13 Reasons Why showrunner on the #MeToo scene that was almost cut
For more on season 2 of 13 Reasons Why — and the potential third season — pick up the upcoming issue of Entertainment Weekly, on newsstands Friday. Don't forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.
Spoiler alert: This post contains plot details from season 2 of 13 Reasons Why.
Despite the fact that the second season of 13 Reasons Why was mapped out before the height of the #MeToo movement, its finale featured a scene that felt tailor-made to join the conversation. When Jessica appeared in court to testify against her rapist, Bryce, her personal statement to the judge turned into a much larger statement for the show as the camera cut to every female character on 13 Reasons talking about some form of harassment or assault she'd experienced. With that one scene, the show was speaking to just how many women have stories of their own.
"We break reality from time to time in this show to really get inside characters' states of mind," showrunner Brian Yorkey tells EW. "We originally thought of the moment as: Jessica falters in her testimony and looks over and sees her mother and Mrs. Baker sitting together, and they give her an encouraging look and she goes on. Then we had this idea of, what if we broke reality and heard from all the different women in our show who have faced sexual harassment and sexual assault? And that, in some way, they're the ones who give Jessica the strength to go on. It's not that she literally imagines each of those women testifying, but that on some emotional level she understood that she was speaking for many women who hadn't had a chance or hadn't been able to speak for themselves."
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It's a scene that Yorkey later contemplated removing from the finale altogether. "We broke the whole season's story over a year ago, long before the surge in the #MeToo movement, long before all the revelations of last summer and last fall. So when we finally got to the producers' cut of [episode] 213, I actually took that sequence out because I felt like it would seem like we were parodying the #MeToo movement," Yorkey says. "What happened in real life was so much more powerful than anything we could do dramatically that I felt like I didn't want to seem to be piling on. But there was an outcry from our executive producers and our executives, many of whom are women. They were right, and I'm really glad it's in there because it's such a cool moment."
That moment, Yorkey hopes, will now help to spread a message, particularly to young women who might be struggling with their own experiences. "I always think about girls who are like 15 and 16 and watching this," he says. "Whether they've experienced something like this or not, it's a reminder that even the adult women in your life probably have had some sort of experience, and they will probably understand if you want to talk to them about what you've been through. You may think that they're strong and this has never happened to them, but it very likely has."
13 Reasons Why season 2 is currently streaming on Netflix.