1.) What did you think/how did the show make you feel?
Speaking strictly from the artistic/production side of this TV show-I loved it. I could not get through the episodes fast enough, it was so filled with suspense! The actors who play the characters are beautiful and aesthetically pleasing, not to mention the cast included some of my favorite artists. Kate Walsh, who plays Hannah’s mother is someone I look up to and she was absolutely perfect in this role. It kills me that we will have to wait an indefinite amount of time for the release of season 2.
2.) How did you hear about the show?
I was actually attending a concert at Madison Square Garden, and the bathroom stalls were covered in replicas of the hateful graffiti and messages you see written all over the bathroom stalls in the TV show. Pretty clever!
3.) If you’re willing to share, do you personally suffer from a mental Illness or have a family member/friend that suffers from one? If yes, feel free to elaborate.
I had a bad bout of depression in my freshman year of college. My anxiety levels were at an all-time high and I even developed shingles-a form of herpes that is stress induced and normally only diagnosed in older adults-at the age of 18. Almost everyone I have ever known has struggled with some aspect of mental health, in all different capacities.
3.) Were you aware of the subject matter before going into the show? If yes, were you hesitant at all?
I did not know any of the details until I sat down to watch the series for the first time. The subject matter did not deter me from wanting to watch the show.
4.) What about the series did you like?
The most important theme of this show for me was empathy. All of the characters in this show experience hardship and it’s important for the audience to see that everyone goes through it. This reminds us that being kind and eliminating judgement of others can prevent irrevocable damage.
5.) What about the series didn’t you like or felt was difficult to watch?
I have always been super grossed out by any abrasions to the wrists so I did have to look away during Hannah’s suicide scene.
6.) Do you think they reflected the material accurately?
Speaking on the authenticity and validity of the content, I felt that the show did succeed in spreading awareness for mental health, as well as the dangerous effects of peer pressure and bullying. The final episode of season 1 includes (spoiler alert) the “big moment” scene where the main character is shown taking her own life by slitting her wrists. While this scene was gruesome and truthfully difficult to watch, I was glad that the story line was interpreted honestly.
When tackling subjects like rape and suicide in television, there is a very delicate line between honest and kitschy. Had it missed the mark, Hannah’s final scene could’ve emphasized a glorification of suicide. I thought it was important that they show this scene and was glad that their interpretation had integrity.
7.) Do you feel like anything was missing or could have been added to the series?
I didn’t read the book so I’m not sure how similar the TV show was to the original story. The characters mentioned several events that Hannah lied about in her recordings. I would’ve liked to see how these events played out from their perspective.
8.) How did you feel after finishing the series?
I was itching for season #2.
9.) Do you feel like mental health and sexual assault education should be just as important as other aspects of health/sex education?
Absolutely. As someone who works with children on the spectrum, I am constantly amazed that people still know so little about it. It is my duty to advocate for these children and to educate their families. When I was growing up, you didn’t know if a child in your classroom was emotionally disturbed, or if they had autism. You just grew accustomed to the kid who had violent tantrums in the classroom, or the kid who was always reprimanded for being unprepared. When I was growing up, the schools did not educate us on the kids who might be a little different from the “typically developing” majority. We knew the same individuals would continue to act out in the classroom and get special help from TA’s, but we never knew why. By informing children about differences early on, we may avoid ignorance and the inability to understand that others learn differently later in life. This thought goes hand in hand with sexual assault education. If we inform students about it, they will be more likely to stick up for themselves and/or seek help if they recognize assault, preventing further harm to themselves and others.
10.) What would you tell someone suffering from a mental illness if they were considering watching the show?
When I am recommending a show to anyone, I like to describe the main events to help them decide whether or not they’d like to watch it. If I was speaking specifically to someone I knew struggled with mental illness, I could tell them to take heed, but I think it’s more appropriate to give a person the gist and allow them to decide on their own. Otherwise, you might exacerbate unnecessary fear in someone who might be completely okay with viewing the content. Additionally, mental illness is something that affects the majority of people silently without anyone being aware of it. My feeling is that any person, with or without diagnosis of mental illness, deserves the same treatment.
Be sure to catch the rest of my interviews posting Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.