After its controversial first season, 13 Reasons Why came back for a second season with a deeper look at Hannah Baker’s life and what led her to end it. While reviews on season two vary, most seem to be in agreement on one thing: it simply was not as good as season one and wasn’t even necessary.
But nothing in life is absolute; there are still good things about the season that can match the bad aspects. Don’t panic, there are no major spoilers here; we just want you to know what to expect.
Season two covers the trial of the lawsuit Hannah’s parents filed against Liberty High, and through each testimony we begin to understand that life is not black and white. Season one portrayed Hannah as an angelic girl who was surrounded by wolves in varsity jackets. This portrayal not only glorified her action of taking her own life (hence all the real life copycat suicides that followed), but it also made it seem like she was absolutely perfect without a single flaw. She has been through a horrible ordeal no woman should ever experience, but not everyone around her is pure evil.
Hannah is not made to be a devil, but we get to see the other side of the story. Every action has a motivation and a backstory, even those of her schoolmates. This humanizes the characters (some of them, at least) and lets us know that we shouldn’t just take one narrative and disregard the other. Hannah navigated season one, and it was time for the people around her to take the reins. But did they do that skillfully? Not so much.
The writing is so redundant and problematic, and that can only be noticed when it’s so overused it gets to a point of “enough is enough!” It’s understandable that a high school drama would be dramatic, but the writing often seems to lack direction, and the dialogue is becoming too cheesy to endure.
With all the new conspiracies taking place in the second season, it’s unclear whether the writers really do want to address sensitive matters or if they’re just trying to take the drama up a notch for more viewership. The season is painful to watch; no satisfying endings, no proper closure on a number of matters. If a young teen watches it, they will feel like the world will always be an awful place and that justice will never, ever prevail. Does that negatively impact the message they are trying to send about suicide and sexual abuse? Quite possibly.
It’s understandable that the creators don’t want to sugarcoat such serious matters, but it reaches a point where the entire show exudes a general theme of hopelessness. And that is the exact opposite of what troubled teens need to hear. It’s a debatable point, but it needs to be on the table.
Season two begins with shots of the actors letting us know that viewer discretion is advised, and urging those struggling with suicidal thoughts to reach out for help. Each episode begins with a warning and ends with a link to relevant resources for troubled individuals, and after finishing the season, it’s clear that these warnings should be taken very, very seriously.
At the beginning it felt like something they just had to do in order to avoid liability and prevent future copycat suicides, but the finale shows that some of the scenes can disturb kids and adults alike.
In regards to the most graphic scene in season two (in the finale, to be exact), Creator Brian Yorkey defends his decision by saying: “When we talk about something being ‘disgusting’ or hard to watch, often that means we are attaching shame to the experience. We would rather not be confronted with it. We would rather it stay out of our consciousness,” adding, “Talking about it is so much better than silence.”
It sounds like a good reason, and it makes sense, but viewers were just so disturbed by the extremely graphic nature of the scene. It’s completely understandable that parents are calling for the show to be cancelled; if someone in their late 20s or 30s is so shaken up by the content, how the hell is an 18 year old supposed to react?
On Twitter, one user wrote: “It’s just ironic how in a show that’s [made] to help raise awareness for mental health it triggers it further by including scenes like that.”
Of course, there are people who disagree and feel like since tragic incidents do happen in real life they need to be discussed, to which the user responds to by saying: “There’s a difference between getting a point across and overdoing it.”
This is very, very important. The show needs to get its point across and educate viewers on how suicide is not the answer, but it definitely overdid it in season two. This just makes us worry about what to expect in season three.
If you are easily triggered, then be very careful watching this season, particularly the finale. And if you’re experiencing troubling thoughts, seek help instead of watching. While in Egypt we do not have the wealth of resources other countries do, there are still ways to get help.