There have been a lot of moments on “UnReal” where a person appearing on or producing the show-within-a-show “Everlasting” has crossed the line, but none more so than Maya’s (Natasha Wilson) rape at the hands of suitor Adam’s (Freddie Stroma) friend Roger (Tom Brittney).
Wilson tells Zap2it that even though it wasn’t shown on screen, Maya was raped. But she and the “UnReal” writers wanted to convey a different kind of rape situation.
“We wanted to make sure it wasn’t an aggressive rape situation, because we wanted to demonstrate that it can occur even when someone says no but they don’t say it like, ‘NO!’, they say, ‘No, no, I’m really not, this isn’t what I …’.” Wilson explains. “[Maya] was raped, she was totally taken advantage of. Her being drunk was completely exploited.”
In the context of “Everlasting,” Maya was feeling vulnerable and in danger of being eliminated. A producer was able to exploit those feelings and get Maya to think it was her fault that Adam wasn’t interested and she needed to do more.
“Maya really believed that it was on her [to do more], that it was her fault because she wasn’t outgoing enough … she was withholding herself, she was withholding who she was. She wasn’t communicating sexually [like the other contestants were],” says Wilson, “and because of that blame, [producer] Shia was able to exploit that vulnerability and have her drink a lot.”
Of course, being drunk isn’t grounds for rape. And Roger didn’t even seem to think what he did was wrong. “He felt completely entitled,” says Wilson. “He even said, ‘What? These girls signed up for this.”
The after-effects have not been easy on Maya. “It ended up killing her inside,” says Wilson. “It was a matter that no one really spoke about, which is just exactly what happens with sexual abuse in general, in normal life. A lot of people just pretend it didn’t happen — they’re ashamed of it, they feel like they’re to blame or it’s their fault somehow.”
When producer Rachel (Shiri Appleby) tried to raise the alarm about what had really happened between Maya and Roger, it was Maya herself who kind of shot Rachel down, which Wilson says is another sad by-product of when sexual assaults happen in real life. “She’s already so embarrassed and her dignity is already shot, so she just wants to put it out of her mind. … She was just so numb after it happened,” says Wilson.
But it’s been eating away at Maya and viewers will see how much she is still affected on the next episode.
“UnReal” airs Mondays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Lifetime.