Not going to lie, I am a little reluctant to review the second season of the Netflix original series 13 Reasons Why based on the novel by Jay Asher of the same name. Mostly because I didn’t review season one of the series or the novel it is based on, I’m going to get onto my reasons now.
Why Didn’t you Review the First Season and the Book?
So there are things called art, censorship, and shoving my foot in my mouth. Last year I had seen trailers for the show 13 Reasons Why and thought it was genuinely interesting and sat down to watch the first season. While I do admit it has its flaws, it was something I enjoyed watching and thought was worth watching.
Then came the controversy of how the series (probably poorly) handled the portrayal of mental health and was accused of “romanticizing suicide.” while in a sense I do agree the writers of the series cold have handled things better, I thought the idea of ‘getting creative with ideas about suicide from a tv show’ was moronic and only a complete idiot would copycat the audiotape suicide note There were indeed morons who copied the idea and sadly took their own lives.
I took the side of the writers and the tv series because I don’t like censorship of art, even if I don’t like or agree with what was presented (I didn’t like the approach they took to Hannah taking her own life, or an unnecessary rape scene from season two I’ll get to in a bit.)
In short I couldn’t review season one because at the time I was in a mental bias for the show and would have claimed it’s a work of art despite content of the story.
Okay Let’s Talk About Season Two and How Much I Hated the Ending, spoilers from this point on.
When season one of Thirteen Reasons Why aired it was hard for me to believe they would be able to adapt a second season from a stand alone book. My friend and I guessed that season two would be from the perspective of Hanna’s peers on the tapes and their sides of the story. We were mostly right; season two is more like an episode of Law and Order SVU, except Olivia Benson doesn’t come out victorious by the end of the episode.
Alongside the courtroom drama there is also the continued school life of the cast from the previous season; Clay is trying to move on from Hannah, Tyler is making new friends and doing his best to keep them despite the clashing personalities, Tony is questioning his morals and trades in his white boyfriend for a black boyfriend, Justin having even more internal conflicts, Jessica and other girls raped by Bryce struggling to come forward about their rapes in order to get him arrested, and many other things. Also before the start of season two, there is a PSA from the cast of 13 Reasons Why talking of mental health and suicide and encouraging viewers feeling thoughts of depression and suicide to seek help and discouraging them viewing the series.
To continue with the usage of old tech in a modern world, polaroid pictures were the nostalgic item used for evil this season as evidence that Bryce and many generations of the baseball team used as “trophies” in their sexual conquests.
To be honest I felt this season (like season one) dragged on and aside from a few select episodes (Courtney deciding to come clean about her true relationship with Hannah and come out as a lesbian at the same time is my favorite episode of the season). I do like that along with characters telling their sides of the story of the tapes, many characters who were seen as antagonists previously (the above mentioned Courtney, Ryan, and kind of Tyler) chose to do a heel face turn and aid in the courtroom battle against the school telling the truth of what happened on the tapes and admitting they were in the wrong.
The main character Clay struggles with his feelings towards Hannah, and as a result is seeing Hannah in front of him either as a hallucination or as Hannah’s soul aiding him in his journey (I see it as the later and I’ll explain why). Clay starts off the season dating Skye and suddenly having abs and trying to function without thinking of Hannah, but he can’t bring himself to do so. His character arc is learning new facts about Hannah that he didn’t previously know and questioning if his feelings for her were authentic.
We are also given some revelations about Hannah’s life and how she wasn’t the as unguilty as she claimed. She had been a bully at her previous school, but upon realizing what she was doing tried to stop and changed schools for the sake of a fresh start. I like that it gave more depth to her character, showing that she was trying to change herself for the better and still had flaws as a person and didn’t know how to handle it.
Poor, Poor Tyler
A Lot of my hatred for this season comes from the treatment of Tyler; throughout season one the character Tyler is treated like shit. While some of it is deserved from select characters (Courtney had every right to hate and mistreat him due to him outing her as gay when she wasn’t ready), the escalation gave the impression he was going to shoot up the school.
And he didn’t. Instead Tyler starts a questionable friendship with an individual named Cyrus, who although is ‘punk’ is a pretty cool guy who isn’t crazy enough to shoot up the school. Tyler goes through ups and downs, but it seems he nearly gains forgiveness from most of the cast. Then fucks it up because he didn’t want to be embarrassed for ejaculating in public from a kiss.
This all escalates to a horrifying and unnecessary moment in the show where Tyler is raped in the boys restroom.
It’s a disgusting scene, very unnecessary like Hannah’s suicide from the previous season and I strongly suspect the scene was only thrown in for the sake of possibly having a third season to the show just to resolve the Tyler conflict when it could have easily been resolved this season (I mean they solved the primary conflict of Hannah Baker’s suicide, no point in continuing the show after).
An alternative to the scene to wrap up his arc (and the series) would be that upon returning from rehab, Tyler would discover although he won’t gain back some of the friends he alienated, he could still have Clay and maybe get punched in the boys restroom rather than sodomized with a mop (why are so many adults useless in this show?)
So originally I was typing this review after I had finished viewing season two (about two weeks after it premiered on Netflix), but due to life events at the time I couldn’t devote my time and attentions to this little blog I do.
Last year when I was watching Thirteen Reasons Why my dad would join me because he thought the show was fairly interesting. He told me two things; the first was a reminder to always listen to someone when they’re calling for help regardless of how trivial it seems, the second I’m shocked was approached in the show itself.
My dad had asked me ‘what did you notice about all those kids on that show?’ I replied with ‘it’s a racially diverse cast.’ He responded with, ‘they don’t have God in their life.’ And while I wanted to argue that even if one of those kids was religious, that wouldn’t guarantee they wouldn’t be part of this problem (I’d still make the argument), I was shocked to see that the Olivia Baker asked a priest “could all of this have been avoided if we were had ‘something’?” in terms of a belief system. My thoughts were ‘holy crap, religion in a modern YA show portrayed in a positive light.’ Complete with a priest stating that he didn’t believe Hannah went to hell despite dying from suicide.
My reasoning for believing during the season that Clay was speaking with Hannah’s soul rather than a hallucination created from his guilt is maybe the wanting to believe that Hannah didn’t go to hell for dying from suicide. Maybe it is from the observation my dad made and his feelings that “if those kids had been taught about God and how to be good people, none of what they were going through would have happened.”
I’ll end this blog post by thinking that as Hannah’s soul left the church, she went to heaven, just as the show should have ended at that point (I’m not watching season three, this show is going on longer than necessary).