13 Reasons Why Season 2 : Your Kids Shouldn’t Watch This

Why You Shouldn't Let Your Kids Watch 13 Reasons Why S2If you have kids in high school, chances are you’ve heard about 13 Reasons Why.

Netflix’s teen drama is a HOT topic of conversation among Flea and her friends. But it’s a show that’s controversial. With themes of suicide, self-harm and sexual assault, it is something our kids should be watching? How old is old enough to watch?

I’m not generally a big censor of TV shows. I love teen shows, and I’m pretty happy to let Flea watch mature content on the proviso that we watch together, and can talk about the issues raised.

When it comes to 13 Reasons Why, we watched Season 1 together.

My only rule was that we skipped certain scenes (which I’d watched ahead) that I considered to be unnecessarily graphic and not appropriate for Flea’s age.

We had planned to take the same approach when Season 2 came out on Netflix recently. But having watched ahead, here are my (not quite) 13 Reasons Why I’d advise skipping Season 2.

Season 2 has Plot Holes Galore

I’m kicking off with a small reason. Maybe a petty reason. But I love TV and I expect the people writing it to make stories that seem real.

The first season of 13 Reasons Why was based on a hugely successful novel. It had structure, pace, dramatic build.

Season 2 seems like it came out of a frantic meeting where some Netflix exec decided this show was too profitable not to merit a second season.

The plot lines are – frankly – lazy.

A huge part of the story revolves around a clubhouse that’s been used by Bryce and the other popular kids for years as a hangout. How is that Bryce’s former best friend, and popular jock, Justin, knew nothing of its existence?

Makes. No. Sense.

Hannah’s Mum Has No Friends

Another small reason. But as Mum, it bothers me.

I get that Hannah’s Mum is grieving and focused on her daughter. What I don’t get is why the only people she seems to have to talk about this with are children.

Nobody ever seems to question whether this isn’t a bit weird or creepy. And nobody ever mentions her scary conspiracy wall? Only that seems like something a friend would mention.

Her relationship with Tony in particular is bizarre. Why is he so wise? Is it because he looks about 37? (I’m too lazy to google the actor here, but I’m willing to bet a lot of money that he’s a long time out of high school).

Get a therapist. Actually, this could apply to SO many characters. Why are these people so damaged but nobody is seeking treatment for their mental health issues?

 

13 Reasons Why is Needlessly Graphic

Season 1 was graphic, specifically the scenes where lead character Hannah is raped, and where she takes her own life.

The show’s makers would argue that it needs to shine a light on topics we don’t talk about enough.

But does it have to be a huge spotlight and a magnifying glass?

In this season in particular the scene where Tyler is assaulted was enough to make me look away from the screen.

The assault is incredibly violent, and comes out of nowhere. And then he’s brutally, sexually assaulted with a mop – and the camera work is designed (I feel) to be as shocking as possible.

For me, the scene wasn’t important or enlightening. It was gratuitous. And at the same time unrealistic. A fairly one-dimensional bully decides to take revenge by raping a fellow student in the bathroom. Hmm. Okay.

But NONE of the other students watching events unfold utter a word? Nobody says it’s going a bit far? Or checks to see if the guy is okay?

This show is seriously bleak.

Clay is Boring

Season 1’s narrator was Clay. This made sense because Clay was listening to the tapes.

I’m not sure why Clay is so hell-bent on getting “justice for Hannah” in Season 2. Or why he’s so invested in everyone else’s business?

He’s especially annoying when trying to persuade female characters about the importance of taking action against sexual assault while simultaneously being RIDICULOUSLY STUPID and sabotaging any hope they ever had of a successful conviction.

Positive Message 1: It Doesn’t Get Better

Quite apart from the graphic content and story holes, I have a bigger issue with what this show tells kids about life.

People in this show experience terrible things – self-harm, suicide, rape, bullying – and it NEVER gets better. Nobody gets justice. Even those who begin to heal are pulled back under again without time to take a breath.

I think this attitude goes to the heart of why I wouldn’t want my daughter watching this show.

It’s depressing. Seriously, 13 Reasons Why Season 2 is SO BLEAK IT HURTS.

 

Positive Message 2: Adults Are Useless

It’s a well-known cliche in teen drama that kids work out their issues between themselves.

But when you’re dealing with issues THIS big, then I think that’s actually quite a dangerous idea to present.

Being raped isn’t something that another 16 year old is equipped to help you with. See also self-harming, heroin addiction, owning a secret stash of guns, finding a box of child pornography – and so on.

It’s obviously more dramatically satisfying to have kids work things out themselves, but come on, writers! At some points, you need to go the police. Talk to a counsellor. A teacher. A relative.

It’s true that sometimes the first person you ask can’t help. But isn’t the point that you keep asking?

So many of the issues in this season could have been solved so much more quickly and easily if the kids had involved adults.

Positive Message 3: Don’t Bother Reporting Rape

As viewers, we know that Bryce is a compulsive sexual predator.

He’s raped at least two girls (Hannah and Jessica). In this season there’s evidence implicating him in assaulting multiple other girls, including his own girlfriend, who was unconscious at the time.

When Bryce is finally brought to justice and convicted, what happens? Three months probation. He’s back at school on Monday. For me, the message to girls watching the show was – why bother reporting rapes? You’ll just get called a slut, possibly become suicidal, and nothing happens to the guy anyway.

Not cool.

Positive Message 4: Guns are Fun

Sure, the overall message in 13 Reasons Why about guns is that they’re dangerous. Alex uses a gun to shoot himself, and Tyler’s got his whole school shooting thing going on.

 

But this show has a LOT of guns, and the kids get them remarkably easily. I’m not sure I’m cool with that. Even less with the idea that shooting guns is a fun way to relax in the woods after a hard day at school.

 

If you’ve watched 13 Reasons Why, I’d love to know your thoughts on Season 2. And especially if you let your young people watch. How old do you think kids should be when they watch this show? 

 

About 

Sally is a full-time blogger and founder of the Tots100, Trips100, Foodies100 and HIBS100 communities, along with the MAD Blog Awards. She spends a bit too much time on the Internet. She’s also a very happy Mum to Flea, the world’s coolest ten year old.

6 Comments

  1. 10th June 2018 / 8:59 pm

    We started to watch and got a bit bored early in the first episode. I sort of felt like I didn’t need to know any more about the story if that makes sense?

    • Sally
      Author
      11th June 2018 / 10:44 am

      I definitely get that – the first season was very well plotted as a complete narrative.

  2. 11th June 2018 / 2:00 pm

    Thanks for this, I’d heard similar elsewhere and was planning to watch ahead of deciding for Maddie, but I won’t bother now. Thankfully she’s not overly keen either – I watched the first season after she had watched it on her own on her iPad (Netflix locked down now!) and the whole school was obsessed, and thought it was okay as long as a parent watched too,, but this just sounds like too much. The worry is when kids are watching by themselves, without the knowledge of their parents on this one. Thankfully right now the obsession seems to be Love Island – another one I’m having to take a view on!

  3. 11th June 2018 / 6:48 pm

    I loved both seasons but preferred the first.
    I agree that the mop scene was brutal and unnecessary. I think some parts of the storyline felt rushed and not in enough depth. I definitely don’t think season 2 is suitable for under 15’s. Thankfully my 11year old has no desire to watch it.

    Sadly I see a lot of truth in some of the issues. I know people who haven’t bothered reporting rape, because in the majority of cases, you get nowhere with it. And because it’s hard, very hard, to go through all that in court.

    Myself and my friends went through a lot of tough times together in our adolescent years and only once did I ever tell a parent or the police.

    I think the show actually highlights two important issues. The first being that actually, not very many teens do seek help for mental health issues. I know I didn’t. I know none of my friends did. I know a lot of adults now also who are too frightened to get help for mental health problems. A member of my family who actually did get help for his mental health problems, then went and commit suicide. I think this highlights that actually people need to get help for their problems early on, because not enough do. And that better help should be available.

    Secondly, the gun crisis in America. Guns are reportedly very easy to get hold of. I don’t know much about it, but I felt the guns in this show were an attempt at hitting back at Americas gun laws.

    So in essence I agree with some of your points but I also think the show raises some important issues and is definitely not suitable for young teens.

    • Sally
      Author
      11th June 2018 / 7:13 pm

      I can’t agree with you 100 percent. There are three big points I can’t agree on:

      The issue of not involving parents. These are affluent kids from stable homes (with the exception of Justin). It doesn’t strike me as realistic that parents aren’t involved. In Season 1, yes, because the narrative device of the tapes demanded secrecy. But what’s the reason in Season 2? It’s a dramatic device rather than anything that feels credible. I found a box of photos of girls being sexually assaulted and I did…. nothing? Give me a break.

      Second, the message of there being no point in reporting rape is just reckless. By all means make a point about the woeful conviction rate for sexual assaults. We SHOULD talk about that and be angry about that. But Bryce was convicted. He got probation. Nobody seemed to have any view that this was completely appalling and unjust. To me THAT’S the dangerous message – telling a young girl watching that show that if she’s raped, nobody cares, nobody will do anything and even if her rapist is prosecuted, there’s no punishment? That’s reckless, horrifying and inaccurate (the average sentence for someone convicted of rape in the US is actually about ten years)

      Third – As to the issue of mental health services – I’m not hugely familiar with US figures but in the UK, around one in ten kids of that age (16/17) have a referral to some sort of mental health service via the NHS. Add to the huge number of people accessing private services (adolescent mental health provision in the UK is pretty woeful) and you can guess that the number could easily be as high as 20%.

      Yet in 13 Reasons Why, none of these kids are in therapy. Despite attempted suicide, deep trauma, attempted murder, extended bullying and a RIDICULOUS number of triggers, the adults in this show are depicted as wringing their hands and failing to haul anyone’s ass into therapy. This show largely depicts educated, middle class professional parents. It’s not just a storyline that’s completely unrealistic, it’s dangerous. The one kid who mentions he’s in therapy is mocked and a fight is started?? Come ON writers, you have to do better than that. It’s 2018, for goodness sake.

      Sorry, that was a whole rant. But I feel really strongly that this isn’t a show that’s helpful for vulnerable teens to watch. At all. And it’s just bad television. Which is almost as bad.

  4. 17th June 2018 / 5:19 pm

    As a mam to a 15 year old I know how popular this show is. I watched the last one with my daughter and thought it was good and raised important issues. The second series was just too much for her,I let her watch it but skipped a hell of a lot of scenes out. The Tyler assault was horrific and the whole gun thing and everyone getting away with bullying just didn’t sit right with me. X

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