The first season of ’13 Reasons Why’ was fantastic. While it did rack up a substantial amount of controversy, with many suggesting the Netflix Original romanticised suicide, while others stated that it was an honest and raw portrayal of events that can catalyze one to commit suicide. However season 2 left me annoyed, incredibly frustrated and truly regretting having stayed up all night watching a show that should have ended at its first season.
The renewal of season two felt like just a trap to lure in more subscribers by leveraging the first season’s success in all honesty
It’s poorly written, dragged extensively and an incredible disappointment (oh, and a waste of my life for the most part).
In a video disclaimer before the show begins, many of the main cast appear as themselves to warn those who are “struggling with issues such as sexual assault, substance abuse, and teen suicide, this series might not be for you.” This was a laudable and very respectable way for Netflix to craft the teen-centered drama with a more serious undertone.
So before we dive into season two’s review, let’s recap season one. After Hannah Baker commits suicide, she leaves behind 13 cassette tapes that each explain who all contributed to the events that led to her decision to end her life. The first season transitioned back and forth from past and present, with close friend Clay and her parents trying to understand just what happened and where they went wrong. The season did justice, as it unraveled issues of sexual assault, rape, and alienation within a high school setting, just a few of the factors that led Hannah to commit suicide. Each tape served as an unfurling of the show, and as we got closer to the terrifying kernel, the season ended with everything having been figured out. When a second season was announced, it left many wondering if there was any reason to renew it; everyone involved in Hannah’s life could finally move on.
This season replaces cassettes with polaroids, and the entire season with tropes of the trial ensued by Hannah’s parents against Liberty High School. While the trial progresses. we’re given more details about Hannah’s past, which convolute the drama and deems it unnecessary when it’s already so complex. Clay’s rightfully hellbent on bringing forward Bryce who has raped more than just Jessica. But Bryce has connections, with a high profile father and his baseball team as his sturdy backbone. He’s a recidivist rapist, and is scarily very, very confident.
One condemnable dynamic within the season is the close attention paid to white privilege and rape culture in America, however, Jessica isn’t a role model despite being a victim; she’s far from it especially after she spends a whopping 11 hours refusing to name her rapist. Nonetheless, her coping with being raped is a display of strength, as she tries to continue with normal day-to-day life.
It’s far more dramatic than the first season, and that’s where I felt like I was wading through the drama, tirelessly especially when Hannah turns up as a ghost and follows Clay around. Hallucinations would have sufficed for an injection of emotion without drowning further away from reality, but nope; she’s a ghost. This is the point I bid goodbye to take anything in the show remotely seriously. Perhaps it has a deeper tone that in fact, Clay’s mental health is deteriorating, but it wasn’t keyed in on in the slightest.
Season 2 is undoubtedly darker and more harrowing than the first one. It also proves that Hannah was an untrustworthy narrator because the current narrative strongly contradicts the way we saw her previously, with a starkly different picture coming together about who Hannah was. I personally felt betrayed watching season two, because the first season felt like a complete lie. Hannah was in a very different situation when she committed suicide, based on season two.
It honestly felt like a waste watching season one, what with the new version of stories unfolding around Hannah when she was alive, and that the first season was far from the truth. The season is tirelessly layered, with courtroom scenes incredibly boring to watch. Far too many themes are thrown into a decaying pot, from consent, bullying, homophobia, cat-fishing, infidelity, guns and addiction.
The final episode is left open-ended, a little overdone, with the only touching scene being Clay hearing his song ‘The Night We Met’ play at the prom, and all those involved in Hannah’s death slowly come together and cuddle as the song plays on. And while nothing significantly harrowing happened throughout season two, like how Jessica is raped by Bryce, but the last episode was especially upsetting to watch, and will definitely be a spearhead of criticism as more people watch it, however, it won’t start a conversation. At. All.
Have you seen season 2? What are your thoughts on it?