If you thought that season 1 of Netflix’s 13 reasons why is heavy, than beware of the season 2, because this one is even heavier than the first one.
While in the first season we followed heart breaking story of bullying, which ultimately lead Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford) to take her own life, in this season we see the aftermath. Her parents filed a lawsuit against the school and many of her colleagues are invited to testify about the culture of abuse, which school has never bothered to tackle. Naturally, the school will not tackle abuse committed by its football team, due to obsession of the US schools with competing in local and national competitions.
The importance of sport is visible in the fact that the coach of the football team gets paid more than student councilor, and his influence in the school is very visible. Naturally, he stands with his guys and his ignorance and lack of care goes that far that he says that he is sick of athletes always being targets of accusations. While watching this, I could not help but loudly shout, ‘if they were not assholes nobody would target them, now would they’?
As it always happens, it is Hannah’s life and personality that is being tarnished and attacked in order to defend the school. This leads to a bold statement by Jessica (Alisha Boe) who was assaulted by the same guy as Hannah. Jessica says she does not see the point in persecuting him for the assault when sweet, innocent and white Hannah is being destroyed even after she committed a suicide. Needless to say that Jessica is a mixed race girl, who does not believe in justice.
This season is basically about facing the past and coping with trauma. As Clay (Dylan Minnette) says, there is life before and after Hannah, and we get to see how kids cope with guilt and having to give a testimony in the court, where their intimacy is ripped to shreds too. We also see how these consequences escalate and how other people cope with loneliness and abuse, which freely continues in the school.
What is particularly remarkable is Netflix’s commitment not just to make a successful show and make profit, but also do a wider good. Therefore, at the beginning of the first episode we meet actors who present themselves and invite viewers to seek help if they need it, as well as warn them about the content and the fact they may not want to watch this series on their own. The series is truly depressive and even though I could not stop watching it since it came to Netflix last night, I did have to take a few breaks and watch The Big Bang theory to relax a bit. This did not take more than one episode, because 13 reasons why is not something you stop watching until you are finished.
In addition, after every episode viewers are invited to check the website with crisis information. This information is available at: https://13reasonswhy.info/
I checked the website and it offers plenty of information about the series and the cast, but also information about organisations that can help. What is more, this information is available for many countries in the world. I checked information for the UK and Croatia, and I have to say it has been professionally done. The Croatian language is well written, and organisations for the UK are the ones well known to help in suicide prevention. There is also a link to resources and discussion, with plenty of materials, and there are trailers to both seasons of the series and a special edition called ‘Beyond Reasons’, where producers and cast discuss a wider social issue of bullying in schools and suicide.
This series is not just a master piece but also a sign of commitment of Netflix I have praised many times before in my blogs. Netflix remains a prime example of the corporation that is good for society, not just because of this series and an amazing effort done to help in preventing suicide (and thus not promoting a programme where suicide is the main theme, which could be seen as appealing to young audiences bullied in schools), but also in the vast majority of their programme that promotes equality and diversity. Needless to say that this series will be one of the mandatory presentations in one of my classes next year, due to its outstanding social responsibility component.
On a final note, I think it is sad that in the year 2018 we still need to discuss bullying in school, that perpetrators of assaults still do not get punished, and that people can get away with anything pretty much, especially if they come from a privileged background. There will be lots of debate about this series and important social issues it tackles, but nothing will change unless someone finally tackles the culture of abuse, deeply embedded into all societies, thanks to never ending patriarchal rules and values. The system needs to be thoroughly changed and replaced with a new one indeed.
Thank you for reading.