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Image / Editorial

Loved Netflix’s Unbelievable? This is the podcast you need to listen to next


By Jennifer McShane
17th Sep 2019

UNBELIEVABLE

Loved Netflix’s Unbelievable? This is the podcast you need to listen to next

Loved the powerful series ‘Unbelievable’? Listen to the podcast partly on which it was based (though if you’ve yet to know the outcome of the series, there may be spoilers ahead). 


Unbelievable the new series that has generated much conversation, tells the true story of Marie, an American teenager who was charged with false reporting in 2009 after retracting an allegation of rape. The reasons behind Marie’s sudden change of story were unsettling, and her case became entangled in an investigation that spanned two years and multiple state police departments before it was finally solved by two female detectives.

What gives it so much emotional depth is that Marie may not have known herself exactly what happened. But, she was believed. Two female detectives believed her, even when Marie didn’t believe it herself.

Plenty told her she had to have gotten it wrong, to have made it up.

So, she backtracked. “It must have been a dream,” she said, but she was certain it had occurred, had felt it had occurred

Until she wasn’t any more.

The miniseries draws from a few sources, mainly T. Christian Miller and Ken Armstrong’s Pulitzer-winning article, “An Unbelievable Story of Rape.” It’s a must-read.

Marie’s story

But anyone following the case should also listen to the emotional 2016 This American Life podcast episode about Marie’s story titled “Anatomy of Doubt.”

Reported by Armstrong and Robyn Semien, the This American Life episode was made in partnership with ProPublica and The Marshall Project, the organisations that produced the article. We hear from Marie herself, in addition to her former foster mothers and the detectives on her case.

Her vulnerability and anger, as well as the guilt and frustration from everyone in the investigation, are so plainly felt.

The first act focuses on Marie’s investigation. The young woman reported to the police that she had been gagged, bound, and raped in her apartment in Lynnwood, Washington. People expressed doubt and so did Marie. They had their reasons to doubt, some of which are explained.

The second act brings us to Detectives Stacy Galbraith and Edna Hendershot. The women picked up connecting cases in other assaults and things took a turn.

Finally, the third act follows Marie’s story as a survivor.

Related: Bookmark it: The series you need to watch on Netflix this weekend

Her story is harrowing because we know it happened, but also because we know she was believed. Amongst all the doubt, the Brett Kavanagh’s of the world who seek to dismiss, to make themselves the victim and hero in equal measure, to silence those who should be heard.

This is Marie’s story, and the podcast reminds us that this isn’t simply a show to inform, this was someone’s life, and for a time, their hell.

Marie deserves to be heard and so, we need to listen closely.

Main photograph: Netflix