Love, Simon: a review


I still enjoy romantic films set in high school, especially when they have an air of authenticity. There are so many that I love that I cannot pick a favourite. I know that may seem pretty weird at my advanced middle age. But I admit, I will stop dead in my tracks if I stumble across any of the following films on TV: Pretty in Pink, Clueless, 10 Things I Hate About You, Sixteen Candles, Lucas, Some Kind of Wonderful, 13 Going on 30, Juno, Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist….to name a few.

I had heard lots of good things about Love, Simon,  so I suggested to my daughters that we check it out at the theatre. My husband probably would have joined us if it hadn’t been a work day for him. What a sweet – yet at times sad – but over all fun –  film that left more than one of us battling a few tears (mostly of joy).


This film is about a gay romance, lending a refreshing change to the usual formula. Simon is a closet gay high school student. We spend the first half of the film getting to know him and his friends. Then Simon starts an online correspondence with another closeted gay teen from his school. Because they use aliases, their identities and relationship is a secret to everyone. That is until Simon forgets to log off a school computer. The aftermath of this unfortunate oversight propels the second half of the film to a very satisfying, well-earned conclusion.

This movie has witty yet realistic dialogue. There is great acting from its young cast. Nick Robinson is charmingly awkward as the titular character. His core friend group is made up of distinct personalities with Katherine Langford and Jorge Lendeborg JrKatherine Langford and Jorge Lendeborg Jr. as Leah and Nick, respectively, 3 pals since kindergarten. Abby, the new girl, played by Alexandra Shipp adds a wild streak to this otherwise low-key group. These young actors are convincing in their portrayal as a tight-knit group of friends. Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel do a genuinely heartfelt turn as Simon’s parents. Their struggle as parents is very relatable.

Despite a more progressive and supportive environment than I ever witnessed first hand in high school [cough, cough, 30-some years ago, cough] coming out, as portrayed in this film, is clearly a very stressful and deeply personal journey. This movie succeeds in taking you along for that ride. I am glad that this film got a wide, mainstream theatrical release. I am thrilled that my daughters were keen to see it. I am delighted that it is deservedly well-reviewed. I guess I can add Love, Simon to the titles listed above. I would watch it again, anytime.


13 Reasons Why: a review


A number of people have been asking me about this show so I thought I would blog about it. I watched this show with my youngest daughter (13 years old) when she expressed interest in it. Her interest was stimulated by the kids at school buzzing about it. I probably would not have started watching it otherwise, as there is so much else on my viewing radar (an almost complete list of shows can be found below). My eldest had no interest in the show at all.


13 Reasons Why is based on a young adult novel of the same title by Jay Asher. It centres around the life of Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford) who has just killed herself. She left behind 13 audio tapes for her friends and acquaintances to listen to, in an attempt to be finally understood by those who failed to help her. There are voice over narratives and flashbacks interwoven with the present day depiction of a community devastated by the loss of this girl. We spend much of the time with Hannah’s friend Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette) as he listens to the tapes and tries to figure out what he could have done differently. This show is a realistic depiction of many aspects of teen angst.  For this I applaud it. This is a far cry from the teen glamour soaps that that flood us (Pretty Little Liars, etc.). It is also quite stark in its depiction of physical and sexual violence as well as suicide.

The acting was convincing by the young cast. The dialogue was pretty realist as well. However, the suspense structure for dramatic effect seemed contrived at times. This show strained to fill 13 episodes (45 min each). I wanted to understand Hannah’s pain in the context of her extreme action but struggled to do so for much of the 1st season. My daughter had a hard time understanding her too. A somewhat better understanding was left to the end. Much of the earlier events seemed like ordinary teen stuff that she was emotionally ill-equipped to handle. That Hannah could not go to her parents for help was very difficult for me to watch. Her parents were depicted as loving and supportive in flashback scenes. Their devastation after her death brought me to tears. This show had little if any discussion about the mental health aspects of Hannah’s troubles. I found that problematic. It also seemed to simplify and externalize much of the responsibility of what is a very complex and very personal problem. Hannah’s isolation was probably realistic. Many kids live inside their own heads and do not know how to clearly ask for help. Their struggles can seem overwhelming in the echo chamber of their minds. Suicide is often described as an impulsive and desperate act, but as depicted in this show, it is usually associated with depression. I hope Season 2 will delve into this a bit more.

This is a Netflix original series that I admire but would have a hard time broadly recommending as must see TV. I think if you are a parent who is interested in pop culture and you want to know what kids are watching, it is worth a look. If your child is watching it, then I think you should definitely watch it too and discuss the themes which include financial struggles, social class, social media shaming, under age drinking, rape culture, friendship, crushes and sexual identity. This show has been renewed for a 2nd season. I will probably only watch it if my daughter wants to. I am grateful for the opportunity to have watched season 1 with her.

Curious about what else I have been watching? The list below is shocking.

The Americans ___ Archer ___ Better Call Saul ___ Black Sails ___ Call the Midwife ___ Catastrophe ___ Crashing (UK) ___ Crazy Ex-Girlfriend ___ The Crown  ___ Dr. Who ___ The Fall ___ Fargo ___ Fleabag ___ Girls ___ Glitch ___ Grantchester ___ Happy Valley ___ Humans ___ iZombie ___ Jane the Virgin ___ Jessica Jones ___ Killjoys ___ Last Tango in Halifax ___ Lovesick ___ The Magicians ___ Master of None ___ Mercy Street ___ Orange is the New Black ___ Orphan Black ___ Please Like Me ___ Poldark ___ Preacher ___ Scott and Bailey ___ Sense8 ___ Silicon Valley ___ Taboo ___ This is Us ___ Veep ___ Victoria

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