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Posted at: Jun 10, 2018, 12:04 AM; last updated: Jun 10, 2018, 12:04 AM (IST)

When guilt rips

The second season of American web series 13 Reasons Why is here, and it is setting the internet on fire
When guilt rips
NOT THE END: Katherine Langford in a still from the controversial mystery drama

Tanay Singh

BRIAN YORKEY is back with the second season of the American mystery web series 13 Reasons Why and it is already making waves on the internet. The series, currently streaming on Netflix, takes up the sensitive issue of teenage suicides, besides bullying and guilt.

 The entire series was released on May 18 on the web and drew 6.08 million viewers within three days of its release. American singer and actress, Selena Gomez, one of the co-producers of the show, has released two tracks for the show namely “Back To You” and “Only You”. A hit with teenagers, the show’s appeal is due to the realistic handling of issues being faced by teenagers. They can relate and sympathise with Hannah, who committed suicide after she was bullied, as well as the characters who feel guilty for provoking her  to take the extreme step.

 The series is based on Jay Asher’s 2007 bestselling novel 13 Reasons Why. It revolves around high school student Hannah Baker. She leaves behind a box containing 13 tapes recorded by her, each of which detail a reason why she took her life. These tapes formed the basis of the 13 episodes in season 1. According to Hannah’s instructions, these tapes were to be listened only by the individuals who were responsible for what she did to herself. She wanted them to know that they were accountable for her ruin and repent they must.

Although the series has been critically acclaimed for its subject and the message it is trying to spread, it has often been in controversy for the manner in which it portrays sensitive issues like teen suicide, bullying and rape. The second season is no exception as there has already been wrangle regarding the depiction of these elements in the series. The second season also brings forth issues like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), gun violence, alcohol and drug abuse, etc. Before the series released this season, it cancelled a premiere event in the wake of the Santa Fe school shooting to avoid any further controversies. Interestingly, the finale of the current season is centered around the possibility of a school shooting. The finale of the first season saw Hannah  committing suicide while the finale of the second season portrays a ghastly scene depicting sodomy. The scenes have been deemed as ‘too graphic’ and ‘too cruel’ for television.

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) saw the release of second season of the show as an opportunity to  begin conversations about mental health and suicides. Many other organisations dealing with mental health and suicide prevention have developed resources to assist individuals and families to watch the series and  encourage discussions. The APA has, however, cautioned vulnerable individuals and patients not to watch the series as it could affect their psyche. Therefore, the APA has said though the show might serve as a window to tackle sensitive issues, 13 Reasons Why isn’t everybody’s cup of tea.


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