Hey guys, welcome back to TNTH!
*This post contains minor spoilers regarding the second season*
As many of you may know, the second season of 13 Reasons Why started streaming on Netflix last Friday. While many people decided not to watch another season of last year’s most controversial show, I decided to do so for many reasons why. (Did you get the pun?)
Anyway, I wanted to see this season because I was now truly invested in all of these characters stories and because this season was not a part of the original season and its novel, it felt a lot like watching someone’s fan-fiction of these characters, and I like that a lot. If you didn’t read my post about the first season last year, you can read that here.
The first season left me with a lot of emotions, and it brought back memories of my own that I thought I was over for years now, and maybe I am over them, but the scar will always leave a reminder that it happened. A lot of things in the first season scarred me; a lot of the things that were depicted in the first season were graphic and in my opinion: necessary. I’m not saying two rape scenes and a suicide one didn’t do anything for me, but it did put me in a place where I first saw the reality of what it was like being in those situations, and many viewers probably haven’t either. Do I think they could’ve gave their viewers a better warning, most definitely, and the show learned from their first mistake and made sure to let viewers know this time around what was expected.
Because now we know what to expect from a show like 13 Reasons Why, we could prepare ourselves better this time around while watching it. Let me tell you I binge-watched the entire first season by pulling an all-nighter, and when I finished the show literally 9 o’clock that morning, I was a complete wreck. The show stuck to me longer than it should’ve, and eventually I actually started to feel a bit of sadness myself because of it. This time around, I made sure I gave myself time to take a break from it every now and then and return once I felt ready. A lot of the discussions between the characters made me really think about myself, and a lot of those times that’s when I had to stop and gather myself before proceeding. This is a really heavy show that I believe not everyone can handle and watch, and that’s perfectly fine. For those who can, make sure you take what is shown and start a conversation about mental health.
With that being said, the second season felt a little bit more laid-back, if I could even call a show like this that word. Despite the bathroom scene in episode 13 from 37:00-39:00 which I forced myself to fast forward because I didn’t want to see literal torture, the show just dealt with a lot of drama and a lot around the case on trial. In a sense, a lot of the situations these teenagers were putting themselves to felt a bit disconnecting and weird in my eyes (I mean, the fact that these kids were missing school left and right to handle their shit without repercussion felt odd to me). Also, the interactions these kids had with their parents and other adults felt a little off as well. It felt like the teenagers weren’t even teenagers, but young adults in the middle of their college careers.
Another thing that bothered me a little about this season is that the acting didn’t hit as hard for me like it did in the first season. But with that being said, a complete standout for me this season was Brandon Flynn’s character, Justin Foley. In season one, absolutely no one was rooting for Justin; many of us (including myself) was happy in a way that Jessica told him to fuck off after what happened at the party. This season, he’s a completely different person and not because he’s a recovering addict, but we see him grow throughout the entire season, and we see just how there’s always two sides to one story. Brandon Flynn did his thing this season and because of his acting, I am completely invested to see where he goes from here on out.
Regarding the story-line of Bryce Walker and Jessica Davis and the incident that happened in the first season, I personally feel like how that plot went about was realistic and connecting. Anyone who is a victim of sexual assault, no matter how minor or severe, feels as if they are stuck. We as viewers saw Jessica think out loud all of the second season, and I really liked that. Reporting sexual assault isn’t the same as telling someone someone stole your lunch money or something; this is opening up about something that personally affects you and the way you’ll live your life, and the fact that half these women who are brave enough to even speak up end up not getting the justice they deserve or get slut-shamed for “being a certain way” or “looking a certain way”. The show makes it known that in the midst of the #MeToo movement that sexual harassment/assault, toxic masculinity, consensual sex, and feminism being about empowering every woman (including intersectional), be added to the list of conversations we need to be having in this day and age.
And now some of my biggest concerns regarding the season:
Let’s put this out there: the bathroom scene in the 13th episode was absolutely unnecessary and felt like a filler to add shock value to a show notorious for having one. The two rape scenes AND the suicide scene in the first season was a lot already, yet the second season really needed to add something so horrific and disturbing that at first placed my judgement on even watching the show. Personally, I feel like the show treated Tyler poorly, and not because of that bathroom scene. The show depicted Tyler as a kid who was quickly spiraling down to the point where he wanted to commit a mass shooting at the high-school. Again, a very sensitive topic this day and age knowing that just this past Friday 10 students were killed at a high-school by a mass shooter. What the show did to Tyler as a character was show us the typical “personality” and “reasons” a student would want to commit mass murder. Tyler was socially awkward, quiet, he kept to himself, he was bullied, he didn’t really have any friends, he was smart, and he was ultimately a loner who tried to be something he was not and couldn’t get out of it because he was already going through so much. While most of the people on Hannah’s tapes stood together into fighting for justice for both Hannah, Jessica, and many of the other girls who Bryce presumably raped, Tyler was excluded from that group, finding other ways to seek justice which ultimately was the most harmful way at it. Because I didn’t watch the two minutes that the bathroom scene was, I don’t know what was Monty’s motive for doing what he did to Tyler, but it felt like kicking someone down when they are already down to the ground. It just felt like there was no drive behind the fact that the show wanted some ammo (not literal) to throw in the fact that Tyler was gonna perform a mass murder.
Regarding that last line, the way that the incident was handled once Tyler got to the school felt very unrealistic. What teenage boy in their right mind is going to stand in front of a semi-automatic rifle, pleading for the shooter to stop what he’s going to do? Stopping someone before shooting up a public school isn’t the answer in how we are going to stop mass shootings in public schools. Doing a goddamn thing about gun control and access to guns is the conversation we need to be having. Clay telling Tyler that “having people talk about it for a week and then forget about it until the next school shooting” was really fucking real, but I just don’t know. The last few minutes of the last episode felt a bit “PSA on an after-school program”-ish for me. I feel like the season should’ve ended with Tyler driving to the school and have the kids who are at the school who know about Tyler’s plan look at each other like “what the fuck are we gonna do?” It would’ve allowed writers to sit down and handle what was gonna happen a year in advance before the next season (which I know there will probably be). The ending they decided on felt too disconnected and out of the entire season, in my opinion.
Other than that, I feel like this season was a good one for people who like the characters and wanted to see these characters beyond the pages depicted in the novel. I really enjoyed getting to know Hannah a bit better and see how she was through other people’s eyes and their interactions with Hannah before her suicide. What the book more so does is depict Hannah as a victim who did nothing wrong besides get involved with the wrong people and because of those said people, she killed herself. What this season introduces to us is a side of Hannah many of us aren’t familiar with (even Clay), but we are reminded that suicide victims are human too: they make mistakes and they are capable of hurting people too.
If you’re invested in these characters, I say watch the season with caution, still. Know whether or not you want to see certain parts. Make sure you take breaks in between episodes. Know that it’s okay that you do not think this show is good for you to watch regarding your own reasons why. It’s just a show trying to start up conversations that many people aren’t strong enough to start.