This article contains spoilers
This article contains spoilers
The infamous “13 Reasons Why” is back with a second season. The show is based on the book of the same name by Jay Asher. It follows the experiences of main character Clay Jensen after the girl he is in love with, Hannah Baker, commits suicide. After the controversy surrounding the series following its release last year, it was not a wise decision to come out with another season, especially since it doesn’t follow along with the book.
Known for romanticizing suicide, “13 Reasons Why” should have been an unproblematic, eye-opening series that started a positive conversation between parents, counselors and children dealing with the problems highlighted in the show. Instead, the show tends to use graphic scenes for shock value almost as if to scare viewers into treating others with respect because they don’t know what the other person is going through.
“Treat others as you wish to be treated” is a great message but it gets lost in the series. One of the main issues that the series discusses is bullying. Most of the scenes that involve this issue are very intense and graphic, showing the most difficult experiences that a person might endure. The message of kindness is lost in these scenes because the show implies that only those dealing with extreme situations deserve fair treatment. Viewers should instead be taught to be nice to everyone, no matter the circumstance.
If anyone is sensitive to topics such as bullying, drug abuse, sexual assault, mental illness, sexual content or gun violence, they should not watch the show– or should at least approach it with caution. This series is rated TV-MA, designed to be viewed by adults and may be considered inappropriate for those under the age of 17. The rating is certainly well-earned. Viewers that have personally dealt with the major themes of the show could be triggered by the explicit scenes featured in the episodes.
The show tends to use graphic scenes for shock value, almost as if to scare viewers into treating others with respect.
Before the season starts, the “13 Reasons Why” cast appears in a disclaimer stating that those sensitive to the topics mentioned above should not watch this series or should watch it with a trusted adult. At the end of every episode, the show directs viewers to the “13 Reasons Why” website, which has a list of resources, including a crisis text line, a suicide prevention lifeline, a discussion guide and a plethora of other links that are included to help viewers. Though this is helpful, those affected by such issues should not watch this series at all because of the disturbing scenes displayed.
One of the focuses of this season is, if Baker had reached out and spoken of her experiences, her school counselor might have been able to help her and possibly prevent her tragic death from occurring. The season also explores the possibility that, if Baker hadn’t internalized her thoughts and had opened up to her parents, they would have been able to help. Ironically, the series does the exact same thing that all of the adult characters do throughout the show: they rely on the child to open up so they can help.
While the first season in its entirety was comparatively more intense than the second, this season has an increased amount of intense scenes that may be difficult to watch. In addition, many of the characters in this season have problems that they tend to ignore. But those that actually reach out and receive the help they need, such as Jessica Davis (a victim of rape) and Skye Miller (who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder), seem happy at the end of the season.
The approach taken by “13 Reasons Why” can only enhance the pain of viewers that have dealt with loss.
This attempts to encourage viewers that need help to speak to their parents, which may be the only somewhat decent message sent by this season. The only problem is that, again, getting help requires the person that’s struggling to feel comfortable enough to reach out and talk about it.
One very odd feature of this season is that the main character, Clay Jensen, continues to talk to the ghost of Baker. It makes no sense that Clay is still able to speak to Baker after her suicide. No one is able to talk to someone after they die, so why does Clay get this special privilege? It would be beneficial for viewers to see a well-liked character deal with the loss of a loved one constructively and to believe they are not alone. Instead, the approach taken by “13 Reasons Why” could only enhance the pain of viewers that have dealt with loss.
Overall, season two of “13 Reasons Why” is far too intense and expects its viewers to do something that even one of the main characters in the show couldn’t– reach out. The show should have been far less graphic and focused on sending messages of kindness and tolerance more constructively. This way, younger viewers that internalize their problems could watch the show and be encouraged to reach out and get help. The show failed to be as progressive and life-changing as it aimed to be because of all of the elements that it wrongfully included.
- Some small humorous moments
- Attempts to start an important conversation concerning mental health and bullying
- Expects viewers to reach out and get help on their own
- Too many unnecessary graphic scenes
- Messages are not clear
- Does not follow the book
Photo courtesy of Netflix