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’13 Reasons Why’ Producers on the Series’ ‘Eerie’ Similarities to Brett Kavanaugh Hearings

SPOILER ALERT: This post contains a spoiler for the end of “13 Reasons Why” Season 2. 

The team behind Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why” can’t help but notice the “eerie” parallels there seem to be between its series and the recent Senate testimonies of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford.

Kristel Laiblin, an executive producer on the series, said Ford’s testimony that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in high school reminded her of “13 Reasons Why’s” Season 1 storyline in which Jessica Davis (Alisha Boe) was raped by classmate Bryce Walker, who is protected by his friend, and later, when he is arrested, receives only three months’ probation in Season 2.

“When Dr. Ford was explaining what happened to her in that room, six people that day said, ‘I kept thinking of that scene with Jessica on your show in Season 1,'” she said. “And me too — and that’s all I can picture when I see [Ford] and their teen pictures. All I can think of is, that hallway, that room, those people. And Mark Judge, Brett Kavanaugh, Christine Blasey Ford. And it was eerie.”

Joy Gorman Wettels, another executive producer, said the show plays out “how someone like Bryce Walker can remain protected for so long, and the complicity of everyone’s silence.” The one difference between fact and fiction, she said, was that “Bryce Walker isn’t getting into the Supreme Court” — and Kavanaugh might.

Variety caught up with several TV producers on Wednesday night in Los Angeles at the Norman Lear Sentinel Awards.

One Day at a Time’s” co-showrunner Gloria Calderon Kellett celebrated Ford’s bravery and urged others to believe survivors.

“She’s a true patriot in my mind, because she knew this was going to put her family at risk, that people are going to say terrible things about her, and she felt it was still her duty to come forward. That is bravery like I haven’t seen in a long time,” Kellett said. “That anybody would think that a woman would want to come forward and take a break from her life and talk about this is baffling to me because I know tons of women who will never say anything because you don’t want to. You want to move on with your life.”

Regardless of the outcome of the hearings, Kellett said the conversation around it “has been so toxic toward women” that it’s made her disappointed in the #MeToo movement and the idea that enough people — particularly men — have changed their mindsets toward sexual abuse.

“Why are some subsection of privileged white men afraid, and what can we do as a society to help them and to also live with that toxicity and try to manage it?” she said. “We need to look at how we’re raising young people and what we’re saying to them about consent and sexuality.”

With a tumultuous political landscape, Wettels said she’s recognized, more than ever, “13 Reasons Why’s” power to use its platform to step up and speak out.

“The day after Trump got elected, [creator] Brian Yorkey and I had dinner and he said, ‘I have to make a Season 2,'” she recalled. “I remember Brian feeling like kids need the show more than ever, because our kids can’t believe that a bully can be rewarded to this extent. … We have to remind them of our humanity.”

GLOW” was honored for its episode about Ruth Wilder’s (Alison Brie) abortion. Series co-executive producer Mark Burley ended his remarks by connecting the past to the present.

“Now it’s 30 years later, we’re seeing the ability to make that choice chipped away at, all over the country, and potentially after this week, we may be in danger of losing it nationally,” he said. “I’m going to leave you with one last question that we’ve already heard this week: can you think of any laws that give the government the power to make decisions about the male body?”

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