Whether or not you’re a subscriber to Netflix, just about everyone has heard the buzz surrounding their latest original series 13 Reasons Why. For the most part, people seem to be on two sides when discussing the show. They either agree wholeheartedly with the critics that the show about a teen’s suicide is an excellent exploration of the emotional and physical struggles of high school life, or you believe the program has romanticized and exploited suicide and is doing more harm than good for sufferers of mental illness. Regardless of how you personally feel about the show, 13 Reasons Why has still proved itself to be a resounding success for the streaming service, and a second season has recently been announced. And while this may make sense to some, seeing as to how it became a popular program to watch and a second season seems reasonable to expect, there are also a few concerns that come with this announcement.
[WARNING: SOME SPOILERS WILL BE DISCUSSED]
So Hannah’s story has been told. The thirteen tapes have made their way all around her high school to the thirteen people, who affected her life one way or another. Everyone from the good-natured, but passive Clay (Dylan Minnette) to a counselor that failed to help Hannah when she really needed it, Hannah Baker’s (Katherine Langford) life was able to get the recognition it needed without falling to the fantasies of her former peers. Protagonist Clay has, in his own way, grown from the experience, and has moved forward past this ordeal in accepting the loss of someone he had loved. So, why exactly do we need a second season of this story? Well, co-show runner Brian Yorkey was quoted in the Los Angeles Times as saying:
“Hannah’s story isn’t over — she has parents who still don’t have the complete story, there’s a rapist who hasn’t been brought to justice and there’s a living survivor of that rapist who is just beginning her journey of recovery.”
While that is true to a degree, it’s not like these situations were all that open-ended when the final episode rolled around. Hannah’s parents got a hold of all her recordings and were sitting down to listen to them, monstrous Bryce (Justin Prentice) had been recorded admitting to raping Hannah, and fellow victim Jessica (Alisha Boe) was ready to open up to her father about the ordeal. There were only two situations that really hadn’t been explored at the last-minute to ensure the possibility of a season two, and these were Alex’s (Miles Heizer) hospitalization for a gunshot to his head and Tyler (Devin Druid) possibly plotting a school shooting. Both of these events were in the final episode, rarely, if ever, covered in any of the other twelve episodes season one had to offer. In all honesty, when Alex was revealed to have possibly attempted suicide in the final episode, I kind of sighed in derision. The first thing that popped into my mind was the thought of Alex doing the same thing as Hannah, making a different set of thirteen cassette recordings explaining why he did it, and this time the show would be called “13 More Reasons Why.” If this is the direction they do end up going with, I can imagine the second season will completely bomb.
On the other hand, there’s Tyler’s story of possibly plotting to commit a mass shooting at the high school. Despite being a massive pervert for spying on Hannah and taking inappropriate pictures of her with classmate Courtney (Michele Selene Ang), Tyler himself had become a victim of the bullying that Hannah had similarly endured. Whether you believe this was justified or not is entirely up to you, but classmates had begun throwing rocks through his window when they discovered what Tyler had done to Hannah. Even Clay formed his own style of revenge by taking an inappropriate picture of Tyler in the nude and texting it to everyone, the same way Tyler had done with Hannah. What’s worse is that Tyler couldn’t even count on the same people who had also wronged Hannah, because they chose to believe he was the worst of them all, and excluded him from their little group that was hellbent on trying to disprove Hannah’s tapes. This will likely boil over into season two, where we find out what the purpose of all his guns hiding in his camera case truly serves.
But what’s the point of bringing all this up? Well, is all this really enough to carry a show into a second season? If the next batch of episodes do really focus on Alex’s suicide, isn’t the point of Hannah’s story completely lost? With no second novel to base the narrative off of, like they did with the first season, will they have enough to capture audiences the same way? Not to mention, there’s already a large helping of controversy surrounding the show as it is, since some feel the show perpetuates the idea that suicide is a beautiful thing (to which I question if they even watched Hannah’s suicide scene, as I didn’t find it beautiful, I found it incredibly hard to watch and heart wrenching). Some fans have already been turned off by what they feel is a show that treats the subject matter with distaste, rather than trying to offer a solution to teenage depression. Will Netflix be able to answer some of the questions fans and critics have about the issues? Only time will tell, since a second season is officially on for production. But the real question remains, will Paramount Television have enough material to work with to keep the spirit of season one alive, or are we just being ham-fisted a slew of story lines just for the sake of making more Netflix dough?
The announcement for a second season of 13 Reasons Why was released yesterday, so an official date has not been set. However, you should keep an eye out for it pop up sometime next year. Which side are you on? Do you feel the show is another Netflix dramatic gem, or do you believe the show has done more harm than good?
If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.