13 reasons why we’re stoked ’13 Reasons Why’ has been renewed for S3
Hats off to Netflix and sucks to be you Parents Television Council – the streaming giant has decided to renew 13 Reasons Why for a third season. Yes, despite concerns from the parenting group as it got all uppity about S2’s male rape scene, arguing Netflix could have “the blood of children on their hands” for the show’s graphic depictions of suicide and sexual violence, the site went ahead and gave it the greenlight. And do you know why? Because 13 Reasons Why is a strong teen drama that’s not afraid to level with its audience and cover some of the most significant issues facing young adults today. Here are 13 reasons why we’re stoked 13 Reasons Why will be returning for a third season:
It levels with its teen audience
When 13 Reasons Why hit our screens last year, many praised the show for its depiction of suicide, mental health, sexual assault, school gun violence, and bullying while others expressed concern over the coverage of such topics. Although the Parents Television Council called upon the show to be cancelled, the fact is that 13 Reasons Why is an essential show that covers these subjects in a frank and honest way that many others are afraid to. Although we all love a bit of escapism, teens included, there are shows like Riverdale and Jane the Virgin for that. 13 Reasons Why has a far more important purpose, tackling these issues without sounding like an after school special and avoiding tired tropes to deliver a nuanced look at bullying, sexism, and suicide.
Teens reacted well to its depiction of suicide & depression
Depression and suicide rates among teenagers have been steadily rising across the globe over the past several years. For girls, the number of suicide deaths in the US have doubled since 2007 while the number for boys rose by 30% during the same period. Meanwhile, suicide is one of the top five leading causes of teenage deaths in America. These figures are no joke and clearly depression and suicide are subjects that should be discussed in the open in order to create solutions, which is what makes 13 Reasons Why such an impactful show. S1 depicts the suicide of teen protagonist Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford), who leaves behind a series of tapes revealing the events and the people who led her to commit the act, while the show incorporates narratives of depression including those dealing with the aftermath of sexual assault.
While these themes got the pants of many older viewers of the show in a twist, a study showed that out of the 1,700 young people in the United States who were questioned about their view on 13 Reasons Why, 71% said the show was beneficial for them to watch. Meanwhile, more than three-quarters of respondents said they learned about depression and suicidal ideation, including how depression might impact young people. “Ultimately, young people in the survey said they sought out more information and had new discussions after watching 13 Reasons Why,” noted Teen Vogue. So while some parents might have worried their little Tommy or Sammy couldn’t handle the big bad issues of the world, in fact shows like 13 Reasons Why create honest and frank discussions about such issues that could ultimately save lives.
It gives an honest depiction of rape and sexual assault
Another major issue the show tackles is that of sexual assault and rape culture, which it does so convincingly by using the narrative to highlight its persistence in schools, its dark evolution through social media, and most importantly, the debate surrounding consent. As The Feminist Feline pointed out, in the second sexual assault scene in which Hannah herself is raped, she is sober, completely conscious, and the attacker is the host of the party she is at. When the act is happening, Hannah doesn’t scream or call for help – she simply goes numb. “The scene shows that a victim does not have to ‘fight back’ to justify her assault. Everyone responds differently to violence, and traumatic experiences elicit a variety of responses from victims. Hannah’s reaction is not ‘wrong’ and it is important that the show makes that clear.”
The show tackles male rape too
The reason the Parents Television Council launched the campaign for the show’s cancellation is because of a male rape scene in the S2 finale showing Tyler (Devin Druid) attacked by three students in a school bathroom and sodomized with a mop handle. On the contrary to the angry backlash the graphic scene received, we think it’s important for male rape to be portrayed and discussed and as intense as that scene is, it doesn’t come close to the pain experienced by the people who actually go through such trauma. As creator and showrunner Brian Yorkey said following the backlash, “When we talk about something being ‘disgusting’ or hard to watch, often that means we are attaching shame to the experience. We would rather not be confronted with it . . . This is why victims have a hard time seeking help. We believe that talking about it is so much better than silence.”
The show sheds light on bullying in the modern age
Bullying has evolved thanks to the rise of technology and social media, meaning teens are potentially victim to cruel comments even when school’s finished and they’re back at home. “13 Reasons Why captures and lays bare the cold mechanics of how this happens, following the thoughtless circulation of a picture through to chilling consequences,” explained i-D.
It points teens in the direction of help and advice
To supplement its storylines on such controversial topics, Netflix also points its teen audience in the direction of help and advice if they too are suffering from any of the issues discussed in the show. At the start of S2, a group of the 13 Reasons Why stars speak in a video disclaimer that warns about the potentially disturbing subject matter, with Alisha Boe (who plays Jessica) stating, “If you are struggling with these issues yourself, this series may not be right for you, or you may want to watch it with a trusted adult.” The honest warning is teamed with a 13 Reasons Why website (mentioned at the end of each episode) that points its visitors in the direction of help on all the topics raised in the show, representing the showrunners and Netflix’s dedication to not only depicting these issues, but also helping those who are suffering from them.
We want to see more from the strong cast
13 Reasons Why features a strong ensemble cast that doesn’t depend on big names, but instead depends on big talent to hold up the show. S2 saw regulars return, including Dylan Minnette as Clay, Katherine Langford as Hannah, Brandon Flynn’s Justin Foley, and Alisha Boe as Jessica Davis, as well as Christian Navarro (Tony), Miles Heizer (Alex), and Justin Prentice (the evil Bryce). The cast also added a bunch of fresh faces – Samantha Logan as Nina, Ben Lawson as Rick, Allison Miller as Sonya, Bryce Cass as Cyrus, Chelsea Alden as Mackenzie, Kelli O’Hara as Jackie, and Anne Winters as Chloe – all of whom we can’t wait to see return in S3.
The storylines are strong
Following on from S1, the second instalment focused on the ongoing trial from a lawsuit filed by Hannah’s parents against Liberty High School. As the Bakers and their attorney (played by the wonderful Wilson Cruz) soldiered on, many of Hannah’s friends and classmates appeared in court to go through the conflicts discussed on the cassette tapes in S1, delving deeper into new areas of Hannah’s life we did not yet know about. Another storyline involved a bunch of Polaroid photos that implied further crimes of the jock rapist Bryce and we were shown the individual struggles of the central characters including Clay, Jessica, Alex, Olivia, and Justin. While it’s early days, we’re excited to see where Yorkey and co. take this storyline and the characters in season three.
Its soundtrack is boss
The soundtrack for both seasons of 13 Reasons Why has been killer so far, accompanying the dramatic scenes with an eclectic mix of songs old and new. Some of the best have included tunes by The Jesus and Mary Chain, Joy Division, Codeine, New Order, and Echo And The Bunnymen.
The Parents Television Council lost its case
As we’ve already said, the Parents Television Council should not have a say over a young adult show – the clue is in the name.
All the other anti-thirteeners have lost
It wasn’t just the Parents Television Council who were fighting for the show’s cancellation. Many viewers took to social media to express their disdain as they clutched their pearls in disbelief, with some claiming it was “narratively exploitative” and “unacceptable” while another claimed to be “traumatized” by the S2 rape scene. Here’s an idea for said viewers for when S3 rolls around – maybe don’t tune in? No one Clockwork Oranged you into watching the show.
What it says about modern TV
Even though the streaming behemoth faced backlash from all angles, Netflix did not back down. Before the days of VOD services, perhaps the TV networks would’ve caved into such pressure, but the renewal of 13 Reasons Why shows the power is now in the hand of the many, not the few.
We’ve already got a load of new details for S3
Although it’s early days, already a bunch of details have been announced regarding season three. First up, production will resume later this year and will premiere in 2019. Sticking to its format, S3 will have 13 episodes, Yorkey will return as creator and showrunner, and he’ll stand in with Joy Gorman, Mandy Teefey, Kristel Laiblin, Tom McCarthy, Steve Golin, and Selena Gomez as executive producers.