13 Reasons Why, second season review

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The popular Netflix original series, “Thirteen Reasons Why,” returns with more strong, cruel and violent everyday life scenarios in its second season.



Thirteen Reasons Why is an American series that is based on Jay Asher’s novel. The story of the first season focuses on a high school student (Hannah Baker) who commits suicide and leaves cassette tapes recorded by her, where she describes the reasons why she ended her life.

The series, after facing criticism for the sensitivity of its content in the first season for addressing so explicitly the subject of rape, harassment and suicide, in this second season deepens these issues and raises voices on another very important one for U.S. context.

Despite the alarms against the series accused of boasting suicide, Netflix published 13 new chapters. Here some of the scenes that have impressed me most this season (spoilers).

  • Evidence of abuse. Photographs of the main person accused of rape (Bryce), half-naked, pouncing on an unconscious girl (who turns out to be his girlfriend Chloe).
  • Justin (Jessica’s ex-boyfriend) in abstinence. Justin injecting heroin. Justin defending himself as a child. Justin and Bryce as children. Justin and his drugged mother.
  • Physical abuse. When they hit Clay on the floor, among several people. Punch, excessive kicks.
  • Sexual abuse When they remember the violations of Hannah and Jessica.
  • Minimum sentences to the perpetrators and absolution to a school which, while on trial for having responsibility for Hannah Baker’s suicide, there was still harassment, threats and insecurity and no sense of safeness to report any kind of abuse.
  • And the strongest and most graphic scene in the Liberty High men’s restroom. When they corner Tyler (photographer), they bang his head against the mirror, against the sink, immerse his face in the toilet and then penetrate him anally with the mop stick. Rape with an object.

Rage. Impotence. Reality.

The bathroom scene was the last push to a predictable outcome, which had been announced since the end of the first season. Tyler’s narrative in this second installment focuses on explaining his character development through experiences of harassment, abuse, isolation, humiliation and, finally, rape. A violation that impacts the audience so much, it reduces their awe about his decision to arm himself to shoot his classmates at the school dance. We must highlight Clay’s irresponsible “heroic” attitude when trying to stop an armed person who was aiming to kill. It is not the indicated message to deliver given the concurrence of these facts in the real life of the classrooms of the United States.

In general terms, I felt the series disconnect from the general line of the first season. The unnecessary role of a mysterious character (Montgomery) that threatens all who are going to testify with resources used in series like “Pretty Little Liars” turned this series into a poor teenage thriller in which the ghost of its main character does not fulfill her function: either to remember Hannah Baker (which is already done in the testimonies) or interpret the torment of Clay Jensen’s mind. The suspense of the content of the cassettes was not successfully replaced by threat letters or the mysterious origin of the Polaroid photos (another attempt at an anachronistic resource). Although it brings important topics to the table to open necessary dialogues, this season feels less “honest” about what kind of goal it has with its production: creating awareness or leaving open ends to focus more on the continuance of this “show.”