Sean DiGiorgio, Mohammed Okedeyi, Lucas Sanchez, Akim Kerimov, Sonia Forcada, Lani Boschulteonia
C M Selbrede, Liam Gilbey, Olivia Dimond
The review for Season One of "Hurt" can be found here.
We're into season two of "Hurt" today, picking back up on the story of Fin (Alvin Edwards III) and Stone (Craig Selbrede) after where I left off in reviewing season one earlier this year. You can see things have upgraded a bit even from the credits alone as the story begins - and contains a whole host of new characters, including a stuffed turtle that starts up the narration as chapter nine continues the show. They go on to establish a storyline that includes LGBTQ+ issues, drugs & rehab problems, the obstacles & benefits of friendships, isolation & loneliness, and new opportunities for Stone & his scriptwriting, in addition to expanding on the cast to bring more to season two. Notably, Griff presents a whole bunch of new weight to the show as Stone's 'best friend' at the start of this new season, but if you watched the first, you're probably still a lot like me & hoping he'll work things out with Fin to somehow rekindle their relationship. Fin is still struggling with suicidal thoughts, Stone is still struggling in his battle for his own self-acceptance, and the show is still struggling with a plague of audio issues that'll keep your hand firmly on the volume knob to adjust it both ways as you watch. The stuffed turtle deserves real props and more screen time – that might seem like I'm kidding, but I'm not – it's an effective part of the show.
Chapter ten starts to reveal the disconnect between Stone and Fin on a harsher level that's hard for us to understand. For whatever reason, Stone has become seriously cold to the dude that used to be his best friend, and we don't really get too much insight into that as season two begins. It seems decisively callous, but we kind of have to go with it because this series has a character that appears to be a lot more self-absorbed than he often is self-aware. This is an odd thing about "Hurt" overall because it usually feels like the plotline is centered around Stone more than the rest of the cast, and I feel like we end up wrestling over whether he's even a likable person half the time we're watching him onscreen. Any show that proclaims "math is great" has me naturally suspicious, to begin with, but that scene is also a perfect example of how the audio issues that dominate "Hurt" can completely get in the way. To be honest, it's enough to potentially sink the show before it swims - and they've really gotta be careful. Take the scene in the park not too long afterward with Griff trying to bribe Noa – it's got the natural ambiance, which is great, but when the wind kicks up, the dialogue disappears - and what's perplexing is that the showrunners of Selbrede and Hediger would have to be aware of that. This is where you have tough conversations behind the scenes & reshoot/ADR things if you gotta – there's really no other way to go. The scene in the kitchen towards the end of chapter ten is freakin' heartbreaking; it illustrates how we can often be right there physically with the people we love and a million miles away mentally at the same time. "Hurt" also starts to introduce religious conversations into the mix, which is interesting to include… you'd almost assume they wouldn't fit into this story, but religion permeates everything in life.
As chapter eleven moves the story forward into making it somewhat clear that Griff ain't exactly the best of influences on Stone, Fin struggles even more, to reintegrate himself back into the mix post-rehab. They choose an interesting drug to make the centerpiece of this series, and it feels like "Hurt" might be a lot late in how it views the devil's lettuce – weed has been largely de-stigmatized by the majority of the planet at this point, so it seems like a strange choice to be perceived as the obstacle they're making it out to be. Stone's sister Sara, played by Julia Watson, is a huge bright spot in season two – I wasn't at all sure of her choice of potential boyfriend at the beginning when we first meet the guy, and while I thought their first date was going pretty well there for a moment, by the time it was finished, I was still pretty sure the dude was a douche and that she deserved better. I felt like chapter eleven really brought some great ideas into the story, like how much we're willing to put up with in order to fit in, and when we're trying to be sensitive to someone out there that's been through rehab, do we need to be cautious of all substances, or just the one they were afflicted by? It's good food for thought, and "Hurt" does a good job of opening the door to having these kinds of conversations with others and ourselves. The scene between Jasmine and Noa is spectacular, the argument that ensues afterward between Jasmine and her stepbrother Griff is equally stellar, and both of these moments serve as an important reminder that, whether we do or don't like someone aside, we're all going through something on the inside. We've all got our own demons to face, and it's all relative in terms of how they shape us overall.
That theme carries on strong into chapter twelve, where we almost start to develop a bit of sympathy towards Griff. As I said, we're all going through something, it doesn't matter if we're the hero of the story or the villain, and it's crucial that we remember there can be multiple reasons why a person behaves as they do. I loved the 'sports' scenes with Fin and Stone – they were all great. Once again, I also liked the scenes with Sara and the potential new boyfriend, but at this point in the story, it feels like it's impossible to trust Trevor because he seems to back & forth with his mood swings, and we're not all that convinced he's not just trying to get laid. I'm interested in that storyline for real, though – I think that Trevor seems like one of the characters in life we all feel like we've met along the way somewhere, and I'm genuinely curious as to whether or not my suspicions around his character are at all justified. The dude seems sketchy when it comes right down to it, and I feel like we're all naturally protective of Sara. Chapter twelve is the shortest one of season two, but it's one of the most engaging episodes all around.
The more time we get with the characters, the more we grow to like them and appreciate what they bring to "Hurt," at least for the most part. Like Jasmine (Zaydia Gooding) and Noa (Danay Hampton) – for instance, they're fantastic every time they get to share a scene together. Others like Griff, his friends, and Trevor are more puzzling & complicated – we view these characters with caution, almost afraid to acknowledge their pain or good qualities because they seem…problematic and probably like people we wouldn't choose to hang out with personally. Much like I felt about season one, Fin really seems like he should be the star of this show, yet he doesn't really get the same kind of screen time as many of the rest. I'd pivot from that if I were Selbrede & Hediger, but we all have our favorite characters in any series. The friendship between Stone and Griff has an interesting dynamic to it that seems very one-sided – it's never really clear to us what either of these two get out of being friends with the other, but I actually found that to be pretty real… I've had a bunch of friends throughout my life that seemed to come out of nowhere and didn't always have the same interests that I did.
All-in-all, I do feel like "Hurt" has stepped up its game as a series in many ways throughout season two, largely based on the strengths of new storylines and characters. The writing is more focused. There will always be a few details here and there that get missed in just about any story or show, but now that "Hurt" has established its online presence as a web series and gained traction, you can feel that there's more of a dedicated effort in the way that it's written and presented to us. It's becoming much more effective. This series is getting stronger for sure…once they sort out those pesky audio issues, "Hurt" will be well on its way as a show. Things could be stronger in showing us more of the redeeming qualities of a character like Griff - so that when his group of friends stages an intervention to try & save him from himself, it'll matter to us just as much as viewers. Most of the time, I felt like they should cut him loose. Having the strength to walk away from toxic relationships is an equally important lesson to learn in life.
Our beloved stuffed turtle returns in chapter fourteen! Man, how we've missed you, little guy. The final chapter of this season has the volume plunging to an all-time low as it begins - c'mon, y'all - I feel like "Hurt" seems to intentionally overlook how important it is to get this aspect as balanced as possible. The scenes and shots are all excellent – one of the best things about "Hurt" is that it does feel very real and grounded. Like, it's far removed from that Hollywood feel, know what I mean? Stone was way stronger in season two than he was in season one as well, which is ultimately key to the success of this series as its centerpiece. Griff's character becomes more complex as the season draws to a close, conflicted by his past family traumas and trying to come to grips with the teachings of his religion. I've met folks like him too in life – it's not at all easy trying to live in accordance with the perception of what a righteous path would be - while also having so many typically deviant interests outside of the church's beliefs. The scene in the woods in the season finale is probably a bit on the long side, especially when you factor in the hindrance of the audio issues, but from what we can hear & see, it wraps things up conclusively to the storyline this season was working with at its core. There's a really crucial part of the finale that deals specifically with pushing past differences and finding a way to communicate, even when you don't think you can relate to someone – and in the end, you see some real growth in these characters onscreen that still creates many opportunities in the future for more as the series continues.
Like Blink 182 famously said long ago, "I guess this is growing up," – and that applies both to the characters we've gotten to know and the series itself. "Hurt" is definitely on the right path – it absolutely needs to stop ignoring what is holding it back (yes, the audio issues) in order for it to reach its next level, but the story and characters continue to grow as the series is finding its main strengths, and it feels like its best moments are still yet to come. I'm still sticking with the firm three stars this series got from me in season one here in my assessment of season two, but I'm stoked about how "Hurt" has improved & feel like it's earned its stars on merit this time, more than its implied potential. The more time & experience they all get together making "Hurt," the better this show will be.