Finally Watched It: “13 Reasons Why”

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Everyone and their mother was telling me to watch this so I took a deep breath and dove in.

This series is about teenager Clay Jensen, who receives 13 audiotapes from his friend and not so secret crush, Hannah Baker, after she killed herself. I have read reviews before writing this – good and bad – and here’s my take on it. I found this series intensely compelling and triggering for me in the same turn. Having grappled with depression, suicide, and bullying in the past; I could identify with a lot of what Hannah was going through. I have heard that this series glorifies suicide and makes Hannah out to be some tortured special princess because she killed herself and selfish for taking out so much time and effort to make those tapes in the first place. To that I say; you missed the point.

To write her off as selfish for making the tapes is on the same level of dismissive as the people who disrespected and ignored her feelings to put her in this situation in the first place. “Oh, she just wants attention.” Well, DUH she wants attention! She wanted help and people failed her! And how many people sadly take Hannah’s path and leave people asking why? The whole point of the show is to SHOW WHY. It’s like Juno: if she doesn’t do this, there is no show.

As for glorifying suicide? To me, the entire show just ached with the loss of this girl. The gnawing sadness of Hannah’s death doesn’t seem beautiful to me. It’s heartbreaking. I’ve seen plenty of manga and anime that have the same kind of thing (Suicide Island, for one) and tackling this subject is never going to be pretty or easy. It’s like movies about rape; you’re not going to make any one comfortable or happy and they shouldn’t be (take Irreversible for example… But I refuse to watch it for the graphic scene because I can’t take it). I will freely admit, I flinched at Hannah’s final scene and turned away. I just couldn’t…

That being said, I do have a couple complaints. How many fucking adults with no brain cells are around this girl!? Kids are kids; sometimes they just don’t wanna say or can’t say what they feel may be going on but if all of a sudden my kid lopped off all her hair, I would have some damn questions! Along that same vein, what gypsy did Hannah piss off to have so many terrible things to go wrong so fast!? (That’s a Thinner reference for those who don’t get it…) It may sound insensitive of me but WOW. It’s like they used the character of Hannah to bullet point every single bad thing that could possibly happen to a Caucasian teenage girl in America. What I would have liked to see is SOME of these things addressed and if the show got another season, have ANOTHER girl (or boy) have other things addressed. There don’t always have to be 13 tapes, there could be journal entries, blog posts, paintings, songs; all sorts of ways a kid could express their reasons why. Hell, I say throw an adult in there, too. If there will be multiple seasons of this, there are so many ways this concept can be explored.

All in all, I’m not sorry I watched it but it took an entire Thomas Sanders playlist to cheer me up in order to sleep well. It’s the kind of thing that, as a parent, all I wanted to do was hug my baby close to me. But to say I wasn’t triggered would be a lie. It touched off feelings I battle with every day but I guess it’s best to face those feelings head on and deal with them. And if the show can do that? It must be doing something right.

And if you disagree with me? Remember, this is my OPINION. If you feel motivated to reply, try to do so with some tact and politeness.

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Finally Watched It: “Black Mirror” Season One

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In case you don’t already know what this show is, it’s basically a modern Twilight Zone with each episode telling a completely different story. You can absolutely make the comparison because the issues brought up in the older show (racism, nuclear war, fascism) have been updated to our more modern fears (reality TV, technology overtaking our humanity, cyber-terrorism).

I’m not going to go episode by episode but overall, I’m hooked on this and I think this is a very well written and acted modern counterpart to something like Twilight Zone. It’s topical without being too preachy and taps into some real unease most of the public has these days. All I hear from my friends is “D00d, just WAIT for season two!” so, that will be up next. I’m looking forward to it! I’ma big fan of smartly written entertainment.

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Finally Watched It: “Stranger Things”

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The subject of a series of unethical experiments, Eleven escapes her tormentors and is found by three young boys; Lucas, Dustin, and Mike. But Eleven isn’t the only escapee and with townspeople vanishing, the organization is hunting Eleven down.

That’s a pretty thin synopsis but I don’t wanna even attempt to give anything away. I don’t know what is going on with these little original series these days but WOW, are they impressive. The characters are written so well you relate to them immediately and the flow of this is on point. I won’t give away too much but I will say that the sheriff character in these types of shows can take entire seasons to deduce things but Jim Hopper is on the damn ball. And Winona Ryder as Joyce? She’s just amazing.  Even the kids make these fabulous performances.

The only bad thing about this is just a common writing thing where if the characters provided simple explanations, some misunderstandings would be avoided but that’s just a very, VERY minor gripe.

I get some serious Outer Limits, Twin Peaks vibes from this show and it trips my nostalgia switch being set in the early 80’s. This is yet another series where I am so glad I listened to people when they insisted I watch it. Completely worth my time and I look forward to season 2.

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Finally Watched It: “Luke Cage” Season 1

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I finished off Jessica Jones and went right into Luke Cage. Totally worth it.

If you don’t know already, this series follows former convict, Luke Cage, trying to make a life for himself in Harlem. When gang violence takes the live of someone he loves, he puts his super-human strength and impenetrable skin to use in order to bring order to the streets.

First off? AWESOME to see so many of my fellow African Americans on screen playing major roles (as good or bad guys or the creators themselves) in a hit series. Second, I have to say how awesome to see so many powerful, competent women on screen; again, as good and bad guys! And everyone is written so well, you connect with these characters from the very start.

I was hooked from start up until the final battle when I see this:

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Sorry, I burst out laughing. And it’s NOT the character’s fault! Despite having a major case of monologuing (is this gonna be a thing now? Between Diamondback and Negan, I am SO done with talking…), there was such buildup to the final face off between Luke and Diamondback that when he shows up in that outfit my first reaction was “What the fuck is this bootleg Judge Dredd bullshit and why is there a Roomba on his back?!” Any intimidation factor was instantly lost on me and I kept giggling whenever I looked at him. Hate on me if you want, but that get up is funny as hell.

Other than that and me wanting to just glomp on to Cage all the time (who wouldn’t wanna hug that gorgeous man…), this is a fantastic show. The writing, the acting, the music; all of it well thought out, contemporary, and ingenious. Sign me up for a Luke Cage hoodie because I am pumped for season two.

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Finally Watched It: “Jessica Jones” Season 1

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I know I said I wouldn’t do TV shows until I had more movies knocked off my very, VERY long list but since I have been threatened with various acts of violence, I made time for this show.

If you don’t know, this show is about the alcoholic super powered private investigator, Jessica Jones and her dealings with the twisted Killgrave. The first season follows her attempts to bring him down and reveals their sordid and twisted past.

I have to say with writing and story telling like this, it’s no wonder the movie industry is worried about losing money. Wickedly fun, beautifully flawed, and achingly sad all at the same time, this series impressed me nearly from start to finish. If I had any criticism, it would be that it started to be almost comical how often Killgrave would get away. Yes, I know this sort of show needs to have a villain that is there for at least one season but the plot points to keep him at large started to get a bit ridiculous. Also, the character motivations baffled me sometimes. Not to spoil too much but is it really worth freeing a murdering sociopath to solve your first-world problems? No. No, it is not.

I did LOVE how they handled how Jessica dealt with surviving abuse. I identified with a great deal of it except for the drinking. Girl, we need to get you some more fancy booze. Try Black Seal 151. More suited to killing zombies than human consumption (in my opinion) but you’re ‘gifted’ so you can take it.

Other than that, top notch! This series crosses over with Luke Cage so, I’ll be writing about that one next.

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