Please note: this post contains SPOILERS for Thirteen Reasons Why Season Two, including references to events in Season One of this TV series.

The content in this post may be triggering or harmful, if you believe reading about this TV series may be detrimental to your mental health, please stop now.

Side note about this post: I actually wrote this for a class assignment thing, and was a little hesitant to post it since this is such a controversial topic, but since I addressed it last year with this post I decided to do it again. This is my opinion, and my opinion alone; it is not professional, and not influenced by anyone with relation to the show. If you're still reading this: I hope you like reading my sarcastic and harshly critical view on this show; if not, I don't blame you. 

There’s always been a lot of drama surrounding the TV series Thirteen Reasons Why; some people like it, some people find it problematic, and others say it’s dangerous and romanticizes self harm and suicide. I’m generally against the show, and I believe that it could be detrimental to one’s mental health as it graphically depicts harmful scenes such as rape, drug use and sexual harassment. In the second season there is also a graphic depiction of a violent bullying scene. Despite all of this, I still watch the show, mainly out of curiosity rather than genuine interest in the content of the show. In a way I feel that I need to watch it if only just to give myself peace of mind and a healthy “this is a terrible show” mindset after watching it. I also think that compared to some teens, particularly those in the gun loving country of America I am watching this show from a much more analytical, ‘adult’ view rather than as a teen seeing it as entertainment.

Those who defend the show claim that the story needs to be told like so because the issue of suicide isn’t addressed enough in the media. While I’m inclined to agree, I don’t think this TV show is the right platform to address these issues, and believe that if they created a new project to talk about these sensitive topics it would be far more effective and well liked than something based on an arguably problematic and suicide glorifying book written by someone who is not a professional expert on suicide. For instance, even a common topic on TV, bullying is done terribly in this show! I would definitely support a new show made to tackle the tough issues aimed at teen audiences, with a new production team which cared less about earning money and more about making a quality TV show talking about important global problems.

I think season two was a lot more problematic than season one. While I thought there was a reason for doing season one and making it line up with the book, which is told in thirteen chapters, the second season seemed unnecessary, to say the least. I thought they did a relatively good job with season two in terms of the plot and characters, up until the last episode, which was a terrible attempt at targeting another hot controversial topic in america right now and making more money out of the show in the process: school shootings. This particular part of the season felt rushed and the “clues” left throughout the season barely fit into the general story and seemed more like addition justification for their address of school shootings than a decent story.

I actually enjoyed season one and thought that 90% of it was good content, but season two was more like 40%. I was in a good state of mental health when I watched season two so it didn’t really impact me in a negative way however I definitely agree that it is potentially dangerous and harmful for teen audiences, particularly unsupervised, to be watching this show especially if their minds aren’t in a good state at the time. Yes, Netflix has trigger warnings and the show is rated RP18 but since it’s on a streaming service there isn’t really much anyone can do to stop people from watching it without supervision despite its rating. This season had less graphic depictions of sexual abuse and rape, and I felt that in the episodes where there were trigger warnings nothing much actually happened that I thought was overly harmful. In this regard, the second season was better, but comparatively it is definitely still worse than season one especially with the toxic, revolting bathroom bullying scene. Dunking the guy’s head in the toilet a few times would’ve been far enough to stop, but shoving a mop up his ass? Repulsive and so indescribably foolish.

While parts of the show are good I still think that too much of it could be harmful and really, the show should be stopped. Yet recently it was just announced that Netflix would renew it for a third season; which really doesn’t surprise me, but there are way more tv shows which Netflix hasn’t renewed that are far more valuable to teens, with much more inspirational and well delivered messages. Statistics show that after the show was released for the next three weeks suicide was trending in google searches, and for those who binge watched the show for thirteen hours straight the world of Liberty High almost became their own which had an extremely negative and dangerous effect on them. Show producers consulted mental health experts regarding content in the show, particularly how graphic their scenes should be, yet after hearing their viewpoint completely disregarded it and explored everything in haunting detail.

There were so many subplots which I did not see any point for them to include, unless they wanted to drag the story out for another season, which of course was their ulterior motive all along. One such example all the scenes involving Kevin Porter, the school counsellor. I thought the amount of screentime he got was stupid especially as he had a minimal role in the book as well as season one’s interpretation of the book. Again, the producers keep wanting to continue monetising this show despite its harmful natures, and to do this but also keep a certain percentage of critics happy they decided to tackle another issue: school shootings. This was another major subplot which was brought across quite subtly, but by the end all the earlier scenes fell together to create the moment of intrigue at the very end of episode thirteen. There are many reasons I had an issue with this idea, and it has nothing to do with the idea really. The idea, in itself, is a good one; but the context of the show makes it absolutely terrible. So much of the plot was just an excuse for them to say, “Hey Netflix, we need another season at least to close off all these new plot lines we’ve opened!” and the lengths they would go to just to continue the show disgusts me. The court case the Bakers opened against Liberty High School at the end of season one was also overly dramaticized and way too big a part of the plot.

On a more positive note, the plot line about Justin getting over his drug addiction was my favourite of the season, and perhaps, other than the Clubhouse plot line, the only one I actually enjoyed. But even these two plots were tainted by the money hungry producers, and the two example scenes I think of in particular are Justin getting high again in episode thirteen and it being revealed that the box of incriminating polaroids from the Clubhouse was actually stolen by Nina which they try and justify by talking about her rape. I liked the Clubhouse because I felt was a realistic interpretation of what (stereotypical) confident American jocks would like to do in their spare time, particularly with cheerleaders, and the drug addiction theme was the only major issue in the current world which they did well in addressing; though in the end, they screwed it up anyway.

After watching season two of Thirteen Reasons Why, any doubt I had previously about whether or not this show should be continued was reaffirmed; my final verdict is firm and resolutely at ‘absolutely not’. Netflix and the producers don’t agree with me as they’ve already renewed it but I think this is such a stupid move and they would be better off spending their money on making a new show with much better content and new characters from this show. The plots in this season were for the most part outrageous and extremely unrealistic except for the verdict of the court case of Hannah’s parents versus Liberty High school. Justin getting high again in the final episode had no relevance whatsoever other than creating interest for another season. In this season the story, characters, and relationships between characters only increased in how problematic they were. By this point there I think that supporters of the show must be utterly oblivious as to how much potential for mental health issues it has, especially as since the show gives the book more attention many people in America have killed themselves the same way Hannah did.

This show has undergone a lot of controversy for their decisions to display things so graphically. What is your opinion on their delivery of such sensitive topics?