"13 Reasons Why" debuted in March 2017, and it hit the ground running.
Based on the hit novel written by Jay Asher, it tells the story of Clay Jensen, who must follow a series of tapes left behind by his friend Hannah Baker to uncover the truth after she commits suicide. As someone who has had friends and loved ones struggle with this topic, this show was tense for me at first. However, I loved the first season and binge-watched the second season when it debuted last week.
Warning: Spoiler Alert!!!!!!!
The show has been swarmed with controversy and criticism since its debut, and this season was no different. While last season was criticized for its depiction of mental health issues and sexual assault, this season has been met with heavy criticism, mainly for one scene in the season finale. In this brutal scene, we see Tyler get attacked by 3 jocks in the bathroom. They bash his head against the mirror and sink before dragging him into a stall and nearly drowning him in a toilet. They then hold him down and sodomize him with a broom, leaving him bloodied and crying in the bathroom. This results in Tyler showing up to the school dance, heavily armed and ready to murder those who have wronged him.
The show and its creators have come under heavy fire after the season's release, stating that the scene was too brutal and purely for shock value. As I watched the scene unfold, I was left crying and speechless, having to close my laptop and give myself a break. I finished the season with mixed feelings, on one hand, happy that Hannah was able to find peace, but also left with this terrible feeling for Tyler. Recently, I watched a Netflix special called "Beyond The Reasons", which featured the cast and writers of the show talking about the new season.
The first topic that was covered in the show was Tyler's assault. The writers explained there reasoning behind the brutality, and it surprised me. Their first reason was to have the audience feel a sense of empathy towards Tyler leading into the final scene. They accomplished that goal, and it broke my heart watching him load his weapons. The second point, however, surprised me the most. They said they wanted to address the issue of male sexual assault.
This is a topic we rarely see represented in media. I feel like a big reason for this is the culture we were raised in. Men are expected to be strong, masculine, and protective. A traumatic event like sexual assault leaves many survivors with a feeling of shame. This is a feeling no survivor should feel because IT IS NEVER THEIR FAULT!
Is the scene brutal and hard to watch? Absolutely. It does, however, address an issue that many people don't acknowledge. Sexual assault is something that NO ONE should ever have to go through. There is one thing we can learn from all of this, and it's that these are issues that need to be brought to light. As a young man, if another man came to me and told me he was a survivor, I wouldn't treat him any differently or see him as anything less than he is, and neither shoud any of you.