I have not watched season three of “13 Reasons Why,” and I do not plan on doing so.
Not only do I not support the show, but I don’t support the book either. I find it problematic that the author of a story about a young girl commiting suicide after being sexually abused has recently been accused of sexual abuse himself.
According to Vulture Magazine (2019), Jay Asher, author of “Thirteen Reasons Why,” was accused of sexual abuse from seven members of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). These seven women claimed Asher lured and threatened them into sexual relationships creating an unsafe atmosphere.
The Vulture article “Jay Asher Made a Deal” looks deeper into the 2017 accusations and said, “In short, the affair was handled the way these sorts of problems almost always had been: discreetly, for fear of damaging anyone’s reputation. It seemed destined to remain private, spoken of in whispers, if at all, as so many such incidents were before anyone had uttered ‘Me Too.’”
Jay Asher is suing for defamation after being removed from the SCBWI and suffering more economic loss.
Additionally, an article from NPR said there was a spike in teenage suicide after the debut of the show. The article included a study published from the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry that showed a 28.9% increase in suicide ages 10-17. “The number of suicides was greater than that seen in any single month over the five-year period researchers examined,” according to the article. “Over the rest of the year, there were 195 more youth suicides than expected given historical trends.”
Though this could not prove causation, researchers still warned against showing children this series.
The Netflix show added trigger warnings before each episode and removed the horrific scene from season one showing character Hannah Baker commiting suicide, but in my opinion, this is too little too late.
The third season seems to give Bryce Walker some kind of victory lap for becoming a better person after sexually assaulting women in the first season. I understand that people and characters are more complicated than originally depicted, but the show seemed to have veered far off the path of its original intention. The lack of consequence for a character like Bryce is problematic. Many characters achieve a redemption arc they don’t deserve which actually oversimplifies the same characters they are trying to make more dynamic.
“13 Reasons Why” never depicted suicide and mental health correctly, as the first season romanticizes suicide, especially as Hannah Baker creates those revenge tapes. This seemed to paint the idea that your voice has extra power when you’re dead, and Hannah’s suicide could be blamed on everyone around her. The show brushes over the topic of mental health and blames bullying instead.
I also think the show takes on too many issues to delve deep into one topic, which took a toll on the overall idea. If the show could have either focused on bullying or mental health or another topic, it could have encapsulated the point more efficiently and clearly. Instead, the show is muddled and gives mixed signals on what the point is.
Because this series takes on so much at once, they oversimplify issues. One of the characters, Tyler, brings a gun to a dance at the end of season 2. The other characters successfully talk him out of shooting and killing other students, but let me clear this up: If someone shows up to your school with a gun, call the police. Do not befriend them. Do not try to talk to them. Just call the police.
So what is the point? The show poorly depicts mental health. The show doesn’t create a healthy conversation about suicide. The show isn’t an accurate view of real life. The show isn’t an accurate depiction of adults assisting in mental health, and the show didn’t have mental health professionals involved in the creation of it.
The drama is not worth the watch. Save yourself some time and dive into some better and authentically deeper TV shows.