Had Rose McGowan been born with anything other than her trademark tenacity bubbling deep within her, it’s possible her new docuseries, Citizen Rose, might have shied politely away from the depths of controversy that her allegations against Harvey Weinstein have created in her own life. But she is not timid, and her E! project, premiering with a two-hour special Jan. 30, followed by four episodes in the spring, holds nothing back.

The show is a full-fledged assault on what the Charmed alum calls the “cult of Hollywood” and its power brokers. Of course, one might expect this coming from McGowan, who throughout her career has been an outspoken advocate for women’s rights. “I’m really just trying to stop international rapists and child molesters,” she bluntly told a panel earlier this month during a Television Critics Association press event.

But then again, some documentaries and their subjects make similarly bold claims without backing them up. In L.A., members of the media are constantly invited to one event or another about a show, film or book that promises to be breathtaking or revolutionary. These intricately coordinated affairs are often perfectly arranged publicity moments—with themed desserts, cute swag and social media ready activations.

As the Citizen Rose premiere reveals more of Rose McGowan’s character, you realize she could be your friend.

Not so for the screening of McGowan’s documentary, which was held last week at the London Hotel in West Hollywood. A small cocktail reception preceded it, but lacked all of the familiar tropes that are typically the hallmarks of splashier affairs. Indeed, a documentary about sexual assault isn’t quite something to celebrate with themed desserts; the actual footage itself has enough substance to unpack.

Yes, the story is a wild one that, by McGowan’s own admission, at times seems unbelievable. It follows the pivotal moments of the actress’ journey to bring Weinstein, whom she calls “the monster,” to justice. In the span of just 10 days, McGowan is named Time’s “Person of the Year” for this work, and is also arrested after, as she claims, spies of Weinstein’s planted narcotics on her belongings.

The journey is clearly not easy for McGowan. While battling “the monster”—Weinstein’s name has been painstakingly blurred throughout the pilot—she was also writing a book about her experience and coming to terms with the way Hollywood has affected her and her family. (Her memoir, Brave, is available in stores today.)

“I kept rattling the cage,” McGowan says in the first episode. “But the power structure does not like its cage rattled.”

But, as she explained during the TCA panel, the documentary is “not just a show about women. It’s about humanity and freeing your mind and looking at things differently.” She’s hoping viewers will consider this perspective: The media has made her seem crazy. But, she asks, why? Who has been crafting the messages you receive?

“I kept rattling the cage,” McGowan says in the first episode. “But the power structure does not like its cage rattled.”

It’s a concept that seems worth asking since, as the two-hour premiere reveals more of McGowan’s character, you realize she could be your friend. There’s the time when McGowan purchases a copy of the New York Times at a convenience store, with a story about her on the front page. The store clerk followers her outside to tell her she made his spirit happy in such a genuine way that it deserves a laugh for its sweetness.

“You know, I never understood guys who do that,” the clerk says. “You know, why? What fun is that?” Replies McGowan, “It’s about power.”

Then, there’s the cell video of McGowan predicting, after being stopped by a traffic cop, that he’ll come back to the car and inform her there’s a warrant out for her arrest. “There’s a warrant out for your arrest,” he says just a beat later. You can imagine yourself in the passenger seat beside her.

In another scene, you see her brother trying to gently comfort her when she cries over a memory of their dad. And then there’s her mom explaining the paintings in her house and playing with the dog.

There are conversations with her girlfriends and other Weinstein accusers where McGowan is strong, angry and searching for justice. There’s the drive to the magistrate’s where McGowan, unable to find any other legal recourse, must turn herself in on the narcotic charge she vehemently denies.

Plainly put, McGowan could be any woman you know. “I am brave,” says McGowan to a crowd of supporters, “and I am you.”


Citizen Rose premieres Tuesday, Jan. 30, at 8 p.m. on E!