Why Thirteen Reasons Why?
“Hey remember that show? Thirteen Reasons Why?” That seems to be a question that’s circulating around DHS. The show Thirteen Reasons Why premiered over a year ago on Netflix on March 31, 2017, but is surprisingly returning for a second season. The show dually follows Clay Jensen and Hannah Baker, two high school students. It begins two weeks after Hannah has taken her own life, when Clay finds a mysterious box on his doorstep. Within the box lies seven tapes, double-sided. The tapes convey the thirteen reasons why Hannah chose to commit suicide. Each tape is dedicated to a different person that Hannah believed drove her to commit suicide. Clay,who was in love with Hannah but was too shy to ever tell her, decided to listen to the tapes. He struggles to get through each one, and has nightmares wondering about his contribution to her death. While he goes through the tapes, we gain insight into both Hannah and Clay’s lives, as the story moves through the points of view of both, traveling between the past and present.
The show was intended to have only one season as to accurately portray Hannah’s suicide story, and the effect on those who were in her life. It was also intended to be an accurate representation of the original novel. That’s why adolescents and adults alike were left wondering questions like,why or how the show could continue when Netflix announced that the show would indeed have a second season. In US Weekly’s May 8th article, ’13 Reasons Why’Season 2 Reveals ‘Hannah Wasn’t the Only One’: Watch First Trailer, it was revealed that even Dylan Minnette, the actor who plays Clay Jensen, stated, “ I felt like this whole thing was going to be over, but it’s not”.
Many viewers and critics do not want the show to continue, Entertainment Weekly’s article, 13 Reasons Why 13 Reasons Why Shouldn’t Have a Second Season, even went as far as expressing thirteen reasons why Thirteen Reasons Why should not return. They explained, Hannah’s story is over. The audience has heard all her tapes, which were the main focus points of the first season. Hannah’s last wish has been fulfilled, and she likely got more closure than she expected. Entertainment Weekly adamantly expresses that “there’s no need for a follow up on Hannah’s parents and their lawsuit- this isn’t a court drama. The important thing for her parents was always to get answers, to understand their daughter’s decision, and now that they have the tapes, they’ll get what they want”. They also argue that there are too many dark and obvious loose ends. These include Alex’s apparent suicide attempt, and Tyler’s mysterious mission. In season two these could be exploited, and thrust the show into more of a crime thriller or a mystery. This would completely betray the series’ original message, as well as create an extremely unrealistic environment. Season one already branched into the unlikely by presenting not one, but two suicide attempts, “another high schooler talk about contemplating suicide (while in possession of a gun), and another buy a gun in an ally”.
It is also argued that the series will play too much into character arcs, instead of letting the audience fill in the blanks, which would be more compelling. And, returning to the point of dragging out court room drama, Bryce has already confessed, and “nobody needs to watch Bryce try to worm his way out of this”. It is argued that this would even defeat Hannah’s point because it would show “hours of Bryce using his myriad resources to avoid punishment. . .(and) would cause more pain for Jessica”. Then there is of course the separate idea that Justin has already left, which would lead the show to either randomly follow him, or exclude the character all together. And, the also separate idea that we simply don’t need to see certain characters again, it is unnecessary to bring Porter back into the story line, his ending is better left open; as is the relationship between Tony and Clay.
And, almost no one wants to redress the repertory mentions of secondary characters like Ryan, Zach, Marcus, Courtney, or even Bryce. There stories have already been dragged out long enough. And, characters like Jeff, who should have had more screen time, will likely not be given it. All in all, the characters have been through enough, and if the story continues there will be the looming obstacle of finding a way to somehow involve Hannah, the main focus of the entire series.
In addition to these arguments, the Parents Television Council (PTV) has become concerned about the safety of allowing adolescents to view the controversial show. At one point, they even called on “Netflix to refrain from releasing Season Two of 13 Reasons Why until experts in the scientific community have determined it to be safe for consumption by an audience that is comprised heavily of minor children”. They make the argument that adolescents who view the show will likely from an emotional connection to the characters, and potentially model themselves off of them, which could be dangerous, as the show deals with serious matters such as depression, suicide, bullying, sexual harassment, and rape. Netflix has even had to allow new restrictions, recording new content warnings, and explaining what views can do if they are affected by the show.
Darien High school principal, Mrs. Ellen Dunn, picking up on the controversy of the show, even sent an email around March of last year, to parents and students alike, that the show contained serious content, and could potentially have an impact on them/their children if they were showing signs of depression.
The show has been raved by many as a great show. Psychology Today in their May 16th article, 13 Reasons Why: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, even explained that the show has “opened the door for families and communities to discuss life as a teenager in the 21rst Century. Specifically, the kinds of social pressures that occur for some children and teens – the microaggressions found in hallways, school buses, lunch rooms, online and otherwise, as well as traumatic issues of bullying, social injustice, sexual assault and suicide”. The show has shown the spotlight on suicide, leading more people to be conscious of their actions, and their feelings towards the matter. The show has even sparked “a surge of calls worldwide to suicide and mental hotlines perhaps helping many viewers to recognize their need for professional mental health care”.
Contrary viewpoints often emerge both within media and with Darien High School. Sophomore Amanda Laura, raved that the show “must return. It’s a great show, and deserves more screen time, they are helping to spread suicide awareness,and demonstrating to kids who are suffering from depression, that they are not alone”. Meanwhile, sophomore Miraal Masqood disagreed, arguing, “the show has some pretty strong messages that could be dangerous to younger kids. Suicide is addressed and is not necessarily thrown into a positive light, but the series does center around the suicide of Hannah Baker, who made somewhat of an effort to convey how she was feeling, however in the end created tapes that placed blame on others, some who aren’t too stable themselves”. And sophomore Nadejda Radoulov remained neutral, stating, “The show has both good and bad aspects. I’m not entirely sure that the show should return or end. Season one portrays a series of strong and understandably controversial topics. Some may feel that the show would personally benefit them, and others alike. While, others may receive a negative take away from the idea that the show is continued, as if Hannah’s story was not enough, or that Netflix is simply capitalizing on an extremely emotional, and dangerous concept for teens, and adults, alike. That they do not care about suicide, or helping emotionally distressed teens, but only profiting off of them”.
Regardless of conflicting viewpoint the show will return on Friday, May 18th, focusing around different points of view on Hannah’s story, Jessica’s story, and journey towards recovery, Bryce and his potential consequences, and the idea of how society raises boys, and if we are facilitating a rape culture. Netflix’s official twitter has also implied that there will be a new narrator, one that is not Hannah. Negative and positive media is expected upon the arrival of the second season, however one should make their decision on the show independently, if granted parental approval.