Is “Thirteen Reasons Why” Too Much?

My answer: Sometimes, yes, it is. But then again, sometimes life is too much, too.

If you haven’t seen seasons 1 and 2 of the Netflix series “Thirteen Reasons Why, this post may contain spoilers. This post also discusses sensitive content including suicide and rape.

BUDDY PROJECT HAS COMPILED A LIST OF POTENTIAL TRIGGERS IN EACH EPISODE OF THIRTEEN REASONS WHY. CLICK HERE TO VIEW.

I remember years ago, reading the book version of Thirteen Reasons Why. So when I heard they were adapting it into a series for Netflix, I was intrigued. It told a lot of important stories, I felt. I didn’t feel like it glorified any of the difficult issues it discussed, but rather, provided a forum through which people struggling with these issues could perhaps feel more comfortable discussing them.

So when season one popped onto Netflix, I dove right in. I knew it would be an intense show, so I limited myself to one episode per day. As someone who has struggled in the past with anxiety and depression, I knew my own limits. I didn’t want to put too much on myself, so one episode a day turned out to be alright.

I thought season one was, overall, well-done. It touched on all the important topics. I didn’t – and still don’t feel – as though the show glorifies suicide, really. Instead, it tells the story of a fictional teenage girl who felt so down, so hopeless, so in despair, that she felt it was the only choice; and then, it tells the story of just how she got to that point, through her own words. I don’t think it tries to paint Hannah as this ‘perfect angel’ or anything. If anything, it’s real about what happened to her, and what part she played in that (particularly in the second season).

If you’ve never felt that down, maybe you can’t relate or understand. Be thankful for that.

At the same time, I can understand how some people may say the show glorifies suicide. I know there have been some copycat attempts, and it just breaks my heart. Please, please get help if you are considering suicide or have any sort of suicidal thoughts.

Yes, there were some difficult moments to watch in the first season, including Hannah’s actual suicide. I half-squinted my way through that scene; it wasn’t triggering for me personally, but I could certainly see how it would be for others. That’s why it’s highly recommended that if you have struggled with suicidal thoughts, depression, sexual assault, etc. to either watch the show with an adult, or perhaps to consider skipping it altogether.

When I heard they were making a second seasons of Thirteen Reasons Why, I had mixed feelings about it. The book, of course, was only written with the thirteen initial tapes. What would they bring into this second season?

Watching the second season, I felt like in many ways, the writers were re-writing history. They showed all of these little things that had apparently happened prior to the first season, or during, that we didn’t see before. Some of it seemed far-fetched, like Bryce’s relationship with Hannah and his comments about the bridge. Were they trying to make Bryce, a serial rapist, a relatable character? No thanks.

Oh, and Hannah and Zach apparently had an entire relationship together? Okay then. Sure.

Also: Clay and Skye are dating? Okay, maybe I saw a hint of that coming. But they’re apparently pretty serious. And Clay is an insensitive ass when he sees that Skye has self-harmed after telling him she wouldn’t. Oh, and they can’t have sex without Clay stopping because he’s thinking about Hannah. And then Skye goes away to get help! Which is actually not a bad thing!

Ugh. The whole ‘clubhouse’ plot line seemed so far out of left field. How would that ever happen in reality, in a school-owned property, on school grounds, for that long a period? (I do think this, and the whole Bryce storyline, begins to take an honest look at how athletes are often given preferential treatment. This happens often in sexual assault/rape cases. Just look at pro sports. It’s frustrating as hell, but it certainly reflects how things happen in real life…)

And boy, that last episode was a whopper. Honestly, the whole “Tyler planning to shoot up the school” thing was not a surprise to me. In fact, I’d kind of felt that vibe since the first season – just through subtle things, and then as he seemed to turn more angry, I had a feeling that was the direction the writers were headed in. But come on – you’re trying to tell me that he planned and (nearly) executed the whole thing in one day? And that one measly kid, Clay, was so easily able to talk him down?

Also, don’t get me started on how apparently comfortable these kids are all with guns. Tyler. Clay, who has no problem taking a gun to Bryce’s house and nearly shooting him. THESE ARE TEENAGERS. I don’t know. Again, it just seems far-fetched in my eyes.

(Regarding Tyler’s sexual assault in the last episode: I did not watch that scene. I had read about it prior to viewing, and knew to skip those few minutes. I don’t know, nor do I want to know, what exactly I missed out on.)

Oh, and hey, if sexual assault, rape, suicide, guns, alcohol and language weren’t enough… why not throw in drugs, too. The writers turning Justin into a heroin addict was just painful, and I would’ve much preferred if they’d given him a better arc. However, seeing him accept his part in Bryce’s rape of Jessica was slightly redeeming, as he finally took responsibility for something.

They also didn’t touch much on Courtney, but then all of a sudden, she’s out and has a girlfriend and everything? Uhhhh. Okay then. Sure.

I could go on and on. I’m incredibly glad they seemed to be treating Alex’s disability realistically and honestly, rather than making him miraculously heal. I absolutely hated Chloe’s character, but felt bad for her when she announced her pregnancy. Also: Zach might be the best character.

So: will there be a season three of Thirteen Reasons Why? This hasn’t been determined yet, but if there is, here are some of the plot lines I’d like to see explored:

  • The Bakers’ relationship – what happened between the end of s1 and start of s2? How did they fall apart, exactly? How did Hannah’s dad get involved with another woman? And where are they both now?
  • Chloe’s pregnancy
  • Justin’s dad – where is he, who is he, and can we see him and Justin finally meet?
  • Hannah’s backstory – we’ve gotten glimpses of who she was at her previous school, but I could see the writers exploring this further in future seasons.
CRISIS RESOURCES
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
  • Crisis Text Line: 741741
  • National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673
  • RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network): https://centers.rainn.org/
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Association: 1-800-662-HELP
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