Spoiler Alert– I give away some of the detail from the show 13 Reasons Why in this post.
So, I just finished watching the 2nd season of 13 Reasons Why. This show absolutely terrifies me.
If you haven’t heard of the TV show- it’s about a high school teenager, Hannah, that is bullied at her high school, and commits suicide. After doing so, one of her best friends receives a package. In it contains 13 cassette tapes explaining 13 reasons why she did it. Each tape discusses a person at her high school that bullied or wronged her. The culmination of the incidents drove her to end her life.
The beginning of Season 2 picks up where the 1st season left off. It covers a wider gamut of issues that teenagers face besides suicide. It touches upon intervention, addiction, bullying, social isolation and sexual assault. These are very mature themes and are the reason Netflix assigned it a rating of MA for mature audiences. So, although it is about teenagers, the themes are very serious.
If you have not watched this show yet, but you have a teenager that wants to watch it, you may want to watch the series alone, first, so you can prepare yourself with how to talk to your teenagers about the social issues they will see.
In the second season, we witness the male sexual assault of one of Hannah’s fellow students, Tyler. This is a crime that does happen in real life. Crimes of sexual assault are not sex crimes- but they are crimes of violence. The scene is pretty violent and shows him being beaten and assaulted by several teenage boys in his high school locker room. I am not a huge fan of shock scenes- scenes so shocking to get your attention and make a statement. But the producers intentionally filmed the scene this way to create empathy from the viewers and to make you feel Tyler’s pain.
The consequence of this leads Tyler to his social isolation, and how and why he turns to obtaining multiple guns. School shootings are another fear that many parents today are facing too often. When a show or movie decides to portray guns and violence- some of them are trying to address these problems with a greater responsibility. If we are not talking about it- it doesn’t mean this is not happening. Teenagers are incredibly emotional and impulsive. They are the last ones that should have access to or possession of guns.
The trial against the school is the backdrop of Season 2. It’s about finding out who is responsible for Hannah’s death. It also talks a lot about the guns, the prevention of the school shooting, and a lot of the fighting. We also find out the fate of the bully and most popular kid in school, Bryce Walker. Bryce is the one that allegedly raped Jessica (one of Hannah’s best friends). This situation, and the handling of the rape, shines a light on another issue that occurs in high schools and college campuses all over the country. The main turning point of this entire season is when Jessica is in court and she names Bryce Walker as her rapist.
In Season 1, we see Clay hearing about Hannah’s suicide and listening to all of the tapes of why. Hannah is explaining in her own voice why she chose to end her life. In Season 2, we see Clay trying to move on after Hannah’s death. He really is unable to move on. He sees her. He talks to her. And he can’t let go of her. But Clay is not the only one trying to recover this season.
Bryce, being the predatory abuser and accused rapist, but also the most popular jock in school, needs to recover from all of the mistakes he has made in the past. He needs to face the consequences and see how it affects his future after high school.
Alex is recovering from his botched suicide attempt at the end of season 1. He has to deal with the physical limitations he has placed on himself, as well as the social implications and emotions of trying to put his life back together.
My Final Thoughts
13 Reasons Why really is about so many things. There are so many interwoven story lines. So many characters each with their own set of challenges. The show is about the complicity of silence. It’s about the take down of the club house. The club house, of course, is a metaphor of rape culture at high schools and college campuses everywhere.
13 Reasons Why is also about complicated relationships. Where Justin goes to jail for Jessica when she finally names her rapist. It’s about unresolved feelings. Like Hannah and Zack’s secret relationship. He was too embarrassed to tell his Mom or his friends about secretly dating Hannah. Its such an important relationship as remembered in Season 2 because it shows Hannah in a positive relationship, unlike many of the other relationships she describes on the tapes in Season 1.
There is so much controversy surrounding the show and its topics. I first watched it out of curiosity, and then I continued because I had to see what happened. I didn’t enjoy watching both seasons. However, I thought it necessary to see what the show was about.