When the first season of "Thirteen Reasons Why" debuted on Netflix in 2017, I was a staunch defender of the show. I found the series to be a beautifully acted, thought-provoking, albeit problematic Netflix installment. The first season, in my opinion, was made with the best of intentions. It prompted a discussion about mental illness, suicide, slut-shaming, and bullying. Issues many teens have experienced, and have opinions on, yet rarely get to discuss due to the stigma surrounding the topics.
The show had a multitude of problems, I am aware of that. Hannah's (Katherine Langford) story, while compelling, is overly romanticized. At one point it's suggested all Hannah really needed was for a boy to love her. The supporting characters, aside from Clay (Dylan Minnette), Jessica (Alisha Boe), Alex (Miles Heizer), and Justin (Brandon Flynn), are startlingly undeveloped. Season 2, attempts to respond to controversy surrounding Season 1. Despite this, Season 2 of "13 Reasons Why" is one of the most appalling seasons of television I've ever seen.
Season 2 centers around a lawsuit enacted by Olivia Baker (Kate Walsh). In Season 1, each episode was centered on a character's specific tape. Season 2 centers on a character's testimony at the trial. The characters in the first season were unlikable at best and reprehensible at worst, this season almost everyone is an absolute monster. In Season 1, the show explores the hardships of high school in a grounded and subtle way. The second season ups the dramatics that its hard to believe any of these characters are in high school and not in prison.
The show wants to cover every teen-related issue possible (sexual assault, bullying, steroid use, drug addiction, cutting, just to name a few). The viewer gets whiplash while watching an episode. "13 Reasons Why's" attempts to understand the teenage experience, would be noble if done in a thoughtful, and engaging way. The show's second season is anything other than. The struggles of these characters, as well as, actual human beings, are treated as merely plot points, to be rushed through and exploited for entertainment. Worst of all the show's use of violence is so gratuitous, and vivid, its difficult to watch. The season finale, is the worst offender, with one scene so harrowing, its shocking Netflix allowed it to air.
What is most frightening about "13 Thirteen Reasons Why," it that this is a show targeted towards youth. Kids watching this show, particularly those struggling with similar issues as those addressed, are presented with an incredibly disturbing picture. A world where there are no solutions to their problems. This is not a show I want my siblings, my cousins, or even my friends to watch. The fact that this show was renewed for a third season, show's Netflix blatant disregard for its younger viewers. I can't stomach watching another season of "13 Reasons Why," I doubt many people can.