It has been almost a week since season 2 of 13 Reasons Why was released on Netflix. Most of us viewers and non-viewers alike, can easily recall how quick of a hot topic the show became when it premiered in 2017. Morning talk shows and news channels covered how controversial 13 Reasons Why could be in their childs life, and the parents should tread with caution. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know the deep and uncomfortable topics the show brings into discussion: suicide, bullying, rape, assault, and how those occurrences can influence you mentally. Though many people disagreed with what this series brought to our screens, I am one to say that I stand with what 13 Reasons Why teaches viewers.
As we begin with season 2, viewers witness how each character deals with the skeletons that have been taken out of their closet: Tyler deals with bullying of his own, Jessica deals with having been raped, Clay tries to move past Hannah’s death, Tony deals with anger, Justin comes to terms with his part in Jessica’s rape, and we learn about the takedown of Bryce Walker. What I appreciated about this season was how every character dealt with their problems wasn’t pretty, in fact it became ugly before it got better.
Though all characters come a long way in developing, the two major storylines come from Jessica and Tyler (not to say the other characters aren’t as important). From what I saw, Jessica became a true representation of the #MeToo movement. Viewers witnessed how differently girls are treated vs boys. When a girl is raped or assaulted, she is labeled one too many derogatory terms, but a boy get praise or heads turn away (not all the time, just generally speaking). I thought the storyline with Jessica was very much relatable for girls; when rape / sexual assault happens we often get blamed for the clothes we wear, or for making a decision to have a few drinks. Though Bryce’s punishment didn’t fit the crime he committed, it was Jessica’s strength and poise that meant more. To see Jessica overcome hesitation and fear, and be able to tell her story speaks volumes to women and men. This particular storyline shows that to be able to overcome a tragic event, can happen. We can get past the shame and hurt we feel, and use those emotions to help others. Though Jessica’s story came full circle, and we saw how much stronger she became, we couldn’t necessarily say the same for Tyler.
If I had to give a round of applause for an actor who really went full throttle, it’d be Devin Druid (Tyler Down). Tyler Down spoke the his truth while in court for Hannah Baker. Though Tyler was honest, he continued to be bullied, isolated, and experienced physical and sexual assault. When we put together all these factors, it leads us into his choice of shooting up Liberty High during their Spring Fling dance (which was foreshadowed at the end of season 1). First, before we go into the discussion of Tyler and a school shooting, I want to discuss the graphic scene that is shown between Tyler and Montgomery.
I have seen over social media how upset people were with how graphic this scene was. I will agree that when I watched it, I cringed and felt uncomfortable, but I disagree with those who believe that this scene should’ve been left out. With this scene being added in, we the viewers are exposed to the reality of how harsh and brutal bullying and assault can be (in another aspect, of course). 13 Reasons Why first showed that with bullying and assault, it has the high possibility to lead to suicide, and now with Tyler, we see another outcome. Majority of the time, we don’t hear about a male being sexually assaulted, this scene opens our eyes to that, and raises awareness. When I watched this scene, the first thought I had was, “is this what happens in fraternity houses? When does this happen that we aren’t made aware?” Once again, 13 Reasons Why is not only raising awareness of male on male assault, but is creating conversation with all of us.
In addition, the storyline of a school shooting appears as a very relatable situation to most people. Sadly, our nation has experienced one too many deaths due to school shootings, and 13 Reasons Why is helping to keep the discussion alive. When I watched Tyler walk out of his car, and be confronted by Clay, I had anxiety the entire time. I never want to experience a situation of that kind. The intensity and emotion that was included in that particular scene, assists others in understanding the build up of a school shooting. Most of us viewers never experienced a school shooting or a situation with a gun at all, but by watching this storyline unfold it keeps us aware of the epidemic that keeps happening.
I particularly appreciated how raw and honest 13 Reasons Why was in season 2. We as a society need to keep these conversations going, and keep an open mind to help those who may be struggling with personal issues. The worst action we could take is to pretend that suicide, assault and bullying doesn’t exist. For those who are reading this, and may be struggling themselves, help is available and know that you are not alone.
If you or you know a person who needs help, please visit the site below:13reasonswhy.info/