13 Reasons Why continues tackling taboo social issues with a third season

By Danielle Rice || Arts and Leisure Editor


Photo courtesy of whatculture.com.

13 Reasons Why, the show that sparked major controversy when it first came out in 2017, just released a third season on August 23. While the first two seasons covered intense issues such as bullying, sexual assault, and suicide, the third season covers new, yet just as deep and relevant issues. 

The show started off its first season closely based on the Thirteen Reasons Why book by Jay Asher—with a few embellishments, but season two and season three have greatly diverged from the novel’s plot line, with season three being the most original of them all. As movies and television shows stray from their novel’s original storyline, screen writers can oftentimes easily lose sight of the main purpose, and the stories can become contrived and seem to proceed purely for audience entertainment. Since season one of 13 Reasons Why covered the novel’s content, the show could theoretically have stopped there, with an intense but strong group of episodes. However, because of its popularity, it was continued. 

I felt that season two continued the storyline well, without totally diverging from the story’s central theme. With season one being Hannah’s story and the tapes, season two focused on the trial that ensued after Hannah’s parents sued the school. More secrets about the characters were divulged, making it still mysterious and innovative. 

Season three jumps ahead eight months, and most of the characters are in a very different place. With a new, spunky British character narrating the episodes, the season felt a little lighter starting off, but quickly delved deeper, with everything from gun violence to abortion. The season revolves around Bryce’s death as the characters try to figure out what happened to him. 

One issue I had with several events in this season was how the characters handle certain situations and specifically the lack of adult involvement. The second season seemed to be a turning point, since Hannah’s story was finally told to parents, law enforcement, and school officials, so to see characters go back to their old ways of hiding secrets seemed like a step backward. However, the story is not necessarily based on what should be done in those situations but rather, what these particular characters decide to do. This must be kept in mind, especially for younger viewers who might not have the judgement to discern when the characters are making good decisions and when they are making bad ones. One example of this is when Tyler almost walks into the high school with a loaded gun. In response, the characters keep it quiet and try to forget about it while watching after him. In that situation, they should have gotten Tyler professional help because of the seriousness of that potential action. 

13 Reasons Why continues to be a powerful television show, however, because it  doesn’t shy away from hard topics that other shows do. I felt that this season, even with its flaws, continued the bold storytelling that the show began in 2017. Viewers need to continue to have discretion, though, as new, possibly triggering topics come up every season. 

Sophomore Danielle Rice is the Arts & Leisure Editor. Her email is drice1@fandm.edu.

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