Has 13 Reasons Why gone too far?

‘It’s important to make teens realize the influence they have over others’ – Jay Asher

I feel like in the last week and a half I’ve driven Dave and my friends crazy over the second season of 13 Reasons Why so much so, I think they’re all seriously considering breaking up with me. So I thought it best to channel all my thoughts into one place seeing as none of them seem in any rush to get it watched so we can discuss it. Apart from Dave who I made sit through it all with me.

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For anyone who isn’t familiar, 13 Reasons Why is a Netflix series about a teenage girl (Hannah Baker) who commits suicide but leaves behind cassette tapes to be distributed to her classmates explaining why she did it. Although in my opinion it should be called 12 Reasons Why as one of her original ‘reasons’ isn’t actually a reason, But that’s by the by.

Anyway, i was obsessed with the first season, I though it was one of the best things I’d watched on TV for a really long time. Casting, story line, script were all outstanding and they really didn’t hold back when filming some of the more gruesome scene. Two in particular (and I promised a no spoiler review even though you really should have seen season 1 by now you slow coach) were extremely difficult to watch and went on at least 30 seconds too long; you’ll know which two I’m talking about.

So needless to so I was so excited when season two started streaming. In fact I watched it all in 1 (very hungover) day. Since the first season was based on the book by Jay Asher, and everything seemed to be all tied up, I was interested to see how they would approach a second season; would they take these really strong complex characters and develop them even more or were they just flogging a dead horse?

In my opinion? A bit of both. We do learn a lot more about some of the characters who were on the periphery of the story in s1 (Tyler, Alex and Zach particularly) all 3 of which become quite important to the new story. We also learn more about Hannah in the lead up to her suicide and discover she may not have been as squeaky clean as first thought.

Funnily enough, at the end of S02E12 I was thinking to myself how tame the series had been in comparison to S1. Any uncomfortable scenes were merely flashbacks therefore nothing you hadn’t seen before and was left at the end of that episode wondering where they could go as everything seemed, again to be wrapped up and closed off. No further questions your honour. Then episode 13 happened and my life has been forever changed.

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In episode 13, despite the warnings they show before, there is a scene (minute 38-39 if you’re interested) which is absolutely, without a doubt the worse thing I have ever seen on TV (or film) in my whole life. And I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since. Not only because of how brutal and graphic is it, but also how it comes out of absolutely nowhere and is totally extreme compared to anything else that has been in the season up to that point. In the minute that ‘the scene’ ran for I had to turn away twice and needed a cuddle afterwards.

My biggest concern about the whole thing, not just that scene in particular, although forms the main basis of my opinion is that despite the 18 rating, this programme is clearly aimed at a YA if not teenage audience. And if me with my 35 years at the university of life, can quite frankly get so f*cked up from watching a TV show, I dread to think how the teenage mind processes that kind of content.

Season 2 also raises the issue of glamourising suicide. Yes the suicide scene at the end of season 1 is graphic and in no way glamourous; nevertheless, the fact that Hannah comes back in the form of ghost like visions can give the impression that suicide isn’t final. That you can end it but you’ll still live on as visions in people’s minds.

There’s a lot to be said for ‘keeping it real’ that in life there isn’t a fairytale ending, and sometimes the good guys do finish last, and the baddies don’t get caught, so in that respect i think the show is spot on. And I completely understand that these things *do* happen and there needs to be education and conversation not only around mental health and sexual assault and believe me no one welcomes that change more than me. The nasty things in life don’t ever come with a warning.

So, has 13 Reasons Why gone too far? Perhaps i’m just a massive softie but in my opinion in episode s02e13, yes it has. That scene is now forever ingrained on my brain and has become the screen saver of my mind. And that’s not a nice image to be constantly thinking about. They could have alluded to what was going on quite easily without it being so graphic.

If you’ve seen it, leave your thoughts and comments below, no spoilers though please (they will be swiftly deleted!)

2 Comments

  1. Beverley May 30, 2018 / 6:31 am

    I LOVED the first season, it was excellent and it was one of the best things I watched last year (book is rubbish though!). I made a decision a while ago not to watch season two as I feel very uncomfortable that they’ve used it to show another side to Hannah as if to justify the bullying etc. The first season was so powerful that this just feels like a money making thing rather than being about good storytelling and important issues.

  2. Newcastle Family Life May 30, 2018 / 9:08 am

    I recently watched the second series too and felt so uncomfortable with that scene. I was watching it as a mum to a teenage daughter who watches the show (as I wanted to know what she was watching) and thought it was too graphic for the audience. X

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