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4-min read

13 Reasons Why's Alisha Boe, Justin Prentice Open Up About Their Character Transformations in Season 3

We caught up with the star cast of '13 Reasons Why,' who spoke at length about the Netflix series that deals with high school bullying and sexual abuse.

Vaishali Jain | News18.com

Updated:August 23, 2019, 3:20 PM IST
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13 Reasons Why's Alisha Boe, Justin Prentice Open Up About Their Character Transformations in Season 3
Images of Alisha Boe and Justin Prentice.
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“That’s how it is for girls. People judge you by the way you look and the things they hear about you. They put a label on you. I just feel like boys get to define themselves. They get to choose their identity and they can hide behind it,” says Jessica Davis, actress Alisha Boe, in season 2 of 13 Reasons Why when she finally musters the courage to go and testify against Bryce Walker, a fellow student who raped her in an unconscious state.

Post that, during her time at Liberty High School, students label Jessica a victim, a sl** and a survivor, whereas, Bryce is characterised as a rich spoiled athlete, who bullies everyone around him.

Things have not been easy for Jessica. For a long time in the Netflix series, she was not able to cope up with the fact that she was molested. She was extremely apprehensive to testify. Why? Because she didn’t want to weigh the entire incident again, more so publicly.

In the high school drama series 13 Reasons Why, Jessica brings to light the fact that weight is always on the victim to prove that something bad happened to them. Speaking to News18, Alisha, who reprises the role of Jessica in the upcoming season of 13 Reasons Why, calls it an unfortunate fact of life.

She said, “Unfortunately in real life, people tend to question the victim when they come out against their attacker. Just having to portray the character and not even going through it in real life, it took a toll on me because it is emotionally exhausting. I can speak more of it in advance because of the research I did.”

But, coming out against the abuser is just teething troubles. The real problem comes later when in order to prove their case, victims have to relive the entire incident. “It psychologically affects the survivor's emotional and mental health because they have to relive their trauma every single time they have to defend themselves," said Alisha, adding, “it's not right, especially when you're trying to recover.”

In the show, Jessica (Alisha's character) is dealing with the same issues during court trials. She has to undergo therapy before she finally comes out and addresses her assault. However, the trial ends with Bryce receiving only three months of probation for sexually assaulting both Hannah (Katherine Langford) and Jessica. There are no further legal ramifications.

“It’s unfortunate that her abuser gets only a slap on the wrist and this happens day in and day out in real life,” said the actress drawing parallels between the show and real life.

If you think that previous two installments of 13 Reasons Why had it all, you couldn't be more mistaken. Season 3 twists the plot further. Things have not been easy for Bryce either. He ends up dead and as his murder mystery unfolds more facets of the teenagers' lives. Being rich, popular and influential, Bryce was one of the most popular guys in the school, but things fall apart when he’s proven guilty as an abuser.

Talking about his character, Justine Prentice, who plays Bryce Walker in the series, called season 3 a rewarding experience as he gets to explore different layers of his character. “We got used to seeing one particular side of Bryce. In season three, we dip into a different side of him. Getting to see this sort of kingpin of school fall from his rein and seeing the hierarchy being toppled is interesting,” Prentice told News18.

Further, elaborating about the dark and consuming character he said, “Bryce has a very interesting character arc. You see him going from a big man on campus to this lost kind of a kid, who is still trying to make things right and make amends in his way. He was disgraced not only from Liberty and his society but also from his new school he transfers to. He faces a hard time there trying to find a place where he fits in. This gives him a different perspective and outlook on his past actions because of which he currently stands and in future he is trying to make things right.”

Bryce doesn’t face any major consequences legally, but he nevertheless has a hard time moving past the abhorrence he cultivates for himself. Season 3 sees a major transformation in Jessica too. She traverses the journey of becoming a survivor from a victim. Detailing her character transformation in the upcoming season she says, "In season three, you see her hold the power in a very inspiring way. It's a different side of her as she inspires others who may have gone through the same experience."

“I think we are moving forward as a society, but believing the victim rather than believing the attacker is something I am looking forward to. It's time that women and survivors, in general, are heard,” said Alisha while concluding.

13 Reasons Why season 3 premieres on August 23 on Netflix.

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