The body is the crime scene.
That is why recovering from sexual assault is so difficult. Perpetrators can walk away. The victim can never get away. Victims are also told, “It’s your fault.” Bullshit. Gaslighting at it’s finest.
ABC’s rookie drama a million little things addressed sexual assault this past Thursday. Episode 14 “someday” finally gave us the answer as to why Regina (Christina Moses) and her mother Shelly (Romy Rosemont) have such a difficult relationship. Shelly is a passive-aggressive and overbearing mother in the same vein as Marie Barone (Everybody Loves Raymond) and Emily Gilmore (Gilmore Girls), minus the humor.
This mother-daughter relationship comes to a head the night before Executive Chef Regina is to open her new restaurant. Regina gets a text from her mother’s brother Neil which reads, “Glad it all worked out.” Regina hasn’t spoke to her uncle in decades. When Regina asks her mother not only why she gave Neil her phone number and address, she also asks, “What does ‘glad it all worked out’ mean?” Shelly admits that she wasn’t the one who helped finance Regina’s restaurant, it was Neil. Regina flips out on her mom and then she tells her business partner Delilah (Stephanie Szostak), “This restaurant will never open. Not with me involved.” With that, Regina is out.
At home, Regina is inconsolable. Her husband Rome (Romany Malco, Jr) asks Maggie (Allison Miller) to help Regina. (FYI: Maggie is a therapist. Her dual role as friend/therapist with Rome and now Regina is pushing serious ethical boundaries, but I’m going to let that go.) That’s when Regina tells the story of her uncle’s sexual assault of her at age 12. She said that when she tried to tell Shelly the day after, her mother’s response was, “You must have misunderstood. He was just trying to comfort you.”
Take the needle off the record. Bae said what? A misunderstanding? 😦 😦 😦 Girl….. 😦 My twists were on fire!
Regina is blaming herself. Rome is hearing all of this for the first time. Maggie is telling her, “You were a 12 year old girl. You did nothing wrong.” That whole scene had me in my feelings. It was hard to watch.
The next morning Regina, Rome, and Maggie (along for emotional support) head to the hospital where Neil is being treated for a never revealed illness. Regina intends to give him the money back and she wants Neil to apologize. Maggie warns her: don’t expect an apology.
In a touch of magical realism, Regina walks past her 12-year-old self on the way to her uncle’s room. She gets to his room only to find his hospital bed empty. “Your uncle died a couple of hours ago,” a doctor tells her. “I’m sorry you didn’t get to say goodbye.” Regina is beyond angry and frustrated that she never got to confront her uncle and she’s mad at her mother for not believing her. Maggie gently says, “Maybe your mom couldn’t hear you because your uncle hurt her too. If she acknowledges your truth, she’s have to admit her own.”
Shelly is walking up to the hospital at that moment. Regina runs to her mother to ask: “What did he do to you?” And with that, mother and daughter have their #metoo moment.
At the end of the episode, Regina does return to a very successful opening night of the restaurant, aptly titled “someday.” (John had told her the night before his death that you can ‘someday’ yourself out of a life.) Regina tells her mom that she’s donating all of Neil’s money to a women’s shelter. Shelly say’s she very proud of her daughter, and Regina cooks her scallops for dinner.
a million little things deals with the aftermath of suicide, male and female breast cancer, infidelity, divorce, depression, secrets and lies. This story line cannot be dropped. And I’m a bit worried that the show may gloss over this topic. And it’s because Uncle Neil is dead.
As Maggie told Regina, “It’s not about him.” Yes and no. It’s not about him because Regina and Shelly’s healing does not rest on Neil’s apology, acknowledgement, nor validation of his heinous, criminal acts. It is about him in the sense that these women need to vent their rage at him as a part of their healing. Anger and rage are a natural reaction to sexual assault. I want to see these women go through all of their stages of grief so they can heal themselves as well as their relationship. I will be watching.
ABC’s a million little things airs Thursdays at 9:00pm EST.
Up next: a review of Best Picture nominee Roma.