13 Reasons Why star Alisha Boe was just three months into filming the acclaimed show's second season when Ronan Farrow's New Yorker article on Harvey Weinstein hit the internet.
"I remember going into work every single day and seeing a new headline about another survivor coming out against their abuser," Boe told Refinery29 at a recent Netflix junket for the upcoming season. "It was incredibly empowering and reminded me how relevant the story is that we’re telling... I already know from the first season that so many [people] really relate to Jessica’s storyline. It’s a dream to be able to tell the stories that are really important."
It's only fitting, then, that season 2 of 13 Reasons Why — a series very much about the aftermath of sexual assault — returns at a time when the #MeToo movement (named for a term coined by Tarana Burke in 2006) has called time's up on such survivor-shaming. The movement, which picked up momentum following the sexual misconduct accusations against Hollywood titan Harvey Weinstein, is something that hopes to counter the slut-shaming and victim-blaming that many survivors experience after speaking their truth.
"There was a small percentage of people who would slut-shame Jessica and be like... 'You’re the one that got drunk. Why did you fall asleep?,'" she explained to Refinery29. "It made me realize the culture of victim-blaming. And I think in this whole year alone [after the #MeToo movement], it has shifted so much more... I feel like we're moving towards a positive change where we actually believe women."
The #MeToo movement has sparked conversations about the systemic abuse that has been rampant in our society, and season 2 of 13 Reasons Why will explore some of the difficulties that survivors face when they tell their story. In a photo for the second season (pictured above), Jessica holds up two pictures of herself: one that reads "drunk" and another that says "slut."
Setbacks aside, Jessica will try to move forward from her traumatic experience, which, in season 1, led her to abuse drugs and alcohol.
"Jessica is moving towards trying to find a new normal," Boe told Refinery29. "[The series] picks up five months after the last season, and she is coming back and reintegrating into school, and trying to find a good support system."
It's worth wondering if Jessica, who is seemingly in court in the above photograph, will have a chance to confront her rapist, or the people who allowed him to continue to abuse women. Given that the teaser for the second season of 13 Reasons Why suggests that Bryce will continue to assault his female peers (a new character, Chloe, is seen passed out next to Bryce in the short video), it is clear that the #MeToo and Time's Up movements are needed more than ever at Liberty High.
How fans will react to this potential sexual assault, and how they will feel about Jessica's story this season, will hopefully be reflective of the sea change in the culture at large.
Season 2 of 13 Reasons Why hits Netflix on Friday, May 18.
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)
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