‘Cruel Summer’ Has A New Twist On The Victim Blaming Narrative

The delusion of the proper sufferer is one which’s haunted us because the daybreak of time; and now, it’s being explored on Freeform’s Cruel Summer. But the way in which the sequence is exploring this drained and patently false narrative has led to a richer story about the way in which we perceive survivors and victims, and the sequence is all the higher for this twist.

Until Episode 7, Kate Wallis’ (OIivia Holt) story largely adopted the proper sufferer trope. That was very true when her story was being advised by Kate’s mom, Joy (Andrea Anders). The method Joy tells it, Kate was a accountable, well-liked, rule-abiding woman who was in the future captured by her vice principal. In this model, Kate is the proper damsel in misery, a younger lady so devoted to propriety and devoid of her personal company that she’s seen as having little greater than a supporting function in her personal kidnapping.

Of course, we all know that was by no means the case. Martin (Blake Lee) wasn’t a monster who lurked within the shadows to grab Kate. He was one thing much more nefarious. He ingratiated himself each in the neighborhood of this small city, and in Kate’s household. From the second he met Kate, he began to groom her. When Kate was alone and drunk after a struggle along with her mother, he pretended to be her good friend. When she was bored and annoyed throughout her household’s annual looking journey, he led her apart, encouraging a relationship that was too intimate. So when Kate wanted someplace to flee, Martin’s manipulations paid off. She ran to him, identical to he all the time meant.

'Cruel Summer'
Photo: Freeform

The essential piece of knowledge that Kate went to Martin was revealed on the finish of “Happy Birthday, Kate Wallis.” It then served as a story cornerstone for “Proof” and can doubtless proceed to affect the remainder of the sequence. Because Kate by no means advised the police she went to Martin, Jeanette (Chiara Aurelia) can level to this inconsistency as proof that Kate was mendacity. And if Kate lied about that, she may have lied about seeing Jeanette, an essential plot level within the total story that pits Kate’s narrative towards Jeanette’s. In brief, Kate’s total case towards Jeanette, in addition to her credibility and popularity, has the potential to be destroyed by this one delusion.

If that appears tousled, that’s the purpose. Never as soon as has Cruel Summer depicted what Kate endured as something lower than hell. Over its first season it’s chronicled Kate’s episodes of PTSD, her determined seek for any type of group that understands her, and her abject sense of loneliness. Most of Kate’s time in 1994 and 1995 is spent both sighing or sneering over the life she used to reside. What Martin did to Kate robbed her of herself, and due to him she will by no means return to her as soon as harmless previous. That heavy realization is one thing that the sequence painstakingly explores.

Having this degree of empathy for a personality who additionally lied about what occurred is an enormous deal. Though it’s getting higher, our society likes to sufferer blame, particularly in relation to younger ladies. Most information tales about murdered ladies are adopted by an inventory of belittling questions. What was she carrying? How a lot did she should drink? Why was she out alone so late at night time? These place the onus on the one who was attacked, quite than the attacker. They’re additionally why the concept of an ideal sufferer is so alluring. Throw a innocent, virginal younger lady at risk and the scenario appears black and white, quite than coloured by our society’s rampant sexism.

By merely making Kate’s story extra advanced, Cruel Summer is difficult this problematic narrative. There may very well be 1,000,000 explanation why Kate lied to the cops about coming into Martin’s home. She may have been afraid they wouldn’t take her severely after that admission, and there’s actually grounds for that concern. It may have been an sincere mistake that Kate is now terrified to right. The purpose for the lie isn’t essential. However Kate got here to be locked in Martin’s basement, the present is obvious that it was by no means Kate’s fault. That tonal element is revolutionary, not simply on this planet of crime dramas however in how we contextualize victims and survivors typically.

New episodes of Cruel Summer premiere on Freeform Tuesdays and Hulu Wednesdays. 

Where to stream Cruel Summer

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