Tuka & Bertie Review: An unexpected story of healing
Written by Medha Gudavalli, CCASA Survivor Task Force member
***SPOILERS FOR TUKA & BERTIE ARE AHEAD***
Lately, I’ve been feeling like the #MeToo movement has been exploited. An article entitled, “Headway or Headlines,” struck accord with me. Are we actually making significant change? Or are capitalist institutions just using #MeToo to make profit?
During this time of doubt, the adult cartoon, “Tuka & Bertie,” unexpectedly flew out of nowhere, depicting sexual assault in the most authentic way. Instead of sensationalizing the act of rape in itself to engage only the morbid curiosity of viewers, “Tuka & Bertie” created a story of hope, resilience, and healing.
“Tuka & Bertie” is Netflix’s newest adult cartoon starring Tiffany Haddish and Ali Wong. The show is a comedy that looks at many salient issues such as alcoholism, sex, commitment, and sexual assault without making it a gimmick. Throughout the season, Bertie (Ali Wong) deals with sex harassment in the work place. This coincides with some confusing feelings towards power in the context of sex like unexpectedly crying when her boyfriend Speckles (Steven Yeun) is “bossing her around” during foreplay that was originally her enthusiastic request. Towards the end of the season, it is revealed that Bertie is a survivor of child sex assault.
Instead of focusing on what most TV shows focus on, the sex assault act in itself, or reporting to the police, or the emotional breakdown of the victim, it focuses on healing and community. Without having to disclose to anyone other than her best friend Tuka, Bertie’s community supports and empowers her. Tuka and Coach Merideth help her complete the long-distance swim she missed as child due to the assault; Tuka accompanies Bertie in telling off Chef Pete (who sexually harassed her) without doing it for her; the WTUS (women taking up space) group spreads the word about her former boss’s sexual harassment; Speckles, Tuka, and Bertie’s neighbors help her launch her pastry business.
This was so touching to see and felt so authentic. It showed a different story that is normally depicted in the mainstream media, a story about a victim who is more than their victimhood. It showed a woman who is a businesswoman, a friend, a girlfriend, an amateur chef, a feminist, navigating this #MeToo world as a survivor.
Thank you Lisa Hanawalt, Ali Wong, and Tiffany Haddish for making this and helping me believe that the #MeToo movement is making a lot of headlines but it may be making headway too.