Just when you thought there wasn’t anything else left for 13 Reasons Why to cover, Season 2 went there. There are spoilers ahead for the latest season, now streaming on Netflix. Also, let this preamble serve has a heads-up and a trigger warning for what’s to come next, which is a discussion about a relationship on the show, which borders on being abusive.
Season 2 of the show introduces us to a few brand new characters, and we’re here to talk about Chloe (Anne Winters). She’s the “popular” girl in school without a doubt, seeing as she’s always surrounded by a group of her friends and is captain of the cheerleading team. Oh, also she’s dating the star football player…who happens to be Bryce Walker (Justin Prentice). Yes, that Bryce Walker. That Bryce Walker you want to punch in the face every time he pops into a scene, and honestly, it’s amazing that more people haven’t tried to punch Bryce in the face.
Chloe is first introduced as a friend for Jessica (Alisha Boe), who went to hell and back last season after being raped by Bryce at her own party. Jessica is still not doing great, but she’s finally back at school, and trying to return to a somewhat normal schedule and lifestyle. This means rejoining the cheerleading squad, headed up by Chloe. This also piques Bryce’s interest, and he suggests that he and Jessica go out and “grab drinks.” No, Bryce. Just stop it.
It becomes very clear that while Chloe and Jessica are on friendly terms, they are not friends. I wouldn’t say they’re frenemies, because it’s not like one is out to necessarily “get” the other; Jessica is simply trying to live her life, and Chloe is trying to maintain her high social status during high school. But Chloe isn’t nice to Jessica whatsoever. To put it simply, she’s a mean girl. Chloe is the Regina George of Liberty High for so many reasons, and not just because she’s always dressed in some shade of pink.
While Chloe doesn’t try to sabotage Jessica in any way, she certainly doesn’t make her life easier. Chloe knows the (TRUE) rumors about Bryce going around the school, and she chooses to ignore them, always taking Bryce’s side and defending him. She knows Jessica is hurting bad, yet she acts as if nothing is wrong and keeps trying to set her up with a new guy so she can have some fun — and that is literally the last thing Jessica wants right now. Chloe does nothing to help ease Jessica’s pain — and honestly, it’s not like she’s required to go out of her way to do so, but she’s clearly choosing to ignore it.
I spent the first half of the season hating Chloe so much, because she was such a caricature of a “mean girl,” and it broke my heart to see this kind of portrayal on screen. And then, something odd happened halfway through the season, because I started feeling for Chloe. Suddenly, my heart hurt not because of her but for her.
Remember Bryce, that dick? He and Chloe are very much dating, and they’re very much in a relationship, and Bryce very much does not ask for Chloe’s consent before having sex. The first time we see this happen on screen I found myself s-c-r-e-a-m-i-n-g at my television because of this set up:
Chloe and Bryce are watching TV. Then Bryce decides he wants to have sex, and it’s not like Chloe is steadfast against it, but she’s not really ready and willing for it — she’s watching TV. She tells Bryce to stop, but he doesn’t, and he keeps going further. Chloe pushes Bryce off of her, but that still doesn’t stop him. Realizing that this is happening, Chloe literally just gives in to Bryce.
Bryce continues forcing himself on top of Chloe, while her head turns away because she’s still just trying to watch TV. She doesn’t want to have sex. She hasn’t told Bryce no, but she hasn’t told him yes, and she literally just gives up. CHLOE, NO.
This same scenario happens a few times throughout the season, each time with Chloe simply letting it happen, without any clear consent cue, either verbal or non-verbal.
If this isn’t heartbreaking enough, it also comes to light before the end of the season that Bryce raped Chloe while she was unconscious — and took pictures of it because he’s a shit human being (SORRY, HE IS). The idea of Chloe testifying against Bryce during the Bakers’ trial against Liberty High School is brought up, and though reluctant, Chloe agrees. And then she gets on the stand and freaks out, because Bryce is in the courtroom with her, and she can’t bring herself to say that her boyfriend raped her.
Meanwhile, while all of this is going on, Bryce is trying to continuously woo Chloe with gifts and trips all over the world. So yes, all of this is hella confusing for Chloe who can’t figure out if she has feelings for Bryce, let alone if she trusts him. There’s no nice way to say it, but Chloe is in a shitty situation and it sucks. It sucks so much. By the end of the season I wasn’t rooting against her, I was rooting for her (and for her to leave Bryce).
The real kicker? In the closing moments of the Season 2 finale, Chloe reveals to Jessica that she’s pregnant.
Everything about this makes my heart hurt, and Netflix knows you’re probably really bummed out by it, too. Just like they did with depression and suicide resources following Season 1, Netflix is trying to help everyone — still in school and beyond — understand consent:
This is obviously a very heavy topic, but it’s one that needs to be discussed and not just behind closed doors. While it’s incredibly difficult to watch, it’s amazing to see 13 Reasons Why tackle this head-on, which will hopefully only start a bigger conversion about consent and abuse. If you’re looking sexual assault resources and help, you can find more information at RAINN right here.
And Chloe, girl, we’re rooting for you…to leave Bryce for good.