Mike Tyson is accused, put on trial and convicted of rape in episode five of the Hulu and Disney+ Original Series, “Mike.” We learn about the fateful night when a beauty contestant from Rhode Island claims Tyson assaulted her in his hotel room, the troubles she faced as she reported what happened, the public response as many rushed to Tyson’s defense while others rushed to hers, and the trial that ends with Tyson being convicted and his accuser giving only one interview about the incident before disappearing from the public eye.
The series shift tonally here as we see the events from the view of Desiree Washington and not Mike Tyson. Washington maintains that Tyson approached her at the pageant, called her hotel room and invited her out, told her he needed to stop by his room to get something really quickly and then forced himself on her. We learn that she went to a doctor, and he confirmed the injuries she suffered could only be caused by forced sexual intercourse; we see her struggles and her family’s struggles as she identifies Tyson as her rapist; we watch as Tyson’s attorneys try to paint her as a gold digger who engaged in consensual sex; and we see the relief from her and the shock from Tyson as he is convicted of the crime.
This episode had to be difficult for the creators to make. Rape and sexual assault are very difficult subjects to properly address in television or film. It’s odd that they moved from Tyson’s perspective after the first four episodes, but it makes some sense. If presented from Tyson’s perspective, Washington would be presented as the woman who took down a successful black man at the height of his fame. That’s certainly how the show makes it clear that Don King and Louis Farrakhan felt. From Washington’s perspective, we see the trauma victims go through. It’s the correct choice given Tyson was convicted, but certainly one that his supporters might take an issue with as he continues to deny any wrongdoing to this day. I wasn’t there that night, and I have no clue what actually happened, but given Desiree Washington took part in only one interview after the trial and has refused every book deal presented to her to discuss that night, I’m inclined to believe her over Tyson.
This is the most powerful episode of this series so far. It shows trauma and grief and makes you want to reach out and help any victims of rape or sexual assault. The episode ends with a slate proving a number for assistance for anyone who may have been a victim. That’s the right move. I think they handled the situation very delicately and I applaud them for that. It can’t have been easy, but it’s an important part of both Tyson’s and Washington’s stories. Now the show moves to Tyson’s incarceration, return to boxing and life after. I know a lot of what happens, and Tyson has presented himself in a charming way, overall, since his incident with Evander Holyfield but this episode reminds us why it’s so hard to root for him.
Ranking: 4.5 stars
What did you think of this episode of “Mike?”