Season one of the Netflix original “13 Reasons Why” aired on March 31, 2017 and the world immediately erupted into distress over the controversial topics the show covered. On May 18, 2018, the world was yet again hit with a storm as season two aired over Netflix.
The first season was based off of the book “13 Reasons Why” by Jay Asher, but writer Kirk Moore used his creative license while creating the second season. Moore had to be sure that the sequel more properly portrayed and explained the thought-provoking messages that producer Selena Gomez and director Kat Kandler thought was necessary.
While the first season focuses on the suicide of Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford) and the tapes she left for the people that influenced her to chose death over life, the second season focuses on the legal results of Baker taking her life.
Season two occurs five months after the tragedy and, along with the legal processes, focuses more on the coping process for the characters. In court, the Baker family claims their daughter’s high school was responsible for her death. Many of the show’s main characters are required to give a testimony in court, allowing insight into the characters’ lives.
The first season portrayed themes and messages that glorify suicide, depicted adults as incapable of helping, and lacked necessary precautions for graphic scenes, which were often thought of as unnecessary. Season two of the teen-mystery-thriller offers a vast and more accurate interpretation of these topics compared to its predecessor.
In season one, the show moved fairly quickly as everyone has an obsessive sensation in their mind to figure out what the characters on the tapes did to Baker. It was easier for her to punish her peers rather than own up to her feelings. Her friends were regretful for their past actions, and that acted as justification for Baker’s choice, resulting in the glorification of suicide.
When Baker left those tapes for her once-friends, she was getting a sense of revenge. It was easy for watchers to feel sympathy for Baker and hate her oppressors, for only Baker’s side of the story was told. Baker also chose a permanent solution to her temporary problems, blaming them on her peers, but ultimately she was the one to kill herself. This distorted telling of events in the first season made viewers think Baker’s suicide was okay because she had such a hard life and the tape-listeners deserved to suffer.
On the contrary, season two has scenes directed toward explaining why Baker’s suicide was not okay and how it put each character under a microscope, showing how they were impacted by the loss of their friend or loved one. It clearly conveys that suicide is not justified through revenge and others people’s actions.
“Season one had such a controversy surrounding it and I kind of agreed with it. I saw both sides, but it was to easy to believe Hannah’s friends deserved to suffer because of what they did to her. The second season really made me realize that it was Hannah who did what she did, not her friends,” said freshman Ria Patel.
In season one, Baker makes comments to her parents and some school officials about how she is feeling. It is also said that Baker did not try enough to save her life and ask for help, but people must remember that it is not easy to talk about insecurities. The first 13 episodes make adults and trained workers seem incompetent in helping Baker.
One of the tapes is specifically directed toward a guidance counselor, Mr. Porter (Derek Luke), and explains how he simply made the situation worse. However, in the second season, the audience can see how Mr. Porter is dealing with the things he had said and done.
Freshman Caroline Guerin says, “It was so horrible to see someone who is supposed to be a trained professional turn down a teen who is clearly asking for help. It was just gross. It made me think that no one could help her and she was past saving.”
Porter, alongside other faculty and adults in season two, play a more vital role in the children’s lives. Through the adult’s view, it becomes clear that suicide is never one person’s fault and no one can be held accountable. It is also expressed that there are people to help if one is having suicidal thoughts and that no one is ever alone.
The show has also been heavily ridiculed for its overly-graphic content, even with its mature rating. In the first season, watchers see Baker slit her wrists and watch acts of sexual assault, including rape.
Many professionals argued that seeing those scenes are inappropriate and unnecessary. However, it is brought to viewers’ attention that after all the media coverage the high schoolers are going through, the students are still acting cruel toward their peers.
“I can’t stand what they think is reality, and [this] show is real as it could possibly get. Unfortunately, kids don’t care. They don’t care,” Gomez said. “They have to see something that’s going to scare them. They need to see something that’s frightening.”
The graphics in both seasons may be to the extreme scenario, but it is arguably necessary to illustrate the harsh topics to help future society.
Season two is notably more graphic than the first; however, as the problems and drama in the school increase, the graphic content is to simply make viewers more aware.
Freshman Celia Braswell says, “It was extremely graphic, but it made me realize that there are people out there doing these horrible things. It made me want to stand up to bullies and help the ones I see who need it.”
While the show has improved many of the critical stances it once took, it is still not the best show for everyone. The topics the show goes over are still triggering and possibly traumatic.
Everyone reacts differently to bullying, depression, and other hard-hitting issues. There is no right answer, nor is any story black and white. While watching the Netflix original, it is advised to keep an open mind and review it for oneself.
How do you feel about “13 Reasons Why” season two? Is it helping or harming children?