Warning: this article contains spoilers for 13 Reasons Why.
An adaptation of Jay Asher’s 2007 novel, Thirteen Reasons Why, debuted on Netflix in March, and has since found itself at the centre of a national conversation regarding bullying, mental health, and censorship. The series focuses on Hannah Baker, a high schooler who leaves behind a series of tapes to listen to after she commits suicide, with each tape encompassing one of the reasons for her death.
Responses to the show have ranged from glowing praise to stern admonishment regarding the show’s depictions of graphic scenes, including those of sexual assault and self-harm. Some critics have also suggested that the show depicts suicide as a logical endpoint to abuse, and does not pay significant attention to the role of mental illness and depression in such incidences.
We asked our contributors to weigh in on whether or not a second season of 13 Reasons Why is necessary, and how this might affect the show’s original impact. The writing in this article does not identify the specific illnesses that the characters in 13 Reasons Why are diagnosed with due to the lack of medical information provided by the show itself.
Though 13 Reasons Why has sparked a lot of controversy due to its graphic depictions of suicide and sexual assault, I was thrilled to hear the announcement of its upcoming return for a second season.
The finale left the audience with many unanswered questions, like whether or not Bryce Walker remains unharmed by his crimes because of his wealth and privilege. Further, apart from Clay and arguably Bryce, every student involved in Hannah’s suicide was unjustly punished. In her tapes, Hannah selfishly exposed the assault of her former friend Jessica Davis, a story that was not her own to share, so Jessica experienced the most harm.
Whether 13 Reasons Why was detrimental or not, the teens affected by Hannah’s tapes deserve another season for redemption and recovery. Without a second season, 13 Reasons Why will have glorified Hannah’s cruel revenge and failed to explore the deeper reasons behind the existence of rape culture.
— Carol Eugene Park
I hope that the second season of 13 Reasons Why will move away from Hannah’s story and toward Clay Jensen’s. I’d also like to see the ensemble of secondary characters conquer their demons, something Hannah was not able to do. For example, one of the first season’s cliffhangers shows Alex Standall, Hannah’s former best friend, shooting himself. Should the character survive, I would like to see him grow from his attempted suicide. I would also like to see Courtney Crimsen’s coming out story, and the other characters’ realization that it is better to support one another than to tear each other down because of our differences.
Season one depicts the darkness of teenage bullying as Hannah falls into a downward spiral until her suicide. The second season should be the opposite: a story about rebirth and recovery, disregarding the societal norms of high school, and exploring mental health as an important topic to be discussed and not neglected.
— Nicole Sciulli
A second season of 13 Reasons Why feels unnecessary at this point, and is another example of the real reasons the series was produced in the first place: commercial success and profit. Nonetheless, if a second season is coming, I’d certainly appreciate an extended focus on mental illness, which serves as a driving force for suicide and self-destructive behaviour.
The first season barely explored the depths of mental illness, painting Hannah Baker’s suicide as an act fuelled by vengeance rather than as part of her illness. The depth of Hannah’s depression was left unaddressed, limiting the complexity of her actions to a teenage revenge fantasy.
— Laura Seijas Figueredo
There has been a lot of buzz surrounding Netflix’s show 13 Reasons Why, not all of it good. The accusations of the show having glamourized teenage suicide caused me to wonder if a second season was really necessary. The continuation might further this negative reception by continuing to glamourize the aftermath of Hannah taking her own life. If the show is to retain the same cast and setting for season two, it may result in complications while the characters continue to debate who, if anyone, is responsible for Hannah’s death.
— Nicolle Iovanov