Sonia Forcada, Gavin Matthew, Trey Jordan, Anastaisa Brady
C M Selbrede, Liam Gilbey
The review for Season Two of "Hurt" can be found here.
Interesting series – "Hurt" deals with some very real aspects of the human experience. We're introduced to the main character Stone in the very first episode, who is depressed in various ways. I liked that we not only get to discover our own perspective on who he is and what he's all about, but through the supporting cast, we get a bunch of different opinions and viewpoints on what he's like as well. Depression often works like that in real life – some people get it, some think it's self-induced, some are attracted to it - and others don't understand it at all. Finnegan becomes a crucial part of this initial episode, a great new friend for Stone, and quickly ends up being a real reason to continue to watch for the uniqueness he brings to his character because, let's be honest here, Stone on his own might have been a bit too mired in his own murk to draw us all in. As most of us know, with any show, there's always room to grow and evolve from where it all starts, and here, there are slight audio issues with the ambient sound that should have been further sorted out - and writing-wise, I don't know that episode one will leave most folks with enough incentive to continue watching. But, as with anything I watch, I try not to judge any show before getting to episode three in a series – that's generally when I feel like I've decided whether or not I'll keep going further into it all.
As episode two continues, we start to wonder what kind of show "Hurt" wants to be. Overall, it's been described as a Drama, but that's offset somewhat by passing attempts to add comedic aspects to the characters and their dialogue - as the story progresses. While that's not always a bad idea, "Hurt" is also trying to tackle some enormous issues that are very real – to the point where the show itself comes with a warning label at the very beginning of each episode. Personally, I started to find I was already looking for more of a serious tone to match the show's intentions - and felt like "Hurt" was not only struggling to find its voice at the start of the series but maybe missing its true potential strengths. While we move through the first couple of episodes, the likability of the show's characters keeps us engaged while we search for the direction of where "Hurt" will go - and what it ultimately wants to say. Sorting out the main audio issues and finding that balance in the ambiance/volume will go a long way to prevent the scenes from feeling choppy - and like everything is filmed with fluidity rather than stop/start. I like that we start to see the story's progression quickly enough, though, and "Hurt" introduces some essential aspects to the plot, like judgment, self-doubt, our passions, and life-and-death situations.
Episode three ended up being interesting in how Stone and Finn attempt to get the backstory on each other by asking other people rather than simply talking it out between themselves. Honestly, it's kind of cute in an odd way - I think it highlights how difficult it can often be to make friends as adults. Finn remains highly watchable – I felt like it's Stone that we're still all searching for a "reason" to like. As we can experience with people battling depression, it can be a very self-absorbed type of personality – but what's concerning is that by episode three, we're still trying to find a way to empathize with his story and understand the way that he's feeling from his point of view. All we know is that he's sad. Still, as viewers, we need a bit more to be able to connect with his confusion. We get a glimpse of what's ailing him via the other characters, but at this point, it's still proving tough to identify with how it really affects Stone - in terms of what we see versus what we're told. That's the thing about shows and visuals – we've got that ability to tell stories through what we see, and it's important to use that aspect as best you can; "Hurt" is doing a stellar job of showing us Finn's character, but there's a noticeable distance between Stone and us.
As episode four began, I wondered if the show's audio issues were becoming even more problematic and perhaps hindering the potential of "Hurt" more than it should be at this point in the series. We start to tap into Finn's issues as his friendship with Stone continues, and we feel like we're beginning to get closer to the heart of what this show is looking to address, with the cloud of suicidal thoughts creeping in a bit more. I really like that we can see both Stone and Finn have stunted growth in many ways, which I feel is a genuinely common aspect of depression. Some of us never want to grow up, and the resistance to it - and finding our way into societal norms can instantly create outsiders for many people. Rebecca, another main character of this show, has some of her own best scenes - as she experiences professional rejections as she attempts to pursue acting. If anything on this planet causes us to slip into depression, it's the desire to do things we'd love to do - and being told that, for some reason or another, we can't. Complications in life and relationships arise, and now that we know the characters a bit more than we did at the start, we're starting to feel that connection and sympathy.
Stone's sisters play a more crucial role in episode five as they try to insert themselves into his life. It introduces a bunch of unique aspects to the plot that makes sense in some ways and gets a bit muddled in others. For example, we hear about how Stone and Finn are adults, implying they're capable of solving their own problems, yet we know the opposite is true - by the very fact that the sisters are there trying to fix things. We run into other effective issues being brought up, like jealousy, possession, and when it is/isn't okay to try and help someone without being directly asked to do so. I still feel like what is really missing from "Hurt" is some kind of backstory episode - that shows us why we should be as concerned about Stone as we should be. That being said, the supporting cast and the main scenes of confrontation in this fifth episode shine the brightest during this darker episode. To further the point of the confusion occurring in the script and story, in the episode titled "Things Happen for a Reason," again, we're told more about how Stone is simply sad - without being pointed to some kind of concrete aspect of what would make him that way. We know that he wants to kill himself, but "Hurt" is really missing that tie-in as to why he's in such dire straits. I love that Stone begins to realize the way out is through purpose, passion, creativity, and art; it's a bit like we get the solution before we reach the heart of the problem, but the intentions are right.
While Stone seems to be getting better, Finn's grappling with bad influences and seems to be getting worse in episode six. I liked how "Hurt" gives us a look at the stories Stone is creating by showing them to us onscreen – it's one of the most effective things we get to see in terms of technique and bringing us into his world. It also gives us more of a glimpse into the dynamics of his relationship with Rebecca and the strengths of their friendship. It's one of the most supportive aspects of Stone's life and crucial to his survival/getting past his depression. The audio issues, in terms of the problems with the surrounding ambient sound, seem to be going away – now it's just about doing their best to keep the volume fairly level and balanced as they switch between scenes. "Hurt" is probably moving a bit too quickly in terms of Stone being unfixable - to seeming to be all sorted out – again, this is another opportunity for the shift in his mood and personality to be shown to us more than just explained. Even the ending of this particular episode/focus on the deteriorating relationship of Finn and Stone would be another opportunity for "Hurt" – we get what the show is going for, but as quickly as it has been moving, I don't know if it has shown us enough of why either Stone or Finn would feel like their friendship was as crucial as it seems to be to them. We saw a couple of conversations and a hangout or two. I don't know if there's enough on display to have us feeling what "they" seem to be feeling.
Andrea makes for a good semi-villain/enabler in this story, and her character will likely remind you of at least one or two people you've probably crossed paths with. While she's played a significant role throughout this show, especially in regard to Finn's character, her most defining moments come through in episodes five and seven. In terms of what we can learn from by example, there's a lot to be gleaned from this particular episode and the character of Andrea, even if it's only what not to do - or realizing she's the kind of personality best avoided for your own personal health. The use of flashbacks during the dancing sequence was also a good move. Audio issues continue to plague this show more than they should, with a pivotal scene between Andrea and Stone reduced to a volume just barely over a whisper - in comparison to so much of the episode; if it seems like I'm harping on this point, I hear ya – but imagine turning anything you watch up and down as you're watching it over and over again. It's the kind of thing that'll take you right out of the story and have you focusing on something you probably shouldn't have to. As far as the scene we see between Finn and Stone, that would have also had more weight to it if we had been able to connect more with the pain that Stone had been through all along; it's hard to celebrate the avoidance of danger we didn't quite see as much as we probably should have. Rebecca's return is welcome – I felt like the show probably could have used more of her and her storyline. Even with regard to the sisters, I think there's an opportunity for all of the background characters' details to intersect more with the main.
With there being one last episode, I had to take a peek at the "Hurt" special at the very end. Maybe it would be the missing piece that somehow tied everything together. You never know, right? The cast has collectively put a lot of work into this show; its writers, C.M. Selbrede and Liam Gilbey, have one last shot at tying up loose ends, and "Hurt" still gets the opportunity to clear things up once and for all. Production values and volumes get a bit closer to being more in line with this last episode, which has the show going out on a good note in that regard. I felt like the points "Hurt" attempts to make - the difference between not being dead and truly living - were among the main points it had wanted to make all along. However, I don't know that the special eighth episode is enough to make "Hurt" finish any stronger than it started - in terms of its storyline. Ultimately, it felt like "Hurt" danced more around what it was truly driving at than Finn and Stone did when they were actually busting moves in the good times. It's tough subject matter to take on, but the real lesson to be learned throughout this show is to be fearless when it comes to life, commit, and dedicate yourself to everything you do - in order to get the best results out of living. In that regard, "Hurt" could have probably come out stronger by heeding its own advice, and rather than dancing around the toughest parts of its story, rolling up their sleeves and getting gritty with the details.
There's potential here, without question. Yet the writing still feels like it has a long way to go and should have been polished up before filming began. But... I'm going to be a bit lenient and generous on this one because there really is a lot of effort being made here - and I truly do believe that "Hurt" has the best of intentions. I'll give this series three stars out of five based on the strengths of the majority of the cast and the sincerity of what it was trying to say, even if "Hurt" was having a hard time saying it a lot of the time.