Editor’s Note: Veronica Wernicke is a sophomore at UNCW majoring in Communication Studies and is the Opinion Editor for The Seahawk. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. Veronica Wernicke may be found on Twitter @itsveronica98. All suggestions and inquiries may be sent via email to [email protected]
Netflix’s original series 13 Reasons Why caught eyes and sparked conversations when it came out last March. Along with it, a debate raged about whether people should watch the series due to its graphic nature and to what some called the glorification of suicide.
Now one year later with season two out the same conversations and debates have arisen. In response to the criticism that the show glorifies suicide, Netflix added a PSA to the beginning of the first episode for both seasons. But is that enough?
Not really. Especially given the content and nature covered in the series. Just because Netflix added the PSA and a website after the credits does not mean people will see it. I know for a fact that I always skip the intro and never watch the end credits. Thus, it is not as beneficial as it ought to be.
I’ll admit when the series came out I was eager to see what everyone was talking about, especially since I never read the book — which the series is based off.
When I finished the first season I was shocked by everything that was shown on screen. I was even more surprised that they went through with everything they showed. It was immensely graphic — scenes of rape and suicide — and was something I did not expect to come out of a teen drama.
Between the flashbacks and overdone high school dramatics, this series is almost too much to watch and handle. I know we need to educate people on topics like rape and suicide, but I don’t think 13 Reasons Why is doing it in the most effective manner. Showing the graphic depictions of rape and suicide is something no one should have to see. Again, there are more effective manners to teach people than to graphically showing it.
I was even more surprised when Netflix announced another season. Since the series is based off a book — which is a single novel — I did not understand why they were doing this and where they were going to go in season two.
Out of curiosity, I chose to go ahead and watch this new season.
Season two picks up five months after the dramatic events from season one. The season revolves around the trial between Hannah Baker’s family and Liberty High School. But get this, they also kept vintage vibes. Season one was cassette tapes and season two is Polaroid. Talk about vintage. Did we really need a season about this? Not really, but here we are.
And don’t even get me started on the whole Hannah’s ghost storyline. It was pretty cheesy, and we really did not need that.
With the trial reeling forward, we see the resurfacing of season one’s traumatic and graphic events. As the 13 episodes progress we finally see the jury’s verdict and the decision feels all too real when it comes to rape and bullying cases. It is even more frustrating given the fact that it took 13 episodes of “build up” to get there.
There were also several scenes with guns and hints towards gun violence. Given the recent climate surrounding gun violence, I don’t think the show highlighting this was very appropriate. Throughout this second season, we see guns in what feels like every episode whether someone is shooting something with it, contemplating suicide or what looks like planning a shooting.
There were several instances when I thought a character was going to do exactly that. Which is not appropriate to hint at — especially if it doesn’t happen. I know it happens in real life, but with a show that depicts practically everything else, this seemed like too much.
I could have definitely lived without watching either season of 13 Reasons Why. While the Netflix series may have thought their intentions were good, but alas here we are. It does glorify suicide, rape and bullying. I don’t think any show could ever cover topics like those and do them “justice.”
Besides those obvious points, it looks like 13 Reasons Why will be back for a third season. Right when you think the last episode should have ended they went and added a cliffhanger. I don’t know why and couldn’t possibly know where they plan to go with the series. There was only one book for a reason.
So, watch or don’t watch 13 Reasons Why that’s up to you, but just understand either way we as a society can do better to help educate on topics like suicide, rape and bullying and hopefully help prevent them.
If you or anyone one you know are struggling with thoughts of suicide please visit https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/talk-to-someone-now/ or text the crisis hotline 24/7 by texting TWT to 741741. Please remember that you are not alone and there are people out there who love and care about you.