If season 2 of 13 Reasons Why proved anything, it's that life often exists in a grey area. So, apparently, do some people. Take Chloe (Anne Winters), a popular cheerleader who is a newcomer to season 2. The girlfriend of rapist Bryce (Justin Prentice), it's all too easy to think the worst of Chloe, who seemingly betrays Jessica (Alisha Boe) by lying on the stand about her own sexual assault at the hands of Bryce. Yet, after watching the season 2 finale, it's worth wondering: Was there a reason why Chloe lied about Bryce on the stand?
First, some background. When we pick up with season 2, Chloe and Bryce are the "golden couple" of Liberty High, despite the swirling rumors about Bryce sexually assaulting both Hannah (Katherine Langford) and Jessica. Chloe does not initially believe the gossip, and thinks that Jessica was lying about hooking up with Bryce in order to save face with her boyfriend Justin (Brandon Flynn). However, midway through the season, Chloe comes face to face with undeniable proof that Bryce is a rapist — and that she is his survivor. Chloe is given a photograph that shows a naked Bryce on top of her unconscious body on the couch in the Clubhouse, an incident she does not remember ever occurring.
Chloe becomes a key witness for the Baker's case against Liberty High, and it seems that she is ready to talk about Bryce sexually assaulting her. Instead, when she gets on the stand, she seemingly changes her mind. Chloe says she remembers having consensual, if drunk sex with her boyfriend — that this photo does not indicate a sexual assault. It's a hard-hitting blow for Jessica and the Baker case against the school, and Chloe never really explains herself.
But could there be more to Chloe's quick decision-making than we initially assumed? During the spring dance in the season 2 finale, Jessica runs into Chloe in the bathroom. She confronts her, and Chloe spills a big secret: She's pregnant.
In a phone interview with Anne Winters, I asked the actress whether Chloe knew she was pregnant before betraying Jessica.
"When I read that [Chloe] was pregnant, I was like, 'That's why I did that on the stand,'" Winters tells me of that courtroom moment. "But when I talked to [creator Brian Yorkey] about it, we kind of decided that it dilutes the fact that Bryce and I have that connection, and that he kind of intimidates me. That stare [Bryce] gives me in the courtroom is why I don't [testify.] I looked into the guy's eyes that I love, and thought 'Oh my God, I can't go against him.'"
"I think [if Chloe knew she was] pregnant, that would give it more of an excuse... People can make sense of it that way, but I think that it's really just that 'I can't testify against this guy who really loves me.'"
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).