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Michaela Coel on Grounded with Louis Theroux

Louis Theroux speaks to Michaela Coel in the second series of his podcast

The pair discuss sexual consent, I May Destroy You, and the ‘post-writum depression’ that came after its success

In April, a month after the UK went into lockdown, Louis Theroux announced that he was working on a podcast, interviewing some of the high profile figures he’s always wanted to speak to. Fast-forward just seven months, and he’s already releasing a second series.

First up on the line-up is Michaela Coel, whose powerful drama, I May Destroy You, has been one of the breakout shows of 2020. Speaking on Grounded with Louis Theroux about its success, Coel said: “Because of the pandemic, I almost felt like I was watching this show take a whole new life as it was morphing and growing and becoming a public show. I also felt like a spectator – in a good way! It made me able to appreciate the success of the show without connecting it to myself.”

The writer also addressed the “post-writum depression” she felt after the series aired. “I’m just grieving,” she explained. “I’m not even busy. I’m just sat here, running, walking, meditating. I am really just in that artist depression-y bit. I’ll be out soon, I just need to go through it a little bit.”

In the hour-long chat, the pair also discuss sexual consent, which is at the heart of I May Destroy You. Coel tells Theroux the story of her assault in 2016 – off which the show is based – revealing: “As I continue to think about it, I realise that this wasn’t just a me thing; that there are so many different ways that this theft of consent happens. Sometimes it’s like a magic trick and it leaves the person thinking, ‘How did that happen? Something feels wrong’.”

She continued: “When you really look at the aftermath of dealing with these blurry thefts of consent, it can be really damaging. It can have quite subtle long-term effects. I wanted to explore that in the hope that I might also grow past or through some of the damage.”

The first season of Grounded with Louis Theroux saw the documentarian video chat with the likes of Rose McGowan, Helena Bonham Carter, and Lenny Henry. Last week, Theroux announced that guests on series two will include Sia, actor Ruby Wax, director Oliver Stone, and comedian Frankie Boyle.

Speaking to Dazed in April, the journalist said of the virtual series: “I’m a bit more of a tour guide in these ones, as opposed to a therapist inquisitor. It’s a conversation, I’m not wandering around (like in previous documentaries), and we’re not having to spend days and days together. For me, it’s more enjoyable because I don’t feel like we’re asking something cheeky of our guests.” 

Listen to Michaela Coel on Grounded with Louis Theroux here.