Here are the changes 13 Reasons Why needs to make in its second season
The first season was controversial, to say the least...
The first season of 13 Reasons Why was released on Netflix in March of last year, and it was an instant sensation.
It was the fifth most-watched TV show on Netflix for 2017 and without a doubt one of the most talked-about pieces of television in recent years. But people who watched the show were divided.
Some people loved it — they thought it was a brilliant depiction of the undeniable bullying that goes on in schools every day. On top of that, they thought that it created much-needed discussion about suicide, rape, homophobia and mental health issues as a whole. They also thought that it was genuinely good television: exciting from start to finish, with interesting, complex characters.
Critics of the show didn't feel the same.
They thought it was an extremely dangerous and misleading illustration of mental health issues. They believed that the show depicted suicide in a way that almost glorified it. That it romanticised suicide, and could potentially encourage young people suffering with mental health issues to follow the same path as the leading character, Hannah Baker.
Indeed, Netflix responded to the criticism by introducing additional warnings at the beginning of every episode.
The main criticism of the show is the interpretation that Hannah Baker WINS against those who were bullying her so badly. Her death, and leaving the tapes behind her, destroys their lives, the same way that they destroyed hers.
Critics also feel that the show made a huge mistake by showing precisely how Hannah killed herself, as well as showing a graphic rape scene, both of which can have a huge effect on people who could potentially be triggered by even the mere mention of the topics, let alone graphic imagery.
As a result, the release of the second season of 13 Reasons Why on Friday has ignited the debate all over again.
The show has the potential to do some great work with its second season, especially given that it will be seen by millions of impressionable young people around the world.
If the makers of the show haven't treated it very carefully, it could have very dangerous consequences. But if they execute it properly, it could be one of the most important pieces of television for this generation.
Here's what we feel the show needs from the second season.
Encourage more mental-health based discussion
Instead of exploring the factors behind Hannah's death, there's a danger that, to vulnerable teenagers, it looks like it came about simply because she was bullied.
Obviously, bullying is a serious issue, and it ruins the lives of millions of kids around the world, but the first season could have done with a deeper exploration of Hannah's issues considering young people who watch the show may not notice the subtle references.
Avoid glorification of the issue
A lot of the talk following the first season of the show is that it glorified suicide. And some have even suggested that Hannah is a winner in the show after her tapes have a profound impact on the people named in them.
But the reality is that the repercussions of suicide are not seen nor are they felt by the person who dies by suicide. As much as Hannah is with Clay as he listens to the tapes, the emotional effects of her tapes can't offer Hannah comfort or validation, when she's not alive to see her perpetrators go through their emotional turmoil and in some cases, learn their lessons.
Explore self-harm and the realities around it
Hannah's parents might be the best thing about the first season. The genuine devastation that they go through is so real, so genuine. The moment where they find her body in the bathtub is as traumatising a scene as there has been on a TV show in recent memory.
The show infamously decided to show the exact way that Hannah dies, but there's an argument that it would have been far more powerful if that part was skipped, and to let viewers only see Hannah's distraught parents find her.
This is the scene that saves the show. This is why they made the show. There is nothing romantic or beautiful about suicide, and the scene showed just how real this was. This is what's left behind.
The second season of 13 Reasons Why is available on Netflix now.
If you are struggling with your mental health, or if you're worried about a loved one, these are a number of resources you can use.