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Anatomy of a Scandal | what is acquaintance rape?

Updated: May 22, 2022

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"Parliamentary minister James Whitehouse is a happily married man with a loving family home, then a scandalous secret comes to light."

My Husband and I finished the first season of Anatomy of a Scandal last week and we quite liked it. I have several thoughts about it starting with ....

... is this Sienna Miller's first back-to-screen role? Honestly, I don't think I've seen her on the screen in a long long time, but I might be wrong though. Anyways, it was interesting to see her in that role considering what she went through in the past. A woman whose partner's affair is played out in the British press for everyone to read. Perhaps her own personal experience helped in this role because I thought her acting was excellent, which is something I was struggling with ...

... Rupert Friend! One of my favorite series of all time is Homeland and Rupert Friend plays Peter Quinn in it, a CIA operative. It took me a few episodes to adjust, but to me Rupert Friend is Peter Quinn and not James Whitehouse, a rising-star politician taking advantage of ...

... the blind privilege of the ultra-wealthy. James got everything he wanted and everything was beautiful. The series shows the patterns of power and entitlement that have defined James' entire life and the lives of everyone else around him. This is no life secret - I mean we hear and read about this all the time in real life. Is this maybe why .....

... some politicians believe they are above the law? What is it that they say? "Do as I say, not as I do". Maybe this is why this series is a huge hit. Although it is not based on a real life story, it does tackle and deal with real-life situations. In all honesty, how many times have we heard news stories about politicians and their scandals? Sadly too often, in my opinion. In the past few years, I have heard and read about scandals of corruption, hidden bank accounts, fake EU parliamentary jobs, just to name a few political scandals in France. And of course, sleeping with employees which questions ...

... the issue of consent. James Whitehouse and Olivia Lytton (an employee of his) start an affair and have consensual sex at first, but things turn sour when she claims that she was raped during their last encounter. Acquaintance rape is sexual abuse committed by someone known to the victim. Similar to marital rape, it is very difficult to prove acquaintance rape. But it exists. Anyone has the right to stop sexual activity at any time, regardless of whether they consented or seemed to enjoy what was happening even a few moments before. Simply put, no is no. By the end, we know that James did rape Olivia, but will he ever pay for his crimes? Or does he even recognise his crimes? Sadly, his wife Sophie does and unfortunately makes her ....

... see her husband in a whole new light. As a wife myself, I don't know how I would react to this. Especially with someone you've practically known your whole life, have raised kids with, and lived life with. Not only does Sophie get "slapped in the face"once with the cheating, but it's repetitive, with the rape and then later on the unveiling of old secrets. Sophie has lost herself in this marital relationship, and at what cost? The flashbacks are truth-openers. With each flashback, it seems like Sophie realises all the signs that have been there all along without her actually seeing them. One of the most powerful scene for me was right after one flashback towards the end when she looks at her son and realises what's ahead for him if she stays in this pattern. It's sad.

The part I liked least would be Kate / Holly, who plays the prosecutor. I understand the need for the plot twist - to give a bit of spice to the story. However, I think it's a dangerous game. She knew who he was from the very beginning and her decision put into jeopardy the trial and her professional career. Obviously we know what happens in the end and James isn't convicted and she hasn't been found out so her "secret" didn't affect the trial's decision. But what if her secret had been found? What would have happened then?

What pisses me off most is that as I mentioned earlier, acquaintance rape is so hard to prove in court. So I think that the procedure must be followed to the t. Because if it's not, then it just causes more harm to the victims and the cause. Kate / Holly should have said something from the very beginning and perhaps even testified about her own experience. Put more weight to the case.

It seems that there will be a second season and Kate will be able to take revenge, but unfortunately it won't be for acquaintance rape. It'll be most probably for abuse of power or perjury. What a pity. In the end, I just felt really bad for Olivia. I mean yeah, she had an affair with a married man and that's not cool, but she was also a victim and received no justice.

What did you think of this series?

xoxo Elodie

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