The kids are alright: 13 reasons why Netfix shouldn’t cancel ’13 Reasons Why’
It’s been over a year since Netflix dropped 13 Reasons Why S2. While we wait patiently for a S3 airdate, we thought it was high time to revisit all the reasons why the Parents Television Council were so wrong when they called for the teen show to be cancelled.
We’re yawning as we write this because – predictable as ever – the Parents Television Council is urging for 13 Reasons Why to be cancelled by Netflix. The PTC are especially up in arms for how the show has depicted a scene of male rape in the final episode of S2. PTC President Tim Winter is wagging his finger violently at S2 of the show and has stated:
Netflix has delivered a ticking time bomb to teens and children who watch 13 Reasons Why. The content and thematic elements of the second season are even worse than we expected. We would have liked to have 13 reasons for hope and redemption following the graphic suicide of the lead female teen character, but rather than providing a path forward, the season only provides cause for despondency.
Groan. We don’t want the show cancelled one bit. Here are 13 reasons why Netflix shouldn’t:
13. It doesn’t patronize its audience or sugar coat reality
While it’s nice to enjoy the escapism granted by fantasy teen shows like Riverdale, The End of the F**king World, and Runaways, there’s a distinct value in the way that 13 Reasons Why decides not to shy away from some of the ugliness and brutality of modern America.
By exploring a number of challenging issues in an extremely honest manner, the show doesn’t talk down to its young audience, but is actively talking directly to them and encouraging discussion about their lives and their respective challenges as young people. It takes guts to do that and 13 Reasons Why should be applauded for addressing such painful topics head on.
12. It talks about issues no other TV show is daring enough to touch right now
From high school gun violence to rape culture and mental health issues to substance abuse, 13 Reasons Why focuses on some of the gnarliest and most discomforting issues affecting young people today.
The show has been accused of being exploitative and irresponsible in its graphic depiction of such issues, but we’d argue it’s more irresponsible not to delve deep into the realities of these issues – no matter how uncomfortable such scenes may be for audiences to watch. 13 Reasons Why would be doing a disservice to its audience if these scenes weren’t utterly harrowing and instead only skimmed the surface.
11. Teenagers need these stories right now
Growing up sucks – that’s just a basic universal fact. Growing up in the current increasingly divisive and violent society of modern American must suck extra hard.
We’re way too old to be offering any insight into how kids today must be feeling, but we can’t help but think that a show like 13 Reasons Why at least offers young adults an outlet for their fears and struggles. One that potentially makes young people and their everyday concerns feel heard and valued. What message are we sending to young adults if 13 Reasons Why is to then be cancelled?
10. The show is engaging with its own controversy
Admittedly, S2 of 13 Reasons Why isn’t quite as smooth as the first, nor is it as well written (some of the plot contrivances involved in forcing Katherine Langford’s Hannah back in the plot as often as possible are nothing short of clunky, for instance). But its approach to addressing the controversy of S1 is smart as hell.
Through courtroom interrogations of key characters from S1 regarding their potential shortcomings in saving Hannah from suicide, the show’s creative team and Netflix appear to be reflecting on their own shortcomings in not plastering that first season with trigger warnings and helpful resources.
9. It discusses rape in a smart, respectful, and constructive manner
S2 has come under a great deal of controversy for depicting a brutally graphic rape scene against Tyler (Devin Druid), prompting outrage from all the usual pearl clutchers. However, what many of these outraged upholders of morality have failed to mention is how wonderfully 13 Reasons Why has also explored the subsequent trauma and PTSD of rape.
In S2, Hannah’s rape (and the rich kid serial rapist who is seemingly getting away with it) are explored from a structural perspective with the show exploring how a community could work together to potentially help prevent such attacks. Likewise, Jessica (Alisha Boe) is shown dealing with her subsequent trauma after being raped by Bryce (Justin Prentice) in S1 of the show.
Tyler’s rape scene is harrowing to see but it’s also necessary for showing the reality of such an attack. By cancelling the series at this stage, Netflix would take away an essential (and rare) examination of male rape and how a young man deals with the subsequent trauma of a sexual assault.
8. Adults have too much to say about this show without realizing it isn’t for them
Did you roll your eyes at The Hollywood Reporter’s review of 13 Reasons Why that stated S2 is “a frustratingly unnecessary mess”? Us too. Frankly we’re of the opinion any critical review of why the season and show is bad from anyone over the age of 20 isn’t something to be listened to. If teenagers are still talking about it, engaging with the ideas raised in the show, and watching the shit out of it, who gives a good goddamn what any adults think? It’s not for them.
7. Netflix has taken enough measures to protect vulnerable viewers
In response to criticism the show didn’t offer enough support to viewers the first time round, Netflix plastered S2 with plenty of helpful resources and labeled episodes with descriptions of potentially triggering or disturbing content. As 13 Reasons Why creator Brian Yorkey suggested to Vulture, Netflix has stepped up in S2 and provided help. He also reasoned uncomfortable scenes are important for teenagers to see:
We fully understand . . . some of the scenes in the show will be difficult to watch. I think Netflix has helped provide viewers with lots of resources for understanding that this may not be the show for everybody, and also resources for people who do watch it and are troubled and need help. But the fact is that, as intense as that scene is, and as strong as the reactions to it may be, it doesn’t even come close to the pain experienced by the people who actually go through these things.
6. It provides a critical dialogue about the fine lines between good and bad
Every character in 13 Reasons Why is given enough complexity that at various points throughout the first and second season, every character has been depicted as both good and bad, highlighting that no person should be judged on superficial appearances alone.
That’s a solid lesson for teenagers learn. On the outside, Bryce is seemingly the athletic hero of the school when he’s actually one of the most toxic students there and on the other hand, a character like Zach (Ross Butler) is revealed to be incredibly sweet in S2.
5. It has the most interesting ensemble characters in teen TV
Speaking of which, next to Riverdale and Runaways, 13 Reasons Why features one of the best and most diverse cast of characters of any teen show. We want to delve deeper into the lives of all of them and be introduced to some fresh faces just as S2 has done with characters like Chloe (Anne Winters), Mackenzie (Chelsea Alden), and edgy goth Cyrus (Bryce Cass).
4. Ostensibly, it’s a horror series rooted in real life and it could help alleviate the stress of growing up
13 Reasons Why might not explore teen issues through the metaphors of sexy topless werewolves, hot vampires, or supernatural changes, but the often disturbing manner of the show makes it feel somewhat horror adjacent about the terrors of everyday life.
When you consider that watching horror movies has been proven to be good for people in relieving stress and offering a safe environment to engage with difficult topics, 13 Reasons Why could be perceived as doing the same with some of the more difficult aspects of growing up in modern America.
3. The Parents Television Council shouldn’t be given power
In the history of anything, when have teenagers ever responded well to being told what they can and can’t do and what is and isn’t right for them? The Parents Television Council has a long history of shoving its nose into content that doesn’t concern it. If Netflix decides not to go ahead with a third season, it’ll mean that the council has won and honestly, TV doesn’t deserve for it to have any final say on such decisions.
2. Teenagers should be allowed to decide whether they want the show or not
Seriously, they’re old enough to make those decisions, reach out for help as and when they may need it based on what they see in the show, and judge whether they’re ready to see the sort of graphic and disturbing scenes 13 Reasons Why often showcases.
1. There are more stories to tell
We want to see 13 Reasons Why continuing to move forward in approaching stories currently affecting young people today that aren’t being told anywhere else.