Series Review – 13 Reasons Why

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Follows teenager Clay Jensen, in his quest to uncover the story behind his classmate and crush, Hannah, and her decision to end her life.’ (IMDb) (Netflix, 13 episodes of ap. 1h)

This struck too close to home. It struck close, and hard, and deep. Especially the truth it portrayed gave my chivers but I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

I already feel this will be a short review. I’m not going to go into details and I don’t want to do a recap by episode, as I sometimes do with other series. But I did want to talk about my thoughts and feelings watching this series. So, it won’t be a full review either. Not now, not just yet.

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It didn’t go easily. I stopped watching after the first one and then again after the third one. Just because it struck so close to home and I saw things happening that I knew friends or myself went through. It was hard. They don’t shy away from the truth. They choose to express it fully and wholly. To let everybody see what impact someone’s actions can have on one person. For that I will be forever grateful. And I will promote this series to friends and family and strangers. So everybody knows it or at least has heard of it, and so that they may (maybe) understand what some individuals go through.

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This theme is hard. That is the truth. Teenagers can be assholes. Teenagers can be cruel. And when you’re also a teenager, finding your way in your new body, your new life, then hearing and seeing and going through such things, hit much harder. You’re just not in that place yet where you can dismiss it or give it the right place. Not yet.

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So yes, this series struck close to home. I cried my eyes out and I felt things I haven’t felt in a long time. But it also felt like a closure for me. Being older and thinking back, I finally can close some of the chapters in my life that were still seeping through in my current life, that were still controlling me. I can finally give it a place.

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After episode 4 or 5 I watched almost all of it in one setting. On the one side, I needed it to be over, on the other I was eagerly awaiting the moment Clay got to his tape. (I cried all over here) He broke my heart all over again, realizing what he did or didn’t do. Just a beautiful moment.

This entire series is carried by the actors. They are all fabulous and bring over the emotions without overacting, without pushing it too hard. They are real teenagers and you can easily place yourself in their place. I now understand when Selena Gomez (producer on this series) told that they waited to tell the story until they found their perfect cast. And they succeeded.

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The last episode hit the hardest. They show everything. Everything. And it wasn’t easy to watch it. It wasn’t at all. But it is the truth. And everybody should know it. Because it isn’t easy and it never will be and it can never become easy.

I talked about it with a friend who also watched it, realizing as well it hit too close to home and got through it. Both of us agreed that this is the best way to show it. It is much more important to open a discussion about it, letting everybody know it is ok to think it once in awhile, and most importantly that there are people to talk to. And I’ve always been open about it, letting people know I understand and I want to be there to help others through it.

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I especially hate all the commotion that came around it: that Netflix didn’t put enough information around the series about places people can go too if they need help. That this isn’t a series for young people. That it is too hard. They do have a point. But I think it’s way more important to be open and honest, especially with teenagers, and talk about it. Not hiding it, because then it gets worse. Trust me, I grew up in a household were talking about real, hard emotions wasn’t possible. Where the perception others had of us as a family, was more important. I’ll say no more about this, but please talk about this. Don’t shove it away. This is too important. 

What do you think about this entire topic? Did you watch it? Let me know in the comments… And please be respectful and share the love around… This world is too beautiful to ruin it with poison.

9/10 stars… yes, a very high score… Both for its performances and quality, and for the message it gives to teenager. There’s already a second season in the pipeline and I can’t wait to see what they’ll do with this one.

Series Review – Girlboss

Girlboss_01Sophia, a misfit, discovers a passion for fashion, becoming an unlikely businesswoman in the process. As her business grows, however, she has to learn to cope with life as her own boss.’ (IMDb) (on Netflix, 13 ep. of approx. 26-30 min.)

This series just wasn’t for me. I’m all for a strong story where a female lead makes it from the ground up, but the important part here is that we actually like the character as well and this is where it got stuck for me.

I hate Sophia. I do admire her for her hard work and for the guts she has to make all her dreams happen. I could use some of that fierceness in my life. But overall she was a bitch. She didn’t care at all for the people around her. She didn’t care for the people she trampled on getting to where she needed to go. And although it got a little bit better towards the end, it didn’t seem genuine at all.

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There was a story arc throughout this first season: her finding her way, her shop, her ebay and then her site. But every episode centered on something in her life, which made me lose interest after the third episode and then again after the ninth. Why there specifically? I don’t know. Because I think I had it with the way they told the story. I would have prefered to see a bigger arc over the episodes rather than a lot of little ones each episode.

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I think it’s unfortunate if you have a good story, but the main character is just not relatable at all. The thing that happened at the end in her relationship, just didn’t stir anything within me. I wasn’t pissed of or feeling anything for her. I was just not caring about Sophia at all. I liked the side characters much more. I enjoyed the times Annie (her best friend) or Gail (another Vintage Clothes seller on ebay, her rival) where on screen, but that was it.

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I get the feeling that although Netflix gives more and more money to make series and movies, and they do give a lot of creative control to the directors, there is a slight decrease in quality. I hope this won’t rub off on some of the more famous series (OITNB for example).

5/10 stars. If there comes a second series, I won’t be watching.

Series Review – Marvel’s Iron Fist

Iron_01‘A young man is bestowed with incredible martial arts skills and a mystical force known as the Iron Fist.’ (IMDb) (On Netflix, 13 episodes of ap. 55min.) 

I can’t help but think this reminds me of something I watched before. The first episode alone is a bit the same story as Arrow, the other series I’m talking about. They both start with the same premise: a long lost rich boy comes back from years being far away, finding himself in a whole new world. Both their best friends have taken over their company and need to find a way to restore their world and find their place back in this hard and different world.

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The big shift here, away from Arrow, came when Danny was put into a psychological hospital and from here I’ll stop with the ‘spoilers’. I’ll just say that I didn’t like this one. I do understand the choice Netflix made to put this one out there before The Defenders, but I just couldn’t connect to Danny. I just couldn’t.

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I didn’t understand him. His character was wise at one moment, then so childish the other. He was the Iron First, but his dad is more important to him then the responsibilities that he took upon himself. I couldn’t get behind half of the decisions he made. Even his fighting didn’t feel real to me. The only moments I found him interesting, was when he was channeling the Iron Fist and where the more supernatural effects kicked in.

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There were some characters I did like. Claire was back for a small character arc. After the events in Luke Cage she starts taking lessons to be able to defend herself better and she finds herself taking them in the Dojo of Colleen Wig, the same one where Danny finds himself at the beginning of the story. Colleen Wig, hallelujah, let’s stop here for a moment. She is the kick-ass female character I love. She’s strong, and yet vulnerable. She loves to fight and stands up for herself. She doesn’t let people push her around and even though Danny irritates her (in the beginning), she doesn’t change when she realizes who he is. She stays true to herself.

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The relationship that forms between these two is so predictable though. I must say that my love for Colleen Wig diminished the more the episodes dragged on. At one point (I think it was around episode 3 or 4) I just knew what was going to happen. The more I watched the series and the more everything I thought would happen, came to happen, just made me disconnect more and more from this series. At one point I even let the series play in the background while I was doing my spring cleaning. The moment I sat before my computer to continue watch it and not just listen to it, I just didn’t have the feeling I was missing anything. And that is not the way a ‘gripping’ series should be.

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To tell you the truth, knowing that he’s a part of The Defenders, doesn’t make me excited for this new series. It’s even the opposite. Even though Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage are in it, I feel that he’s going to drag it a bit down. So I hope that they will make him grow a little bit and make his character evolve into a more interesting and relatable person (as relatable as a ‘superhero’ can be), because if this doesn’t happen, this will be the first Marvel Series I will give up on.

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5/10 stars. It’s not because I didn’t like it, that it isn’t great TV. The images look great. The music swoops you up in the fight scenes. But I need more to connect to a series and to get through it, I need characters I relate to or look up to. I need to feel with the characters, and this just lacked here for me.  

Series Review – Marvel’s Luke Cage

Luke_01‘Given superstrength and durability by a sabotaged experiment, a wrongly accused man escapes prison to become a superhero for hire.’ (IMDb) (On Netflix, 13 episodes of ap. 55min.)

I’m actually really surprised with this series. I thought it was going to be a little bit the same thing as with Daredevil or Jessica Jones, darker, grittier, with superpowers and one evil guy. But here it’s more a drama, a story of a man trying to find his place in this world and it’s definitely a gangster story.

While there are still some supernatural elements to this series (I mean Luke Cage is strong, really strong and can’t be killed), the story shifts its focus early on to the story of Harlem and the fight between two strong men trying to save it. On the one hand we have Cottonmouth, played perfectly by Mahershala Ali, where we can see the corrupt side of Harlem, the gangsters, the fighting, blood, weapons, tied together with his cousin Mariah, a corrupt politician, using corrupt money to buy her seat in the council and putting up her projects. On the other hand we have Pop (only there for a few episodes, but one hell of a character) and Luke Cage off course, portrayed by Mike Colter, trying to fight of Cottonmouth and his band, trying to find his place in this world and keep his own past hidden from the people of Harlem.

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While this series does focus more on these two sides, I do feel that the entire show wouldn’t be what it is without the great actors that play the different characters. Mike Colter is Luke Cage. He is huge, but still vulnerable. He’s distant, but still nice and friendly to others. There hasn’t been any other series where actor and character fit so well.

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I especially enjoyed the episode where we see how Luke Cage got his powers. The little peak in his past and what he endured in prison, gave me a better understanding of his current character. I do however still feel we’re missing another piece of the puzzle to truly understand how he got to who he is. Why did he have to go to prison? He was framed apparently, but why and how? And after the revelation of who Diamondback is, I feel like getting to know his childhood as well gave us a better understanding of his character. I would have liked to see his past explained a bit more. They went over it a little too fast in my opinion.

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The only thing that I did miss a bit, was the supernatural side of things. In Daredevil and Jessica Jones and off course in all the other movies, we see supernatural things happening and this all is off course a huge part of the Marvel Universe. So this felt totally different and I’m wondering how they will incorporate this and his story into The Defenders storyline. I would have liked to see the storyline of his powers expanded a little bit and to see other characters with supernatural or otherworldly abilities. 

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Being one of the latest installment of Marvel on Netflix, I do feel it stands out by being more a gangster story and drama, then a real superhero story. After Iron First, that’s already available on Netflix (I’m currently watching this, review to come really soon), The Defenders will be the next series from Marvel to hit our screens all over the world, followed shortly by The Punisher. With a third series for Daredevil, and a second season for Jessica Jones and Luke Cage, Netflix will be full of Marvel for the following years. And I kinda like it.  

7/10 stars