Premiering tonight with a two-hour episode on E!, Citizen Rose is surgically subversive television that rides notoriety and the guise of a celebrity reality show like a Trojan horse into the heart of contemporary culture. Timed to today’s release of the former Charmed co-star’s book Brave, the Bunim/Murray Productions show is personal, pedantic and powerful.
Which, as I say in my video review, is a way of saying that if you are suspicious of the motivation here, don’t be, or your want to turn away from hard truths, don’t.
Unlike a lot of seemingly similar offerings, Citizen Rose cuts almost straight to the chase in detailing McGowan’s now much-reported allegation that Harvey Weinstein raped her at the Sundance Film Festival in 1997, and the decades of career ostracization that followed. Like the specifics in her book, that is the magnet that will undoubtedly attract many to the series (which continues with four more episodes later this spring), but it is McGowan’s ultimate honesty in unveiling her own complexities amid her pain and pursuit of a greater truth that will hold you.
The docuseries is able to meld the very up-close low-fi of an indie documentary, appearances by the likes of fellow alleged Harvey Weinstein sufferer Asia Argento and journalist Ronan Farrow, and the burgeoning media frenzy. But with all the turmoil Citizen Rose depicts, the most poignant part of tonight’s debut for me was seeing and hearing the support groups and gatherings McGowan attends. If you are looking for a definition of brave, then watch and listen to the women who tell of what they have been through. These often unadorned stories intensely seek to find their own voices and justice out of abuse, anger and reckoning.