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Nothing seems to have affected the media landscape in so short a time as Netflix’s broad launch into original programming.  With that in mind, David Troy, Adam Eastwood and Heather Woodcock decided to start a show where we’d challenge ourselves to discuss as many Netflix Original Series and Films as we can find the time to binge.

Whether it’s dramas like House of Cards, Narcos, Marco Polo, Daredevil and Jessica Jones, comedies like Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Master of None or Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp or hard-hitting movies and docu-series like Making a Murderer and Beasts of No Nation, we (and a guest-host every week) want to share these viewing experiences with our listeners through this little show of ours.

 

4 comments

  • Thao

    Hi,

    I am writing feedback for the part 2 podcast episode for 13 Reasons Why. I’d like to start off by thanking you all for spending a lot of time analyzing and discussing your thoughts on the show. I can tell that you spent a lot of time thinking about it and had a lot of thoughts to process. I listened to the entire episode and found interest in hearing everyone’s perspectives. I acknowledge that 13 Reasons why is meant to be uncomfortable and not an easy show to talk about. I can only imagine how hard it is to make sure what you say comes across appropriately to the audience , especially on sensitive topics.

    While listening to the podcast episode and even now after finishing it , I’m feeling uncomfortable with comments from the hosts. I understand everyone is entitled to an opinion but I’m concerned that if I’m feeling this way, that other users , especially those who have experienced sexual assault, suicidal thoughts and other issues will feel. The only host I did not have an issue with was the man with the deeper voice. He truly emphasized and was the only one who really advocated for Hannah and for issues pertaining to sexual assault–especially on your discussion on Mr Porter which was what disturbed me the most.

    The common theme that disturbed me the most was the pattern in defending characters when they did something that didn’t help out or prevent a sexual assault such as Justin and Mr. Porter and even Clay to an extent. In that episode about Clay’s tape, instead of focusing on the fact that Hannah was traumatized from getting intimate with Clay because of her experiences with being taking advantage of– you focused on blaming Hannah for dismissing Clay and telling him to get out of the room. I understand that Clay didn’t do anything totally wrong in that moment but Hannah’s experiences were dismissed which is not sensitive to sexual assault survivors.

    The most disturbing part was the analysis on Mr. Porter when a few hosts mentioned they didn’t understand what Mr. Porter said was worthy of a tape. He conducted victim blaming on Hannah and told her to get over it. She has clear suicidal signs and he didn’t do anything about it and tried to cover it up after she died. It doesn’t matter that she couldn’t provide a name and it isn’t up to the survivor to do that. I’m at least glad the host with the deeper voice gave an empathetic and appropriate response, even though he was the only one.

    The last part that made me uncomfortable was the analysis about not understanding why some people belonged on the tapes or that it was hard to tell what led Hannah up to her suicide. Teenage experiences are relative and cant’ be compared to adults as one of you mentioned briefly. With mental illness, the signs aren’t always there and most people who commit suicide try to hide the signs. As a host of mostly male individuals and adults who have not been in high school for awhile, these opinions have a large impact on the audience who may be more impressionable.

    I just wanted to share my feedback with you. Thank you for starting a dialogue and taking the time to watch the show and share your opinions. I will continue listening to your episodes but just wanted to share constructive feedback.

    Sincerely,
    Thao

  • David Troy

    Hi Thao,

    Thank you for the well thought out and constructive feedback on the episode. Javier will certainly be pleased that you two saw eye to eye, particularly on the section dealing with Mr. Porter.

    I would agree that this was a very challenging series to discuss and we all came at it from different angles, particularly the most sensitive sections of the show. I’ll do my best to facilitate discussion by talking about my viewpoints on a few of the characters mentioned.

    Regarding Justin, I feel that a couple of us, including myself, weren’t condoning what he did, but were trying to understand his character arc. Why would someone let that happen to a person he felt he loved? Is he just as bad as Bryce? It’s not an easy answer, because if the answer is no, then you are, to some extent, relieving him of some of his responsibility. On the other hand is anyone as bad as Bryce, who the show takes great pains to portray with no redeeming qualities?

    Mr. Porter is a challenging case because the series does a very good job at making him appear to be not completely incompetent or insensitive. Telling her to ‘get over it’, to me, felt less like a throwaway line than him presenting Hannah with the stark truth that, if she wasn’t willing to come forward with the name of her rapist, then the alternative was to just deal, which, of course, is no option at all. I am curious, though when you say the survivor isn’t required to provide a name, as I’m not an expert on the legalities of the subject. If Mr. Porter had reacted in the ideal manner, what would have been the next steps with Hannah refusing to identify her attacker?

    I do agree with the idea of the victim blaming, though, and Javier made a very good case when he outlined all the questions he asked her. I asked what could he have done differently and received a convincing answer.

    And where he definitely did fail, was in that he didn’t spot the signs that she was contemplating suicide, and that, in her mind, she did have an option, which was to take her own life. He certainly wasn’t a very good guidance counselor, but I had a difficult time regarding him as the ultimate villain of the piece.

    As for Clay, I really don’t feel as though he needs defending. He did the right thing at the party which was to respect Hannah’s wishes. Do I blame her for what happened in the room and afterwards? Definitely not, she was not ready for that intimacy at that moment and told Clay so, and as for what happened afterwards, she definitely was not at fault. It seemed as though Hannah blamed herself, though, which was unfair to both herself and Clay, as he would naturally feel responsible as well. I thought that tape portrayed Hannah as more human and not just a passive victim of all these circumstances, rounding out her character.

    I admit, it is difficult to put myself back in the mind-frame of being in high school (though the series certainly made it quite a bit easier, to an uncomfortable extent) but I believe in Part One we did address that to an extent as well.

    Regarding Mental Illness, I’m curious as to how you feel it was treated in the series. I don’t believe anyone ever discusses the possibility that Hannah was suffering from depression and it’s interesting to wonder if they had, would that have distracted viewers from the very real hell she was living through every day in what is normally thought of as a mundane setting – high school?

    David

  • Thao

    Hi David,

    Thank you for taking the time to respond back to me. I appreciate the lengthy and thorough response.

    With Justin, I believe that understanding why a character makes a bad decision is important and I’m glad that was discussed. (e.g. His loyalty to Bryce, coming from a bad home, etc) I’m glad that no one necessarily condoned his actions and emphasized what he allowed to happen was horrible. Coming from my point of view, it’s hard to emphasize with someone who willingly allowed sexual assault to occur no matter what age he’s at and pressure is going on at the moment. Like you folks, I have had similar thoughts in trying to understand and I think we should be cognizant that these actions are in no way justifiable. On the show, you mentioned that the first tape about Justin where he took a misleading photo and spread rumors may not have been enough to earn him a tape. I’m not sure that is a good analysis because we aren’t the judges to dictate what life experiences can bring someone over the edge.

    I’m glad that Javier saw eye to eye with me and he had a fantastic analysis on Mr. Porter. You are right that getting the name of the perpetrator is technically needed for legal action to occur. However, like Javier mentioned– instead of Mr. Porter making it seem like he had to prepare himself for a long journey of paperwork– he could have provided more empathy. The victim/survivor may not be able to say the perpetrator’s name because they fear for their life or have other reasons. If no legal action can be done, I think that since he was obviously uncomfortable or possibly unequipped to handle it, he could have provided her another resource (e.g. counseling, medical outside the school) and acted more like he believed her rather than asking a lot of questions.

    The way that Mr. Porter treated her (even though he didn’t have any bad intent) made Hannah feel as if there was no hope and that things were partially her fault. This scene was heartbreaking because it truly was Hannah’s last attempt at life because she trusted Mr. Porter to possibly help her. I know that Mr. Porter had no bad intent, a chaotic life, and was possibly not trained enough in certain areas– but his actions on the last day of Hannah’s life and afterwards was when made his character difficult for me to emphasize with. I think that this scene will be good for counselors and school employees to watch in order to learn how to interact with students who may confide in them about the same thing.

    I don’t think that the word depression was ever really used in the show. I’m wondering if it’s in order to make the show more relatable to viewers who may be ashamed to admit they may suffer from depression or have a mental illness. I also wonder whether the producers wanted viewers to know that an individual doesn’t need to have a mental illness or have a history of depression in order to be suicidal. It must have been intentional on the producer’s part and I think it’s open for interpretation with both good and bad sides to it.

    Thao

  • Javier Heredia

    Hi Thao,

    First, like David, I want to thank you for writing to us. We try very hard to put out a show people want to talk about and responses like yours is our main goal.

    When we sit down to review a show we have to break it down into the fundamental components. The key thing to understand is that, unless it’s a documentary, the characters we’re see are all constructs with no ability to choose for themselves. They are meant to do a Thing, and we can only judge whether or not that Thing was done well or poorly.

    Justin’s actions in the first tape was very mild. He took an unflattering photo and bragged about how far he got to his friends. These actions were mild on purpose, and the build up to Mr Porter’s actions coming after Bryce’s crime is no mistake. Each tape was successively a worse act than the last, with exception to Clay’s. This is why we wonder about Justin’s first tape and why the narrative dictates he needs a second tape to justify being on the first tape. When taken in combination with the second tape we see Justin’s true inclusion for being on the tapes: Justin is an enabler for Bryce. The book only mentions the rumors Justin spread, never a picture (the book does predate iPhones after all). So the picture invention is all we have, and Justin is being an asshole for saying and showing what he did, but the key take away is Bryce acting and foreshadowing his actions later.

    On Clay’s tape, we talked about Clay’s actions and not Hannah. We did this because the narrative was about Clay. It was a conscious action to discuss this from Clay’s point of view as that was the point of the episode. We could’ve discussed Hannah’s reactions, and we did very very briefly, but considering we’d been following and wondering about Clay from the beginning we focused on hims same as the writers of the show. If we had ignored that Clay did the right thing and respected Hannah’s wishes, we would’ve missed what Hannah was trying to say and what the writers wanted us to see.

    As for the mental health issues, 13 Reasons Why violates every guideline for discussing suicide in media. You can read those guidelines here: http://www.suicide.org/media-guidelines-for-suicide.html

    If we’re going to discuss 13 Reasons Why from a mental health perspective then we have to acknowledge that it’s a broad failure in that regard. This is why the show (and the book) don’t approach the subject. The story’s purpose is not to say “poor Hannah, if only we could’ve helped her”, but is instead perfectly summarized by Clay: “The way we treat each other and look out for each other. It has to get better somehow.” If we keep the focus on why Hannah did this and what others did to push her over the edge we lose sight of what the show is saying: Any one around us might be Hannah.

    And in the end, that helped drive our review: the show is ostensibly about Hannah but also very much not about Hannah at all. She was a construct created by a writer who needed to give a voice to something he cared about very much. The show is about how his other constructs treated Hannah and how the decisions the writer made were about showing that what we need is more empathy to prevent more heartache.

    Thanks,
    Javier

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