This past week I finished two shows that were the complete opposite of each other in terms of mood and storytelling. Both shows I enjoyed for what they provided but both were frustrating. They both got me thinking but I also realized that my appetite for television has such a huge range. I guess that’s good but it also opens me up to be more critical.
I want to start out with Famous in Love because it’s not as frustrating because my expectations for it isn’t as high. But still, it’s not a top-quality kind of show.
There will be spoilers here so proceed accordingly.
First off, let me tell you why I even considered watching the show (which I didn’t even know was based off a book). Bella Thorne was my primary reason. I remembered her first start on Disney Channel a while back and she’s an enigma to me. She’s attractive but isn’t gaining much attention in Hollywood as I thought she would. Was it her Disney upbringing? Was it because she has dyslexia and is bisexual that the famous Hollywood scene had not warmed up to her? Or maybe is it because she is still a very unseasoned actor? Curiosity got me.
That’s how it usually gets me with these shows. I. Marlene King is behind this and with me being a Pretty Little Liars fan, I figured this might be something that I may like too. Also, I do have a soft spot for some awful drama television. This looked like a show that would deliver me that.
And it did.
The story line proceeds as follows.
This has all the signs of frustration. And it’s a story that we have all seen before. One friend falls into fame and everything around her goes crazy. She changes. Friendships change. New people entire lives. It’s Hollywood, so let the backstabbing and deviant ways begin!
What frustrates me about this show is that there are too many things going on. There are affairs, secrets, lies and an unbelievable amount of balancing school and acting for Paige (the main character) to handle. Is this what it is really like in Hollywood? I feel that it is a cop-out show to have everything filmed essentially at WB Studios so the effort and resources aren’t that high. Maybe that helps production where more money can go towards something else?
But I watched this show because I am into these things. I know it’s not the highest of quality shows but man I need some awfulness. The acting is decent but I already feel that the story they are telling is not that exciting. I am shocked that a second season is already in the works. I was more shocked all episodes were made available on Hulu.
Either way, it’s a decent show but I wouldn’t really recommend it to anyone. There are so many things going at once it feels like they need to slow down. It feels rushed for a 10-episode first season. I hope season two isn’t so hectic.
Now it’s time to talk about a show that I think provided a lot of great quality but has garnered a lot of press both positive and negative. This is 13 Reasons Why.
I didn’t even know what the show was about but I heard the big buzz about it. Then I found Selena Gomez was behind it. I also found out that it was like a mystery that needed to be solved. Then I found out it was about suicide and it really got me.
The topic of suicide is a big thing for me because every time I hear about it, I always wondered why someone would go that far. I have never been at any point of my life where suicide was a serious consideration. I thought about it in passing and that was it. But for someone to seriously consider it and go through with it, I always want to know why. With mental health and abuse being more of a prominent topic of discussion, especially with teenagers, it’s something that we are all aware of these days.
So the show discusses a myriad of topics. They talk about suicide. They talk about bullying. They talk about alcohol and drug abuse. They talk about sexual identity. They talk about rape. They talk about family dynamics. They talk about broken friendships. They talk about a ton of things.
At first I wondered what changed. When I was in high school, this kind of behavior was not that big. But as the times change, so do the people and the way we treat each other. Is this really what teenage life is like now?
I can’t help but come away from this show frustrated. I want to first and foremost say that this is a good show. The purpose of this show is to help tell a story that people like me might not know about teenagers. It is pretty graphic (rape and suicide scenes made me real uncomfortable) but it was told that way so we can really fully understand what is really going on. For me, I learned a lot. I am much more knowledgeable because of it.
But the show has its flaws. Its biggest and most common critique is that it makes suicide sound OK. That it glorifies it. That suicide is an option for escape.
I can understand both sides of this argument. On one end, the story had to be told this way so we can understand how someone can go that route and ways we can help prevent it. But on the other side, there were so many factors that it made Hannah (the main character) receive all this attention in death. I don’t know if this show is doing good or harm to the discussion. I think it’s doing both.
It took me a while to finish this show after I started because each episode is so heavy. By the end, I disliked every single character on the show because everything was so extreme. But maybe this is the reality I didn’t know existed. But the frustration stems from how awful teenagers are. How awful that nobody was aware. It is awful that teachers are so oblivious to things, especially Mr. Porter. Is this the ugly world we live in? And if it is, is this the best way we can tell the world about it?
What’s tough to take in is that there were no solutions. We had everything happen during the show and it just kept adding on and on. The show probably triggered a lot of people who have been victims of rape. People who have had abusive parents. People how have had drinking or drug issues. People who have been through the road of mental health and suicide. It’s a lot to take and I didn’t know it would be that intense until I got to those scenes. That suicide scene was so tough for me I actually skipped it. I couldn’t watch it.
It’s frustrating that none of the characters in the show were good people. They were flawed, but that’s just some awfulness in each of them. It’s a sad story. And the message sent is mixed and uncertain. Just like the feeling that remains today with these things teenagers deal with daily.
I would not recommend either of these shows to anyone unless they know fully well what they are getting into or want to see. One gave me an escape from reality into a world that was so crazy and far-fetched. The other was way too real that it welcomed me into a reality that I didn’t even know. Both left me frustrated and I am not sure if I want more. But I probably will look for the next seasons because these shows are still on my mind. I want to see where the story continues.