Audiences consume television in various ways today, from binging a complete series over the course of a weekend to inviting a cast of characters into their home every week. Either way, viewers naturally become attached to the shows and the characters who they grow to know episode after episode (or week after week if you’re a cable kind of consumer).
Now in its third season, Netflix’s hit show 13 Reasons Why shines a spotlight on some serious issues such as mental health, bullying, sexuality, suicide, and sexual assault. Though explicit in nature, the show’s young cast has been lauded for depicting the sensitive material with a captivating candor, which has resulted in audiences becoming even more connected to this group of characters .
Timothy Granaderos plays Montgomery de la Cruz on 13 Reasons Why and since season one, Monty has been seen as a high school jock with a chip on his shoulder. A pretty polarizing character, Monty garnered a ton of hate on social media upon his introduction on the show. “Justin [Prentice] actually started the hashtag #TimIsNotMonty last season because fans do have trouble differentiating the actor from the character,” Granaderos tells me. Fellow cast member Anne Winters responded to her fans with an Instagram story clarifying she was not in fact the character she plays on the show, while the show’s newest star, Grace Saif, recently deleted her Instagram account completely. Granaderos is choosing to have a more optimistic reaction to the hate he receives on behalf of Monty. “If your character is meant to get that reaction out of fans and you don’t, did you do a good job? Reading the comments and seeing the hate, it’s just hate for the character which is kind of how it should be,” he says.
The third season of 13 Reasons Why ended with a twist that was actually a surprise to most of the show’s cast as well as audiences across the globe. “We all have our own secrets, just like in the show. Some people are very gossipy and tell their secrets but I kept all of my secrets until the very end,” Granaderos says of keeping storylines a secret on set. “For Monty’s character arc, I knew there was going to be the aspect of humanizing him and learning about his home life, but I didn’t know all the specifics. I found a lot out as the story unfolded.” SPOILER ALERT: Granaderos was so good at keeping Monty’s secrets, he says, “By the end, no one knew that I had died.”
With graphic scenes and seriously heavy material, I admitted to Granaderos that I can’t watch 13 Reasons Why before I go to bed unless I follow it up with an episode of The Office. In response, Granaderos says that in the past, the whole cast typically binges the new season but they all took their time this year. “It can really wear on you,” he says of the show. He adds that the cast has such trust in each other after working together for so many years, and enduring such emotionally draining situations. “You read certain scenes and they can seem super terrifying but you know that everyone is in it together and we all have each other’s backs.”
One message from the show that Granaderos hopes is conveyed to audiences is one that has been an underlying theme since season one. “Try to have empathy for others no matter what, because you don’t necessarily know what they’re going through. It’s easy to pass judgment onto someone based on a few actions but little do you know what’s going on in their life.” Specific to Monty’s character, Granaderos says, “Monty did terrible things. But if you dig a little deeper, you see he is a product of this toxic home life. It’s tough.”
From empathizing with Monty to surprising his fellow cast mates with Monty’s fate on the show, Granaderos has been on a wild ride over the past few months. While he has been keeping busy lately with a project that must remain a mystery for now, the real question is, will Monty make a return in the fourth season of 13 Reasons Why? “I hope so but I don’t know,” he says with a cheeky laugh. “The good thing about our show is it leaves a lot of avenues open for characters like flash backs and, who knows,” he adds, hinting that maybe we have not said our final goodbye to Monty just yet.