It’s official: Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why is getting a second season. While we’ve already listed the perils of that decision, that decision has been made. So let’s look forward to what the show could do well and what it should do better.
Help for Jessica and Justin
The pair that should’ve been Liberty High’s “It couple” was at the beginning of Hannah’s tapes, but it’s the events described in the later tapes that leave them shaken and scarred entering Season 2. The show fleshed out Jessica and Justin better than the novel, especially with their family dynamics. Jess is now coming to terms with her painful assault and Justin with his complicity in what happened to her, but with the right support system they could both overcome.
The show runners had their reasons for depicting Hannah’s death and the series’ sexual assaults the way they did, but there are moments throughout that felt gratuitous, particularly in Episode 7 when Clay hallucinates Hannah’s body on the basketball court (this one had no content warning).
“Sometimes it takes provocative experiences to get our attention,” Dr. Eric Beeson, a counseling expert and faculty member at Northwestern University, told Mashable. “However, I think the goals of this show could have been met with less provocative depictions of the issues being covered. I am especially concerned about the potential for a school shooting in the second season. If this is a direction they pursue, I hope that they take a different stance than they did for the sexual assaults and suicide in season one.”
A greater balance
“I think they also have to highlight and balance the competing narratives of reality and hope,” Dr. Beeson said. “Yes, these issues are real and they happen, but the reality is there are great stories that happen all the time as well. If they are going to tackle the hard issues, then I also hope they highlight some of the great things that happen among youth and in our school systems.”
Write the adults better
Except for the Bakers, who are played with devastating heart by Kate Walsh and Brian D’Arcy James, the adults on 13 Reasons Why are awfully one-dimensional and a little too on-the-nose with their negligence. The teachers in particular seem oblivious to everything about the demographic they work with, so those characters could use some nuance in Season 2.
Warnings, warnings, warnings
Season 1 has been edited on Netflix to feature more trigger warnings, including a content advisory at the top of the series for anyone wishing to proceed. Hotline numbers and resources should also be included in every episode for anyone watching or who knows someone at risk.
A place for hope
“I would like there to be a more hopeful and resilient tone throughout with less blame,” Dr. Beeson said. “Yes, accountability for our collective influence on the experiences of others is important, but I believe this has to be balanced with what to do instead. This is something that I think was missing in the first season.”