In Review

Misfits by Michaela Coel: what the critics are saying

Coel lays out her struggles as a ‘black working-class woman’ in an industry dominated by white middle-class men

Michaela Coel

This “small book” is based on Michaela Coel’s 2018 MacTaggart Lecture to “the bigwigs of the television industry”, said Fiona Sturges in The Guardian.

In it, the actor and screenwriter – best known for her 2020 series I May Destroy You – laid out her struggles as a “black working-class woman” in an industry dominated by white middle-class men. She detailed the racism she’d encountered, and the complacency of TV executives, who so often dismissed her concerns with the words “that’s the way it is”.

Although intended as a wake-up call to “those in charge of our television networks”, the lecture will be interesting to non-specialists for its “startling glimpse into the mind and practices of a remarkable talent”.

Captivating and funny as Coel’s lecture was, I’m not sure it should have been turned into a book, said Tomiwa Owolade in the London Evening Standard. You can watch it in its entirety on YouTube; this repackaging, with a brief introduction and afterword, “adds nothing worthwhile”.

I disagree, said Rosie Kinchen in The Sunday Times. Coel’s voice – “razor-sharp” and very funny – deserves to reach the widest possible audience. She herself may be less of an outsider these days – but her lecture’s message still feels relevant.

Ebury 128pp £9.99; The Week Bookshop £7.99

Misfits book cover
The Week Bookshop

To order this title or any other book in print, visit theweekbookshop.co.uk, or speak to a bookseller on 020-3176 3835. Opening times: Monday to Saturday 9am-5.30pm and Sunday 10am-4pm.

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