Warning: This article contains spoilers and triggers such as suicide, rape, sexual assault, self-harm and mental illness. Read at your own risk.
The latest season of the Netflix series, "13 Reasons Why" has sparked its usual conversation about mental health and how it is represented in the media. The first season received an abundance of backlash as viewers were concerned with the graphic scenes portrayed. After the release of this second season, many are still troubled — and rightfully so — by the show's interpretation of mental health awareness. In watching the show myself, I picked up on a particular issue that carried on, perhaps subtle to some and more obvious to others, throughout the entire season.
The show's main character, Clay Jensen, exhibited some dangerous behavior as a result of his trauma coupled with the toxic masculinity he held.
1. He never fully deals with his trauma.
This is nothing to shame him for necessarily, but his inability to confront his trauma head-on creates many conflicts between him and his friends, family, and even strangers. The stress put on him by the events of the past six months create an unhealthy headspace for him.
2. He lashes out at others, often unfairly.
Due to this bottled up anger, Clay is frequently seen yelling at almost every character he interacts with in the second season. His anger is warranted some of the time but other times his friends and family bear the brunt of his indignation.
3. He harshly judges the rest of the characters.
It is made known throughout this season that nearly every person played a role in Hannah's unraveling and unhappiness. Clay, however, spends much of the season forgetting that he, too, played a role and ends up verbally attacking people after their testimonies. Perhaps his guilt is being projected onto the rest?
4. His obsession with Hannah is unhealthy.
We're all aware that Clay was in love with Hannah and nobody should expect him to simply get over it in a matter of months but he spends almost every waking moment thinking, speaking about, or doing something for Hannah. He treats it as if Hannah was only his and therefore he is the only one who can talk or think about her.
5. He tries to guilt-trip his girlfriend into staying.
When his girlfriend, Skye, invites him to visit her at the mental health facility she was sent to and lets him know about her bipolar disorder diagnosis and how she plans to move away in order to cope effectively, he turns on her. In true Clay fashion, he makes the situation about him, saying she is going to forget about him, questioning her decision to take medication and overall making her feel guilty for making an informed and mature decision.
6. He makes everyone else's trauma his own - and he wants to right all of it.
Clay often attempts to make everyone else's trauma his, too, in order for him to be able to speak on it without blame (or so he thinks). In doing this, he also makes it his mission to fast-track everyone's recovery process.
7. Slut-shaming Hannah was a frequent occurrence.
As the trial went on and intimate details of Hannah's romantic and sexual life were revealed, Clay became more and angrier. He confronted Hannah's past romantic or sexual partners and even lashed out at the vision or ghost of Hannah that was following him around for most of the season. He shamed her for being with more people than just him — as if that's any of his business. (Clay and Hannah were never even dating.)
8. His feeling of entitlement clouded his judgment.
Due to the fact that Clay felt so entitled to Hannah and being the only person she had gotten intimate with, he let this mindset drive most of his actions, instead of acting based on reality.
9. He was only interested in helping Justin for his own reasons.
Clay helped Justin get clean but not without constantly ridiculing, manipulating, and berating him just so he could get Justin to testify like he wanted. His intentions were not to get Justin clean for his health, but so that Clay's end goal would be fulfilled.
10. Clay was inconsiderate of Jessica's attempt at recovery.
Clay wanted Justin to testify so that he could out Bryce as Jessica's rapist, without letting Jessica know of the plan. Once it was revealed to her, she let him know she was not comfortable with someone else deciding how or when her story is told yet he continued to push her and disrespect her wishes.
11. He did not understand how to respect boundaries.
This was a common theme throughout the season for Clay. When Skye ended their relationship and asked him not to contact her, he decided to call her cell and home multiple times a day for weeks, leave her messages, and show up at her house. He continually disrespected Jessica's desire to keep her trauma to herself.
12. Victim blaming at The Clubhouse.
When Clay, Justin, and Sheri were looking through the disturbing photos taken from "The Clubhouse" Clay wondered out loud why the girls in the photos had gotten themselves into a "bad situation." It was unwarranted and harmful and Sheri shut him down, letting him know his attempt at victim blaming wasn't okay or even helpful.
13. His hunt for justice was led with the right intentions but he ran people over to do it.
Clay Jensen ultimately wanted justice for the girl that he loved but it was unfortunate that he hurt as many people as possible to do it. Many aspects of his character are aspects of immature men that exhibit this behavior every day and it's important to raise awareness for that as well.