The WIGS channel on YouTube brings scripted dramas and documentaries, all featuring women (though mostly white women – race is an area that I think the YouTube channel could improve upon) at the forefront of these stories. There was one in particular that caught my attention last year when it first premiered, and that was “Lauren.”
Season 1 had three episodes starring Troian Bellisario as Lauren, a soldier in the army who files a report to her superior officer about being gang-raped by her fellow soldiers. Bellisario gives a terrific performance, and through the expressions on her face, you know that she is going through a massive internal struggle to remain poised on the outside – the way a soldier is trained and taught to behave – and the anger, depression, and frustration she must be feeling inside. But Lauren cannot let her guard down.
Rape in the military is a subject that is constantly overlooked, and recently, it’s gotten to the point where Congress is considering a Bill that would take these rape investigations out of the hands of the military chain of command. Often, military rape victims have no one else to report to but their boss, who might be close friends with the rapist or the rapist himself. It’s a huge problem, one that “Lauren” tackles head-on.
It is difficult to watch (each episode has a warning about strong language and sexual content) and rightly so because “Lauren” captures the grim realities that many of these military men and women who have been sexually assaulted must face. In Season 1, Lauren is discouraged from filing charges by another female, her boss – Major Stone (Jennifer Beals). When Lauren ultimately decides to go through it, with only a reporter to help her, she learns that getting justice comes with consequences for herself – she’ll be dismissed from the military.
The music – a dramatic army instrumental straight from a Lifetime movie – could be improved upon. It’s a little cheesy, and were it not for the terrific actresses, it would pull you out of the moment.
As for Jennifer Beal’s character, you’re given the sense that there is much more going on with her and that she isn’t a malicious person. You aren’t given clear-cut answers until Season 2, in which they delve more into the character’s past. The reveal gives you a better picture of who this character is, and what she has been through.
Lauren has to grapple with two very difficult choices, and when she finally makes a decision, it’s like a kick to the gut for the viewer. Again, this subject matter is presented in the most realistic way possible, and the makers of the series do not veer away from that at all.
Season 2 features flashbacks prior to Lauren reporting the rapes to her lieutenant, and the aftermath of the decision she made in Season 1.
If you can stomach it, it’s a series that you need to watch. I highly recommend it.