Warning: This article contains spoilers from the season 1 finale of Unbelievable.
Over the course of eight episodes, Unbelievable tells a complete story with a concrete ending. The powerful series examines tough subjects like sexual assault and the gap between male and female experiences, especially when it comes to reporting sexual assault, making it one of the most important new shows of 2019. But with Unbelievable telling the entire story of the real-life case laid out in the Pulitzer Prize-winning 2015 ProPublica article upon which the Netflix series is based, what does that mean for a potential second season?
According to showrunner Susannah Grant (the Oscar-nominated writer of Erin Brockovich), there were never any plans to extend the story of Marie (played by Booksmart breakout Kaitlyn Dever) and detectives Grace Rasmussen (Toni Collette) and Karen Duvall (Merritt Wever) beyond one season. “It felt like a very clear, really great story to tell, a really important story to tell, and I just think it reaches a really satisfying resolution,” Grant tells EW. “I don’t feel a desire to tell more of this story; I feel a desire to tell other stories.”
The Netflix drama brings to life the true story of Marie, an 18-year-old woman in Lynwood, Wash., who files a police report hours after she’s been raped by an intruder in her own home. But the investigating detectives and even the adults who were her foster parents doubt her story until she gets overwhelmed and scared, recanting her report; and on top of that, she then gets charged with making a false report by the very same detectives who intimidated her into recanting. Meanwhile, hundreds of miles away in Colorado, Rasmussen and Duvall meet while investigating an eerily similar pair of crimes and partner to catch a potential serial rapist.
By the end of the season 1 finale (spoiler alert!), Rasmussen and Duvall have successfully identified and apprehended Chris McCarthy (Blake Ellis) as the serial rapist, who is then found to be guilty of 28 counts of rape and associated felonies in Colorado and sentenced to 327 1/2 years in prison, the maximum allowed by law. The arrest (and McCarthy’s “trophies” of his rape victims) finally exposes the truth about Marie’s assault, and the harrowing series ends with a phone call between Marie and Duvall, in which the young woman thanks the detective for finally helping her get justice and giving her hope once more.
Grant recognizes that the response to the series has been overwhelmingly positive since it debuted on Netflix this weekend and fans want more. “I gather that there’s been a fondness for that Merritt-Toni duo and people would love to see them again,” she says with a laugh. “And God, I would love to work with them again. But no, I think this story has a wonderful shape to it and I think we ended it the way I wanted to end it, which is great.”
When asked if Unbelievable could work as an anthology series, with a second season telling a new story with new characters, Grant does get excited. “That’s a cool idea!” she says. “This is such a high bar because this case — if there’s some case that I find or come across that has this kind of weight and remarkable storytelling and unbelievable journalism behind it, I would jump at it, absolutely. If there was something that was as exciting to me, I haven’t found it yet, but never say never.”
Unbelievable is currently streaming on Netflix.
- Unbelievable boss explains why Netflix’s adaptation stays true to the real-life case
- Kaitlyn Dever on Unbelievable: ‘The hardest thing I’ve ever done in my career’
- In her first leading TV role, Unbelievable’s Merritt Wever gave everything she had
- Netflix’s Unbelievable is the only True Detective season 4 we need