace Rasmussen), Merritt Wever (Detective Karen Duvall), Blake Ellis (Chris McCarthy), Dale Dickey (RoseMarie), Danielle Macdonald (Amber Stevenson), Elizabeth Marvel (Judith), Bridget Everett (Colleen Doggett), Liza Lapira (Mia), Kai Lennox (Steve Rasmussen), Austin Hébert (Max Duvall), Omar Maskati (Elias), Annaleigh Ashford (Lilly Darrow), Eric Lange (Detective Robert Parker), Scott Lawrence (Special Agent Billy Taggart), Connor Tillman (Officer Nick Selig), Patricia Fa’asua (Becca), Max Arciniega (Jason Alvarez), Jun Hee Lee (Officer Geoffrey Morris), Bill Fagerbakke (Detective Pruitt), Charlie McDermott (Ty), Brent Sexton (Al), Shane Paul McGhie (Connor), Allius Barnes (Remy), Treisa Gary (Evelyn), Tim Martin Gleason (Bennett), Alison Jaye (Nicole), John Hartmann (Donald Hughes), Dejon LaQuake (Ryan), Aaron Staton (Curtis McCarthy), Jamila Allen (Jolene), Tate Ellington (Stephen Graham), Tess Aubert (Maddie), Jayne Taini (Doris Laird), Gatsby Coram (Sergeant Ditwell), Elena Campbell-Martinez (Judge Audrey Costas), Aubrey Fuller (Rosie), Omar Ghonim (FBI Tech), Kya Kruse (Nadia), Aiden Randall (Ricardo), Olivia Welch (Amelia), Hendrix Yancey (Daisy)

Production Notes

Inspired by the real-life events documented in The Marshall Project and ProPublica Pulitzer Prize-winning article, “An Unbelievable Story of Rape,” and the This American Life radio episode, “Anatomy of Doubt,” Unbelievable tells the horrifying, unflinching, and ultimately moving story of two detectives who bring a serial rapist to justice, and the parallel narrative of a survivor who is accused of lying about her experience years before Wever and Collette’s characters take the case. As Marie recounts the disturbing details of what happened to her over and over—with her foster parents, the male detectives assigned to the case, and even her friends—Marie goes from perceived victim to branded liar and is ultimately charged with filing a false police report.

It has real meaning and felt hugely important. But not in any kind of weird, dogmatic way. It’s just that I too am female, and there is an existing law that is imbalanced. It’s unbelievable that something like this could happen and continues to happen. I really loved my character so much. I love all of the characters. It’s handled so deftly and honestly. Everything about it is tactical and respectful. And I love that at 46 years of age, I can be offered a part like this. She doesn’t take any shit and fucking drives a muscle car and swaggers through life. She’s her own boss and I love that. I love how complicated they both are. It feels real because it is real. (Toni Collette, Harper’s Bazaar, September 21, 2019)

It’s the type of story that’s become all too familiar as movements like #MeToo and #BelieveWomen continue to dominate the news cycle. But in Unbelievable, helmed by showrunner Susannah Grant, there are no hashtags or army of supporters demanding justice for Adler. Instead, there’s Wever’s Detective Karen Duvall and Collette’s Detective Grace Rasmussen, two very different women who identify a pattern of crimes and are bonded by a shared commitment to tracking down their perpetrator. Taking on these roles at a time of much social and political reckoning was a heavy responsibility for Wever and Collette, but the actresses felt a deep desire to not only represent the heroes they play, but explore the complexities of law enforcement, gender, female vulnerability, and the human experience onscreen.

“Unbelievable” earned rave reviews by critics and was voted among many top ten lists of 2019’s television shows. It won the AFI Award for TV Program of the Year and received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Television Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television alongside three individual acting nominees for Dever, Wever and Collette. Toni Collette further received a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination as Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Limited Series and won the Critics Choice Award as Best Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie Made for Television.