TRIGGER WARNING – THIS POST TALKS ABOUT THE GRAPHIC NATURE OF 13 REASONS WHY SEASON 2, MENTAL HEALTH, SUICIDE, SEXUAL ABUSE, DRUG USE AND MORE. PLEASE BE AWARE OF THIS IF YOU CONTINUE TO READ ON. THANK YOU
Last year I wrote a very open post about the Netflix drama, 13 Reasons Why and how it glorified teen suicide. Just twelve months on and we have the second instalment in the series hit our screens and after hearing the outcry from the public at the last season, we, the viewers, were promised that the issues which were glossed over and glorified addressed properly.
The series starts with the main cast out of character telling you that if you are triggered or need help to seek the help of someone close to you, at school, a parent or guardian or a friend. I then noticed the certificate had been changed from 15 to 18 in the UK due to the sensitive nature. This I was pleased about but any teen who has already watched the first series is not going to pay attention to this in the slightest.
This series is worse, worse by far. This time the topics are not just in relation to teen pressures, rape culture and suicide, but these are all brought up again, but this time they have added mental illness including sweeping statements and stigmatising bipolar disorder, drug usage, underage drinking, gun violence, anarchy, self harm, the #metoo movement and worst of all, the graphic bullying and sexualized abuse that was given no warning.
In the mid 90s, a very well known tv series with Claire Danes aired, My So Called Life – which one of the actors from also stars in this as the Bakers solicitor. This show covered all of these topics, but did it right. It did it in a way that teens could easily watch and associate with the characters. It is really a shame that this series did not get more recognition for what it did for the 90s teen community. Where as 13 Reasons Why has an attitude of, fuck the world, stick it to the man, do what you want as there are no consequences.
This is a constant message throughout, that even though victims try and speak up, they are shamed into lying because they will be further victimised again. Even when there are charges raised for admitted rape and taken to court, the judge goes easy giving a three month probation order to the rapist and advises the victim to take a look at her own life – publicly blaming her for the situation and proving that there is a corrupt system, with insufficient punishment for anyone, especially athletes, who do wrong.
The issue of mental health is the biggest topic across this season and without the right support networks and people paying attention, teens suffer greatly. Though the manifestation of Hannah to Clay was clearly a mental health problem which is down to him not processing her suicide, it was not addressed. It was left as “ghost Hannah”. Skye and her admission to a psychiatric hospital for bipolar disorder was not properly addressed and made it seem that you cannot be a member of society and get locked up if you have bipolar – a huge statement to make and possibly scare teens to not speak out about mental health for fear of being sectioned.
We then have heroin addiction, punk/anarchy movements which get out of hand. But worst of all is the bullying and sexual abuse which takes place in the last episode. The graphic nature was too much for many viewers, leaving them physically sick and mentally scared from watching. Heaven forbid that young teens watch this, it is so graphic that most will not know what to do, but to laugh and make fun of, but also – is this just giving bullies further ideas, knowing that what was done, they got away with. No recourse comes from any of the inflicted abuse, in fact this pushes them on to do more, lie more, cheat more. Is this the type of culturised media we want our children watching? That they grow up thinking suicide, sexual abuse, violence, substance abuse and lying to adults is the way that they should behave?
In my previous post I mentioned that the graphic suicide scene glorified teen suicide, this season glorifies abuse and violence just as much, if not more. I actually cried watching this, not out of sadness for the plot, not out of grief because I associated with losing a loved one, but because I was scared being a parent and that my son may end up in situations like this. It was then I was so glad that I home educate him and the risks of bullying and mental health problems are now minimal.
Have you watched this season or do you plan on watching sometime soon? How do you feel about the cultural norms the show portrays? I would love to hear your comments below.
If you have been triggered by anything I have spoken about or the show, please make sure you seek professional help if needed.
Love, hugs and Polaroid pictures