The Kit Harington Criminal UK episode on Netflix has received some backlash since it arrived on the platform, so let’s assess the situation.

This year has presented us with lots to think about, but let’s address a positive thought: Netflix has absolutely smashed it in 2020 so far.

They knocked it out of the park with a range of lockdown hits like Tiger King, Extraction, White Lines, Unsolved Mysteries and beyond. Indeed, they’ve continued to find success too, especially with film fans, unveiling the likes of I’m Thinking of Ending Things and The Devil All the Time just recently.

It’s on track to be their finest year yet. However, they’ve been no strangers to criticism for their content either.

Perhaps the most noteworthy example of criticism came from the streaming service’s marketing of the French film Cuties, directed by Maïmouna Doucouré.

Its September Netflix release has been swamped by controversy but now, some focus has somewhat shifted onto an episode of Criminal: UK…

still from Criminal: UK season 2 trailer, Idiotlamp Productions, IMDb

Netflix: Kit Harington Criminal episode

The season 2 episode stars Kit Harington (Game of Thrones) as Alex, an estate agent who has been accused of rape by a woman named Sarah, who is a junior member of the agent’s team.

Throughout the episode, he denies the allegations and claims that the pair engaged in consensual sex which she herself initiated.

As highlighted by Digital Spy, Alex argues that Sarah had a crush on him and left hints that this was the case, such as laughing at his jokes. He expresses that he thought this suggested she was interested in more than simply a work relationship.

Continuing to chronicle the narrative, it’s discovered that she had applied for a promotion and was informed she was unsuccessful the night after sleeping with Alex. Subsequently, Alex argues that this indicates that the night prior was a way for her to strive for social mobility which backfired.

We then learn that Claire – her flatmate – had applied for a promotion at her last job and failed, proceeding to fire a sexual misconduct allegation at her boss before being paid to depart from the company. This money was then spent on a holiday for the pair.

In the wake of this, the officials let Alex go free due to insufficient evidence against him.

Backlash explained

Essentially, some audiences are coming forward to condemn the episodes for presenting an alleged rape victim as a devious opportunist.

In conversation with Digital Spy, Nicola Mann – a spokesperson for Women Against Rape – weighed in:

“We seem to be going backwards 30, 40, 50 years every time something like this comes out. It feeds into the narrative that all women lie because they’re bitter, they want revenge, or they want compensation. Less than 1% of reported rapes are classed as false allegations and the actual conviction rate for rape now, the most recent figure that came out in The Guardian [in 2019], is 1.5%.”

She adds: “These programmes are making money out of a distortion of reality and it completely undermines our grasp on grassroots women’s struggles to get justice for all women.”

Digital Spy also notes that Katie Russell – spokesperson for Rape Crisis England & Wales – echoes these thoughts: “… It’s already sadly a widely held myth that women, in particular, routinely lie about rape or sexual violence for petty or vengeful reasons. And that is just simply not true. But it has very real, life-damaging consequences.”

While the episode has no doubt been praised by many, emerging criticisms against its treatment of such serious subject matter is likely to generate further discussion as more see it.

In other news, South Park pandemic special is on the way.