With the holidays right around the corner and most of your favorite television shows on break, it’s the perfect time for a good ol’ holiday binge. That’s why we here at The TV Junkies wanted to take a moment to alert TV fans about Sweet/Vicious, a little show in the middle of its first season on MTV and MTV Canada. Not only is the show perfect binge material, but it’s doing a stellar job at bringing attention to the epidemic of sexual assault on college campuses and furthering the discussion around topics such as rape and consent.
Sweet/Vicious was created by Jennifer Kaytin Robinson, who also serves as a writer and executive producer, and is a take on the classic superhero story. This story revolves around two girls, Jules (Eliza Bennett), a sorority girl who is out for vengeance after being sexually assaulted by her friend’s boyfriend Nate (Dylan McTee), and her unlikely vigilante partner Ophelia (Taylor Dearden), a chill, trust fund hacker. After getting fed up, the girls band together to get back at the men on campus after losing faith in the authorities.
Before the show returns with new episodes on Tuesday, January 3 at 10 p.m., we want to take a minute to outline a few reasons why Sweet/Vicious has quickly become one of our new favorites. If you’ve not watched, no worries, all five episodes are available online at MTV’s website. So hurry on over, check those out over the holiday break and be ready to live tweet with the cast and crew when the show returns in the new year!
Inclusivity and Representation are its main goals
Upon first glance, given the serious nature of topics that Sweet/Vicious is tackling, the show may not seem like standard MTV fare. However, millennials are exactly the viewers that creator Robinson had in mind when she was developing the show. “It was so important for me with this show to make something that would be inclusive and tackle something important, but allow young people to see themselves more on TV,” she tells The TV Junkies. That feeling of seeing one’s self in the characters portrayed on screen was one that Robinson says she never got to experience herself. She recalls “when I was growing up I loved watching the shows aimed at me, but never really felt seen or heard. There was nothing in those shows that made me think ‘Wow! Other people feel this way? Great!’” So when it came time for Sweet/Vicious, Robinson confirms her main goal was “to create a show that would make people feel less alone.”
Serious issues tackled with humor and light
Throughout Season 1, Jules and Ophelia are battling sexual assaults on campus, but the show also looks at other serious issues, such as body shaming. One of the reasons we love the show so much is that despite addressing these issues, its tone remains fairly light and very funny. “Humor is a coping mechanism. Humor is something I use in dark times,” explains Robinson. She believes that “there are ways to tell the story that are straight drama, but I don’t know if that’s going to reach everyone.” Robinson says she feels the lighter approach helps the show reach millennials, and that it was very important to make something that was viewed as entertainment. “At its core it’s entertainment and should feel fun,” she explains before acknowledging that “what we’re trying to get out there is a message that’s extremely important and that we took very seriously.”
Multiple complex female characters are repped
“I wanted these characters to feel nuanced, real and have real voices that people could relate to that didn’t feel like the cliche version of women you’ve seen before,” says Robinson. Granted, upon first glance it’d be easy to see the ladies of Sweet/Vicious as just your typical goody good girl, stoner hacker and sorority president, but Robinson says they really wanted to dive into what made all those women tick. “We looked at how we could take these cliches and flip them on their head so it feels fresh and make this feel like the women that myself, the executive producers and writers know today. That was super important to us,” she explains. The results of their efforts speak for themselves, as the show delivers multiple layered female characters that will not be silenced and all of whom demand your attention.
Female Friendship is something to be celebrated
Not only is it refreshing to see so many different types of female characters represented on Sweet/Vicious, but the relationships between these women take center stage and are celebrated as well. “First and foremost we wanted to create female friendships that were inclusive and that were loving,” says Robinson. She says that “so often on television you see women against women, these bitchy characters who are mean girls and they make that seem cool. That’s not cool to me and it shouldn’t be what’s cool, especially now more than ever when we need more female love.” So whether it’s Jules and Ophelia learning to trust one another, the complicated relationship between Jules and Kennedy, or even the refreshingly unexpected budding friendship between Kennedy and Ophelia, female friendship is alive and well on Sweet/Vicious and we can’t get enough!
Eliza Bennett and Taylor Dearden
In many ways, a show like Sweet/Vicious hinges on the watchability of its core duo, and Eliza Bennett and Taylor Dearden are incredibly winning and talented. “I knew the minute they screen tested together that we had two incredible people. It was so instantaneous,” recalls Robinson. Bennett takes what could be standard sorority girl Jules and not only gives her so many different dimensions, but seamlessly transitions between confusion and rage while endearing herself to viewers. And if you think Dearden’s Ophelia is only here for the comic relief, then you’re sadly mistaken. She’s just as good at portraying Ophelia’s underlying sadness as she is at those wicked deadpan deliveries. Simply put, “they are amazing,” enthuses Robinson.
But really the whole cast is super talented
“Once we got on set and saw the whole cast together, they are all so talented,” says Robinson. So while the lead duo are completely worthy of our attention, Sweet/Vicious doesn’t stop there. The colorful array of supporting characters includes the always hilarious Brandon Mychal Smith (You’re the Worst), who plays Ophelia’s boss Harris, Chasing Life’s Aisha Dee as Kennedy and Jules and Ophelia’s adorable suitors Tyler (Nick Fink) and Evan (Stephen Friedrich). Then since every good superhero show needs a villain and bad guy to hate, Dylan McTee brings tons of depth to Nate, Jules’ attacker. “It’s why we wrote things like the art scene in Episode 5, where they do the popup, because I wanted them all in a room together,” explains Robinson. It’s also something she wants to do more of should the show be renewed for Season 2. “I’m really excited in future seasons to make them a little gang. I want them to hang out at the Peach Pit together because I just love them,” she jokes.
Men are more than just the enemy
While the females on Sweet/Vicious take center stage, and given the nature of the stories the show is telling, it’d be easy for the message of “all men are evil” to come across. However, instead the show gives layers to these men, and even attackers like Nate are given insight as to what they’re truly thinking. “There are so many different sides to this epidemic,” explains Robinson. “We felt that it would be a disservice to the conversation around education and consent, around the way men are being brought up and sent to college with that ‘take what you want’ mentality, to not speak to and broaden the conversation around not only the survivor, but also the person that’s the perpetrator,” she says. So while Robinson confirms that “what Nate did was rape,” she does add that “there’s a gray area, and we wanted to talk about and explore that gray area. I don’t think all these boys necessarily start as the villain, it’s what they do once they are confronted with their actions that make them villainous. That was really interesting for us to dig into as writers and creators.”
Did we mention representation?
While Ophelia seems ready to embark on a new relationship with Evan, Robinson confirms something many fans have been curious about and something she’s said on twitter, that Ophelia is indeed bisexual. However, don’t expect there to be any coming out scenes. “She never outwardly comes out and says she’s bisexual because she just is, and we did not feel like she needed to come out,” explains Robinson. Given that the show was built upon the principles of inclusivity and representation, Robinson is eagerly awaiting the chance to explore Ophelia’s sexuality in the future. “I will say if we get a Season 2 I would love to see Ophelia in a relationship with a woman. I think that would be awesome and she’s the kind of person that if she finds someone she’s passionate about, gender is not an issue,” says Robinson. So male or female, more than anything says Robinson, Ophelia “is just looking for love, companionship and someone who is going to want to play video games with her. If that’s a girl, dope. We are so open to that.”
Are you watching Sweet/Vicious? Are you as obsessed as we are? Sound off in the comments below!
Sweet/Vicious airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET on MTV and MTV Canada. All episodes are available online at MTV’s website.
Editor in Chief Bridget Liszewski comes from a long line of TV Junkies who fostered her love of television from a very young age. She's channeled that passion into covering both US and Canadian television shows, and is thankful everyday for the invention of the DVR. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, she loves college football and is a fan of sports in general. Bridget is always up for talking TV and you can follow her on twitter at @BridgetOnTV.