Sheri Holland has a dark secret, hidden behind her sweet and infectious smile is a truth she would rather did not get out. With each tape being gradually revealed through the episode, we as an audience have to wonder what involvement Sheri is going to have. The popular cheerleader portrays herself with a sweetness, she’s soft spoken and appears more approachable in comparison to her peers.
Sheri, like many of the other characters, is a senior at Liberty High. She has long curly black hair, brown eyes and a very cute expression. In my personal opinion, Sheri is the most attractive of the female cast members. Building a character profile off of her early scenes I’d say she is a very genuine and likeable girl. Her involvement in the plot thus far has portrayed her as someone who’s maybe harbouring a little crush on Clay. In the scenes leading up to Hannah’s Valentines date with Marcus, she appears to be on friendly terms with Hannah.
By episode 6 I had built up quite a positive impression of Sheri. She engaged with Clay and up until now seemed to be distanced from the ongoing drama described in Hannah’s tapes. Being that I held this positive opinion of her, once her and Clay started to become passionate during a one-to-one study session I would have to say I was rather stoked for him. However, it soon became apparent that maybe Sheri’s intentions weren’t as clear as they seemed.
Clay, having flashbacks to an awkward encounter which later gets its own tape, is struggling to engage in his intimate moment with Sheri and she becomes withdrawn. Sheri, who is aware Clay is listening to the tapes, wonders if Clay knows about her involvement. The encounter soon turns hostile when Clay feels manipulated and he asks Sheri to leave. Up until this point I, and I’m sure others, had not predicted Sheri’s involvement in the tapes. How could sweet and innocent Sheri be tied up in the suicide of Hannah…
There is an agonizing wait of some hours between episode 6 and 10 before we find out the dramatic circumstances which link Sheri to the death of Hannah. Whilst the tapes leading up to 10 have dealt with the common theme of people who have let Hannah down, tape 10 perhaps examines how Sheri let herself down. As we have already previously learnt, Jessica’s party was the one of the pinnacle moments leading up to Hannah’s suicide. We had already learnt of sexual abuse in the previous tape but in tape 10 we would uncover a death.
Hannah, completely bewildered and lost from what she had encountered just moments beforehand, sat alone and completely disjointed from her surroundings. Sheri, who had not been drinking that evening offered to drive her home. This good will gesture would begin the downwards spiral of events that led to the death of Jeff Atkins.
Whilst driving Hannah home, a lapse in concentration meant Sheri knocked over a stop sign. A stressed Hannah urges Sheri that she must call the police and report it as it could cause an accident. Sheri refuses to accept responsibility and doesn’t want to get in trouble with her father or the authorities. After the heated discussion she drives away, leaving Hannah stranded by the fallen sign. Hannah ventures off to report the sign as fallen but on her way to report it an accident occurs.
Once the news of Jeff’s death breaks Sheri perhaps consoles her grief by telling herself that Jeff was intoxicated and his untimely death had been the result of the alcohol. Hannah, clearly distraught by what she felt partly responsible for, tried to reach out to Sheri but the popular cheerleader was clearly in denial of her involvement.
Her entire denial of the situation is however debatable as it is revealed in episode 10 that she helps and attends to the elderly gentleman that was also hurt during the crash. She has bonded with the family though of course they are not aware of her involvement in the accident. Her actions caused the death of a young man and that is a heavy weight to carry, helping the other family may be her only way to find closure. This scene certainly shows a more human side to Sheri.
In the concluding scenes of the series Sheri finally confesses to the police about her involvement in Jeff’s death. What actions will be taken from her confession are yet to be seen.
Sheri’s involvement in the series was an integral part of the character development. What we examined in her is a girl who couldn’t take accountability for her own actions. On more than one occasion Hannah or Clay approached her about accepting her responsibility and the subsequent consequences only for her to deflect blame away from herself. Her portrayal is that of someone who believes she can do no wrong. However, her running errands for the elderly gentleman does suggest she takes some accountability for what happened that night.
I don’t feel Sheri is a bad person by any means. Her acts of kindness towards her classmates suggest that she has a good heart. Surrounded by a cast of characters who have performed such heinous acts I do to some level sympathise with Sheri. I feel her intentions are certainly more genuine than some of those around her but ultimately it doesn’t excuse the fact that she makes herself exempt from punishment or repercussions to her behaviour.
Her ultimately confessing to her crime demonstrates her developing character arc, she has distanced herself from the likes of Courtney, who is still in denial over her own tape. Sheri is a young, she makes mistakes but in overcoming her flaw of not accepting accountability she certainly becomes a more likeable character, at least in my eyes.