REVIEW: SCREAM: RESURRECTION

Scream: The TV Series (2015)

 

Starring

RJ Cyler (Power Rangers)
Jessica Sula (Split)
Giorgia Whigham (The Punisher)
Christopher Jordan (Everything Must Go)
Tyga (Boo! A Madea Halloween)
Tyler Posey (Truth or Dare)
Keke Palmer (Scream Queens)
Giullian Yao Gioiello (Iron Fist)
Gideon Emery (Teen Wolf)

Scream: The TV Series (2015)RECURRING/ NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Mary J. Blige (Rock of Ages)
Nash Grier (The Deleted)
Patrick Johnson (Sabotage)
Paris Jackson (Gringo)
Tony Todd (Candyman)
Kathleen Hogan (Conra Kai)
D.C. Young Fly (Armed)
Terrence Jenkins (Burlesque)
Roger Jackson (The Powerpuff Girls)
Robert Pralgo (The Vampire Diaries)

“Scream: The TV Series” was never a big hit over at MTV, both in ratings and with critics’ reviews. Due to its struggles, it was announced that the third season would see a hard reboot with a completely new set of cast and characters brought in to introduce a brand new story-line. The third season was completed after several re-shoots, but then it sat on the shelves in Hollywood for nearly three years due to the Harvey Weinstein scandal. Honestly, all hope was lost that fans of the television show or Wes Craven’s four part Scream movie series would see the show again, but then out of nowhere VH1 bought the rights to the show and dropped the six-episode third season in a three-night event spectacular.Paris Jackson in Scream: The TV Series (2015)Now going forward as Scream: Resurrection under different showrunners and producers – including Scream 1 through 4’s Cathy Konrad and Marianne Maddalena – Scream: Resurrection finds the local football star, Deion, as ghosts from his past emerge to kill him and his friends. When he was just a child on Halloween night, a man with a hook killed his brother, and the events of that night have haunted him ever since. Leading up to the anniversary of the murder, someone dressed as Ghostface begins targeting Deion and his closest classmates. The teens are then forced to work together and follow the rules if they hope to survive this scary movie.Keke Palmer in Scream: The TV Series (2015)RJ Cyler (Power Rangers), Jessica Sula (Split), Giorgia Whigham (“The Punisher”), KeKe Palmer (“Scream Queens”), Christopher Jordan Wallace (Notorious), Guillian Yao Gioiello (“The Carrie Diaries”) and Roger Jackson reprising the role of Ghostface star in Scream: Resurrection with Tyga (rapper: 2009’s Bedrock), Mary J. Blige (9x Grammy Award winning singer), Gideon Emery (“Teen Wolf”), Tony Todd (Candy Man), Tyler Posey (“Teen Wolf”) and Paris Jackson (Michael Jackson’s daughter) appearing in supporting roles. I think the biggest question anyone reading this overview has is: how is Ghostface introduced and does he have a connection to the Scream movies? Well, the original Ghostface costume returns – the previous seasons used a weird sex doll version – and better yet, the original voice of Ghostface returns, too, however, he/she has no relation to the material in the Scream movies.When Deion and his brother are trick or treating as kids, his brother is wearing the Ghostface Halloween costume when he was murdered. Naturally, the killer dons the same costume to mess with Deion throughout Scream: Resurrection. This was a clever way of re-introducing the iconic costume to younger horror fans while easily avoiding the conflict of making it relate-able to the plight of Sydney Prescott. As far as characters go, my favorites were Beth (Giorgia) and Becky (Jackson), although the latter was used so sparingly. I had trouble investing my energy in Deion (RJ) because I didn’t believe in him as the hero.William Scharpf in Scream: The TV Series (2015)Scream: Resurrection also hits a minor road bump at the start because it introduces its own urban legend – The Hookman (played by Tony Todd). Having a Candy Man/I Know What You Did Last Summer type of character in the Scream universe was a little cluttered, but ultimately Tony Todd and Ghostface have an epic battle in a junkyard that is the horror battle royal we’ve all been waiting for since Freddy vs Jason. Also to its repulsion, Scream: Resurrection refers to its central characters as the Deadfast Club (a Breakfast Club parody) with each character matching one of the roles in the 1985 classic. Two of the characters, Kym (KeKe) and Amir (Christopher), are incredibly annoying and then you have a third, Liv (Jessica), who’s so wooden and disconnected from the violence that it hurts the viewer and their overall viewing experience. I don’t fault the actors at all because they have extensive resumes and have turned in great performances in the past. Scream: The TV Series (2015)I blame the sloppy writing and unenthusiastic production team for these blunders. The writing is terrible, even worse than the previous seasons, and the characters’ train of thought and emotions fly all over the place like loose canons, or they’re dead inside and a couple more takes should have been filmed for a better effect. The writing literally made me want to scream my face off, pun intended. You should see how the teens talk about the murders half the time, like it’s as commonplace as eating breakfast every morning. Just terrible.Giorgia Whigham in Scream: The TV Series (2015)Considering Scream: Resurrection is aimed at teens, several romances bloom this season, much like in the previous two. One of the main character’s dad is a big time police officer in town, closely following the outline of “Scream: The TV Series,” but Scream: Resurrection does carve out its own path on occasion. This can be seen in the frequent nightmares and visions that Deion experiences where he or one of his friends is killed by Ghostface, and when the teens decide to take the fight to the killer before one of them gets picked off. Racism, poverty and class discrimination are also heavily explored in Scream: Resurrection due to a more urban setting. One of the biggest pitfalls Scream: Resurrection makes, much like the two entries before it, is its use of throwaway kills. Over the course of the six-episode season, nine victims fall victim to Ghostface, and they’re done so by use of various instruments including needles, trash compactors and lots of fire.Jessica Sula in Scream: The TV Series (2015)While it’s nice to see Ghostface using other weapons, something he rarely did in the Scream movies, I wish he was using these weapons on characters with some sort of worth. Three of the victims could barely be considered characters, another three only had about five minutes of air-time and the last three were part of The Deadfast Club or someone close to them. Only having three dead main or supporting characters packed no emotional punch what-so-ever; not that you’re actually going to care about any of them.Giorgia Whigham in Scream: The TV Series (2015)With one really beautiful visual, one awesome death scene, and a lot of great locations, Scream: Resurrection leaves a lot to be desired. It has modest production value and it tried to do something different than the first two seasons on MTV, but it’s still kind of a shitfest. An abbreviated season that was pushed out in a three night event was a smart timesaver on VH1’s part, but the whole thing still seems unnecessary.Nothing in Scream: Resurrection is actually scary and the writing, and the performances that it births, are absolutely dreadful. Come to think of it, they’re the only frightening thing in the whole show. Not to mention the killer’s motive of “watching scary movies wasn’t enough anymore, I wanted to be in one,” was kind of a let down. I was hoping for more bite in their reveal. Bringing back the original Ghostface costume and voice actor was a welcomed idea, but the rest of Scream: Resurrection was so bad that it took away from this nostalgic effect. And again, Ghostface’s presence wasn’t enough to get fans invigorated in a script that was dead on arrival. I saw the live viewership numbers for episode one (767,000) and episode two (627,000) and I don’t think the ratings picked up after horror fans saw how bad this was. To its favor, though, these numbers are more than double what “Scream: The TV Series” was averaging in season two. Still, I don’t think anyone’s going to rush to buy this one when it’s inevitably released to Blu-ray/DVD this Fall. Another wasted opportunity in the Scream franchise, I think it’s time to put this adaption to rest and leave it there forever.

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REVIEW: THE PUNISHER – SEASON 2

Jon Bernthal in The Punisher (2017)

Starring

Jon Bernthal (The Accountant)
Ben Barnes (Westworld)
Amber Rose Revah (The Devil’s Double)
Jason R. Moore (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice)
Josh Stewart (No Ordinary Family)
Floriana Lima (Supergirl)
Giorgia Whigham (13 Reasons Why)
Deborah Ann Woll (Mother’s Day)

Ben Barnes in The Punisher (2017)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Royce Johnson (Demolition)
Tony Plana (Ugly Betty)
Alexa Davalos (Clash of The Titans)
Corbin Bernsen (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang)
Annette O’Toole (Smallville)
Ilia Volok (Power Rangers Wild Force)

Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (Limitless TV)

Rob Morgan (Stranger Things)

Frank Castle doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who gets out to the movies very often, so we’ll probably never know what he thought about Star Wars: The Last Jedi. But you have to assume he’d identify with Kylo Ren’s infamous monologue, “Let the past die. Kill it, if you have to. It’s the only way to become who you were meant to be.” That pretty much sums up Frank’s struggle since losing his family in a hail of bullets and transforming himself into a remorseless vigilante.Amber Rose Revah in The Punisher (2017)That same struggle takes on a new form in The Punisher Season 2. Having finally tracked down and punished every single person responsible for the deaths of his family, Frank is finally a free man. But can someone who spent so long being defined by hate and a thirst for revenge actually find peace? Can Frank let his past die and rebuild his life, or is he doomed to forever be defined as the Punisher? It’s a compelling dilemma. But ironically, it’s only when Season 2 clings to the past that it becomes the show it was meant to be.Jon Bernthal in The Punisher (2017)Initially, Season 2 comes across as a major departure from its predecessor. The premiere touches base with Frank (Jon Bernthal) as he aimlessly wanders the Midwest and finds his true calling as a Shooter Jennings groupie. It’s a slow start to the new season, but one that sets the mood nicely. We see Frank coming so close to remembering how to live as a normal human being again, to the point where he even develops a romance with a local bartender. But the fact that Frank so quickly and recklessly throws himself into the first fracas he can find shows that he was only ever waiting for a new mission to come along. If the driving question of Season 2 is whether Frank Castle can find peace, the first episode alone makes it pretty clear that it’ll only be with a gun in his hand.Josh Stewart in The Punisher (2017)The first few episodes of the season attempt to make a fairly clean break from the events, characters, and setting of Season 1. Sure, the show touches base with old favorites like Dinah Madani (Amber Rose Revah) and Billy Russo (Ben Barnes), but the focus in this early part of the season is fixed more on newcomers like wayward teen grifter Amy Bendix (Giorgia Whigham) and former Neo-Nazi-turned-God-fearing assassin, John Pilgrim (Josh Stewart).Jon Bernthal and Jason R. Moore in The Punisher (2017)Unfortunately, it’s here where one of the fundamental flaws of Season 2 becomes apparent. These newcomers struggle to measure up to the strong supporting cast seen in Season 1. Amy initially comes across as an obnoxious, conniving brat, as well as a crude attempt to replace both Karen Page and Micro in one new character. It’s a good four or five episodes into the season before she finally begins to gain some semblance of depth and forges a more believable bond with Frank.Jon Bernthal in The Punisher (2017)Pilgrim (who’s loosely based on a character from the comics called The Mennonite) often shows potential as a man whose struggle to leave his dark past behind him mirrors Frank’s own journey. But both Pilgrim and his handlers, the nefarious right-wing billionaires Anderson (Corbin Bernsen) and Eliza Schultz (Annette O’Toole) are badly underdeveloped. This season creates the impression that showrunner Steve Lightfoot wanted to create a conflict that could rip from as many headlines as possible. You’ve got your right-wing extremists, your shady Russians blackmailing politicians, and your rampant gun violence plaguing Middle America. But none of this material seems especially well thought-out or ever comes together as a satisfying whole. By the time the focus shifts back to New York and the renewed feud between Frank and Billy, the Schultzes and their dirty dealings become a light afterthought.Ben Barnes and Charles Brice in The Punisher (2017)Fortunately, at least Season 2 capitalizes on the foundation established in Season 1 where Billy is concerned. We see Billy Russo, handsome businessman, transform into Jigsaw, psychologically tormented killer. The series only loosely adapts the Jigsaw from the comics, however. Rather than depicting him as a hideously scarred supervillain out for blood the moment he escapes police custody, Season 2 takes a more understated approach to Billy. His scarring is less dramatic. Early on, he wants only to understand his sad lot in life and the skull-clad demon that haunts his dreams.Jon Bernthal and Jason R. Moore in The Punisher (2017)The result of all of this is that Billy remains a sympathetic figure throughout the season. Even when his dark, depraved side begins to burst forth again, we understand the pain and trauma fueling his actions and the profound sense of loss that plagues him. Barnes’ performance improves leaps and bounds over that of Season 1. At times it’s bigger and flashier, but often Barnes is able to bring a wounded subtlety to the character. In some cases, Barnes is even required to act from behind a mask for prolonged periods, showing a gift for using body language and voice to make up for his concealed features. Jigsaw may not quite rival the likes of Wilson Fisk and Kilgrave as the best of Netflix’s Marvel villains, but he’s close enough.The new season also further cements Bernthal’s Frank Castle as the best live-action incarnation of the character to date. To be fair, Bernthal has had far more time to make the character his own than actors like Thomas Jane and Ray Stevenson. Regardless, the show really benefits from that crucial combination of nuanced characterization and Bernthal’s captivating performance. This season is careful never to paint Frank as either hero or villain. If anything, it’s preoccupied with the narrow line separating a soldier like Frank from a craven mercenary like Billy. Bernthal brings a wide range to the role, playing Frank as a roaring powerhouse of rage, a grieving survivor, and various degrees in between those two extremes. Season 2 is also kind to both Revah’s Dinah Madani and Jason R. Moore’s Curtis Holt. Both characters are able to take a more active role in the conflict, including directly joining Frank in his war against Billy. Dinah’s emotional gauntlet is one of the highlights of the season, as she continuously grapples with her profound betrayal from Season 1. As for Curtis, we see his loyalties tested and his life begin to buckle under the weight of being Frank’s friend, culminating in his decision to forge his own path and choose for himself what he believes to be the greatest good.Ben Barnes in The Punisher (2017)Season 2’s fundamental flaw is that it forces viewers to accept the good with the bad. It makes some significant improvements to Season 1’s formula in terms of pacing and action. Following the methodical “Roadhouse Blues,” the season’s narrative quickly builds momentum. Whereas it seemed like Season 1 was content to go multiple episodes without giving Frank a chance to do some punishing, pretty much every chapter of Season 2 includes at least one significant action sequence. There’s also a greater variety to the action this time around, with some fights unfolding as raw, gritty, hand-to-hand brawls and others ending with hundreds of bullets littering the streets of New York. Honestly, the best thing that can be said for Season 2 is that, unlike its predecessor, it didn’t seem overly drawn out at 13 episodes.Jon Bernthal and Giorgia Whigham in The Punisher (2017)But the flip side to this is that Season 2 leaves me wanting so much more in some areas. Again, so much involving the Schultzes, John Pilgrim, and that whole halfhearted conspiracy feels poorly developed. These characters disappear for multiple episodes at a stretch and even when they return, they connect to Frank’s struggle only in the most tenuous ways. More often than not, Pilgrim comes across as a refugee from a completely different show. This season may be more eventful than its predecessor, but it’s also far less focused. Krista Dumont (Floriana Lima) may be the biggest offender of all. This is a character who is obviously a villain lurking in plain sight from her very first appearance. Yet never do the writers make more than the most rudimentary effort to flesh out her background or justify her erratic behavior. She functions in her capacity as someone to shine a brief, fleeting light into Billy Russo’s demented life, and that’s it.Ben Barnes in The Punisher (2017)Looking back at Season 2 as a whole, it was like watching two completely different story pitches being crudely grafted together. And that’s to say nothing of some of the other questionable storytelling choices made over the course of the season. However little this season succeeded in tying together these loose narrative threads, it did at least manage to give characters like Frank, Dinah, Amy, and Billy’s story the closure they needed. “The Whirlwind” is both the most action-packed and most emotionally charged installment of the season. It’s here we see Frank take those final steps toward becoming the Punisher through and through. With little prospect of a Season 3, it’s heartening to see the series end on such a definitive note. The Punisher Season 2 improves on the first in some key ways, establishing a stronger sense of narrative momentum and giving fans much more action. At the same time, the series also falters in other areas. Its narrative is more unfocused, and its new characters struggle to measure up to the old guard. This season does capitalize on the foundation established by Season 1 in terms of the Punisher/Jigsaw rivalry, however, and it leaves Frank Castle in a good place in the finale.

REVIEW: THE ORVILLE – SEASON 1

 

Starring

Seth MacFarlane (Sing)
Adrianne Palicki (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Penny Johsnon Jerald (Star Trek: DS9)
Scott Grimes (American Dad)
Peter Macon (Shameless)
Halston Sage (Goosebumps)
J. Lee (Family Guy)
Mark Jackson (The Royal Today)

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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Victor Garber (Legends of Tomorrow)
Chad Coleman (Arrow)
Norm Macdonald (Jack & Jill)
Larry Joe Campbell (Hall Pass)
Brian George (The Big Bang Theory)
Joel Swetow (Alice In Wonderland)
Jeffrey Tambor (Hellbnoy)
Holland Taylor (Two and a Half Men)
Ron Canada (Wedding Crashers)
Deobia Oparei (Santa Clarita Diet)
Rena Owen (Siren)
Lamont Thompson (Evan Almighty)
Jonathan Adams (Bones)
Robert Knepper (Cult)
Liam Neeson (Chloe)
Rachael MacFarlane (American Dad)
Charlize Theron (The Road)
Kelly Hu (X-Men 2)
Michaela McManus (SEAL Team)
James Horan (Transformers Prime)
Giorgia Whigham (The Punisher)
Steven Culp (Jason Goes To Hell)
Loren Lester (Batman: TAS)
Brian Thompson (The Terminator)
Rob Lowe (Wayne’s World)
Derek Mears (The Flash)
Robert Picardo (Star Trek: DS9)
Molly Hagan (Izombie)
Mike Henry (The Cleveland Show)
Erica Tazel (The Good Fight)

Scott Grimes, Seth MacFarlane, Adrianne Palicki, J. Lee, and Halston Sage in The Orville (2017)When we first heard the news that Seth Macfarlane (Family Guy, Ted, A Million Ways to Die in the West) was making a comedy homage to Star Trek we thought hell yeah. It didn’t take long however before we started thinking it would just be another Family Guy-styled series with cheesy “adult” jokes, something that many people thought would be the case. Now that we’ve seen the first season, I can happily say that this is one of his finest works. It’s hilarious and pays tribute to the classic sci-fi series perfectly.Adrianne Palicki and Jasper McPherson in The Orville (2017)Seth Macfarlane plays Ed Mercer, an up and coming officer in the Planetary Union who has recently separated from his wife after finding her in bed with a blue alien. Shortly after these events, he is given a chance to prove himself after being given the Captain’s chair of The Orville, a mid-level exploratory vessel.Seth MacFarlane and Adrianne Palicki in The Orville (2017)The other members of the crew include Penny Johnson Jerald (24, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Castle) as Dr Claire Finn, Scott Grimes (ER, Band of Brothers, Critters) as Lieutenant Gordon Molloy, Peter Macon (Shameless, Dexter, Supernatural) as Lieutenant Commander Bortus and Halston Sage (How to Rock, Crisis, Paper Towns) as Lieutenant Alara Kitan.Scott Grimes, Seth MacFarlane, Adrianne Palicki, and Mark Jackson in The Orville (2017)The crew is missing a first officer and the Officers of the Planetary Union chose to place Adrianne Palicki (John Wick, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Red Dawn) who plays First Officer Kelly Grayson in the role. The only problem is that she’s Captain Mercer’s ex-wife.Scott Grimes, Seth MacFarlane, Adrianne Palicki, J. Lee, and Halston Sage in The Orville (2017)Whilst this sounds like your typical cheesy sit-com scenario, and it is, this is one of those rare occasions where it just works. The casting in this series is brilliant and the characters play off each other so well that every now and again you forget that this is a homage and actually start to believe that this is a new Star Trek series. The interactions between Mercer and Grayson are first class and the comedy stoic nature of Bortus is inspired. There are also several brilliant interactions between Dr Finn and her long-time admirer, a gelatinous blob named Yaphit, as he tries to seduce her at every opportunity.Adrianne Palicki in The Orville (2017)The Orville tackles some fantastic issues, worthy of any Next Generation episode. From discovering a massive ship floating In space that houses a holographic world that the inhabitants don’t realise isn’t real to getting trapped on a planet ruled by social media where everyday justice is dished out in popularity points which are displayed live on peoples clothing. The latter is probably the best episode of the series and tackles some very real subject matter involving the current state of social media, public opinion and controlled media based on distraction and frivolity and proves The Orville can be both both funny and intelligent at the same time.MV5BMWEyM2ZkYmQtOTQyMS00NjRmLTk5NzItMzYwMmU2NDUzZDg3XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjc5Mjg0NjU@._V1_SY1000_SX1500_AL_I can’t recommend this series enough so you should probably go now and watch it immediately. Oh, and as an added bonus it has been renewed for a second season so it won’t just be a flash in the pan one-off either, which is great news. Essentially if you love comedy and you love Sci-Fi then you can’t go wrong with The Orville!

REVIEW: 13 REASONS WHY – SEASON 1

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MAIN CAST

Dylan Minnette (Don’t Breathe)
Katherine Langford (The Misguided)
Christian Navarro (Bushwick)
Alisha Boe (Paranormal Activity 4)
Brandon Flynn (BrainDead)
Justin Prentice (Izombie)
Miles Heizer (Rails & Ties)
Ross Butler (Riverdale)
Devin Druid (Louder Than Bombs)
Amy Hargreaves (Wonderstruck)
Derek Luke (Biker Boyz)
Kate Walsh (After The Sunset)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Brian d’Arcy James (Smash)
Steven Weber (Izombie)
Keiko Agena (Labor Pains)
Josh Hamilton (J. Edgar)
Tom Everett Scott (Scream: The Series)
Giorgia Whigham (The Punisher)
Robert Gant (Supergirl)
Ajiona Alexus (Runaways)
Michele Selene Ang (Elementary)
Tommy Dorfman (Insatiable)
Mark Pellegrino (Lost)
Sosie Bacon (Scream: The Series)
Tom Maden (All Night)
Andrea Roth (Cloak & Dagger)
Steven Silver (Council of Dads)
Brandon Larracuente (Bright)
Henry Zaga (Trinkets)
Wilson Cruz (The Finder)

High school is a crappy, messy experience for the vast majority of people. That fact has never really changed, even with all the talk of Millennials being more sensitive and open-minded than any generation that preceded them. If anything, high school bullying has only become a more serious problem in recent years with the advent of social media and smartphones. Kids have always had a knack for being horrible to one another, but give them the anonymity of the Internet and a screen to shield themselves from the consequences of their actions, and suddenly you have teenagers driven to suicide thanks to revenge porn or targeted online harassment. 13 Reasons Why is perfectly positioned to explore bullying and high school culture in the post-Facebook era. It’s an often depressing and even uncomfortable show to watch, but that only makes it all the more powerful.Based on the best-selling YA novel from Jay Asher and adapted for television by Brian Yorkey, 13 Reasons Why opens several weeks after the tragic suicide of high school junior Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford). Despite her death, Hannah remains a very active participant in the show’s narrative thanks to copious flashbacks and a narrative device involving a series of cassette tapes she recorded shortly before her suicide. Those tapes fall into the hands of Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette), a socially awkward classmate still struggling to come to terms with Hannah’s death. Each of the series’ 13 episodes revolve around one of these tapes, with Hannah explaining in minute detail how her peers (including Clay himself) drove her to take her own life.It’s a pretty grim premise for a high school drama, even by the standards of death-obsessed YA stories like The Fault in Our Stars and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. And apart from the occasional friendly banter between Clay and Hannah or the recurring joke about Clay and his fellow students being utterly mystified by the concept of cassette tapes, there’s little room for humor here. That can make 13 Reasons Why a pretty emotionally draining experience, particularly towards the end as the pieces really start to fall into place. The final episode in particular features one of the most uncomfortable scenes on TV.Not really a show that encourages binge-watching, in other words. But 13 Reasons Why definitely succeeds in its goal of exploring how countless small and large acts of malice, as well as simple indifference or inattention, can fuel a terrible tragedy. Hannah herself references Chaos Theory in one episode, and it applies to this situation as well as it does an amusement park full of hungry dinosaurs. Hannah encounters just about every form of humiliation high school life can possibly throw at someone – from social isolation and petty gossip to sexual harassment and worse. The outcome is a foregone conclusion, so it’s really more a story about how and why so many of those close to Hannah failed to save her in time.Though a newcomer, Langford shines in the lead role. There’s a bright spark to Hannah that slowly fades over the course of the series as she becomes progressively more worn down by life’s disappointments. Langford embodies that optimism and that profound sadness well. Minnette’s Clay is, by design, a much more stoic and reserved character. In the present, Clay is practically a walking zombie stricken equal helpings of grief, confusion and fear about what he’ll learn when he eventually reaches his tape. Even in the past, Clay is someone who struggles to express his emotions and open up to those around him. Minnette does a fine job in what’s often a difficult role, though the show does rely a little too much on shots of Clay gazing wistfully into the distance as he reminisces about his interactions Hannah.Langford and Minnette are often at their best together, channeling just the right sort of warm but awkward chemistry you’d expect from two teens who can’t quite admit to their feelings for one another. Each new bit of progress in their relationship feels like a major victory, one rendered all the more poignant by the knowledge that their friendship/nascent romance is inherently doomed. There’s a nice sense of mystery and unease to their relationship as well. For a long time, it’s very unclear just how close the two characters were prior to Hannah’s death or what exactly Clay might have done to earn himself a spot among the dreaded thirteen .In general, 13 Reasons Why boasts a strong cast that tends to make the most of the material. Initially, Clay and Hannah’s classmates seem to fit into the usual high school stereotypes – your jocks, your cheerleaders, your preppy overachievers, your slackers, etc. But as each member of the thirteen is fleshed out in turn, they show a real depth and angst that reminds viewers that Hannah was hardly the only one who suffered from loneliness and a deep malaise. Standouts include Alisha Boe as psychologically troubled cheerleader Jessica Davis and Brandon Flynn as her equally tortured boyfriend, Justin Foley. The show places a greater emphasis on adult characters than the novel, with memorable, emotionally charged performances from Kate Walsh as Hannah’s grieving mother and Derek Luke as the school’s embattled counselor.13 Reasons Why is far from the most pleasant viewing experience Netflix has to offer, but it is a very powerful and hard-hitting series. The show explores the build-up to and aftermath of a teen’s tragic suicide with great care, painting a compelling portrait of one teen broken by life and another determined to find answers. The show easily ranks among the best high school dramas of the 21st Century.