Class, victim credibility and the Pygmalion problem in real crime dramas Three Girls and Unbelieveable

Research output: Chapter in Book/Published conference outputChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


This chapter considers the classed dimensions of victim credibility as they are depicted in the real crime TV drama series Three Girls (BBC, 2017) and Unbelieveable (Netflix, 2019). While both series come from different television stables and the real crimes they interrogate are different, they both share an important thread in that the victims were initially not believed because of their association with “risky” and chaotic lifestyles. Following work that draws attention to the intersectional dynamics of sexual assault, this chapter traces the way in which the series approach the issue of victim credibility. Both series detail how the victims were not believed, how forms of testimony are classed and show how judgement by representatives of the state visits another trauma upon the raped victim. The chapter goes on to discuss what we might mean by the “inherent” characteristics of “unbelieveability” and shows how the series generate victim hierarchies around appropriate victimhood. However, in the narrative affordances oftelevisual resolution, both series ultimately reproduce versions of the Pygmalion narrative that attach recovery from trauma to individualised images of social mobility that ultimately mark the working-class victim as embodying the crime. The chapter argues that this prevailing narrative needs undoing so that we can pay adequate attention to the material socio-economic contexts of rape and appropriately amplify the classed voice.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRoutledge Companion to Gender, Media and Violence
EditorsKaren Boyle, Susan Berridge
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781000919349
Publication statusPublished - 25 Aug 2023


  • Class
  • violence
  • TV drama
  • victim credibility
  • pygmalion


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