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We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

TV Series Review

It’s been months since Hannah Baker killed herself. But the pretty high school student's tragic tale continues to haunt the halls of Liberty High … in more ways than one.

Many at Liberty, particularly the folks who run the school, would rather forget all about Hannah. But that’s pretty much impossible, now that Hannah’s mother, Olivia, is suing the school for not doing enough to save her daughter. Every day, another student is dragged to the court's witness stand, unveiling the raw, sometimes bitter truth of Hannah’s descent into despair … and revealing uncomfortable truths about themselves in the process.

If the first season was all about Hannah speaking from beyond the grave via old-school cassette tapes, this season it’s the students’ turn, with each one divulging their guilt, lies, hurt and recriminations under oath, so help them God.

And while the school has banned all talk of suicide on school grounds, what happened to Hannah can’t be forgotten or—in some cases—forgiven. Hannah may be gone. She may have been bullied and marginalized when she was alive. But now, in death, she’s somehow more influential—more alive, perhaps—than ever.

That’s all too true in Clay’s case. Once one of Hannah’s best so-so friends and would-be beau, Clay claims not even to think about the dead girl anymore. But that, we know, is a bold-faced lie: Hannah literally haunts him—even striking up conversations when the moment seems right.

“You don’t care about me anymore?” she asks Clay. “If that’s true, why am I here?”

School Spirits

Last year, the first season of 13 Reasons Why exploded into a bona fide cultural phenomenon for Netflix, launching a thousand think pieces and becoming one of the streaming service’s most-binged shows. Based on Jay Asher’s book Thirteen Reasons Why, the season dealt with timely, terrible teen issues, ranging from bullying and cutting to sexual assault and, of course, suicide.

But along with the buzz came controversy—a lot of it. Mental health professionals took issue with how these grave problems were addressed on screen: Even as the show’s creators (including executive producer Selena Gomez) argued it was designed to create conversation and, thus, prevent suicide, some accused it of feeding suicidal tendencies—from Hannah’s accusatory tapes to the graphic depiction of the suicide itself. Some parents accused 13 Reasons of actually inspiring their own children to kill or attempt to kill themselves.

For its second season, Netflix has tried to address some of those concerns, posting trigger warnings at the beginning of some episodes and offering a bevy of services, from discussion guides to crisis hotline numbers and addresses.

But while all those may be welcome additions, they hardly ameliorate concerns with the show itself.

Reasons to Watch?

Trigger warnings or not, the second season of 13 Reasons Why deals with some incredibly difficult issues. And while the show might indeed inspire some teens to talk about their own problems with parents, professionals or others, it could very well influence others to explore dark pathways they hadn't traveled before.

But even if we were able to set aside the show’s sometimes despairing tone and grave philosophical issues, we’d still be sounding plenty of alarms here.

Sex is at the center of this show as much as suicide is. No episode is complete without several allusions to sexual assault. When we get into consensual relationships, a curious number of them are of the same-sex variety. And when high schoolers engage (or try to engage) in "old-fashioned" heterosexual sex, parents seem often to be unconcerned or even downright supportive.

And while parents are largely supportive figures here, they still do little to stem the tide of disrespect and outright lies that come from their children. Language can be truly abysmal, too: Each episode would be, unquestionably, rated R if it made its way to movie houses. (They're all rated TV-MA, it should be noted.)

That's more than a little troubling, given that 13 Reasons Why is unquestionably targeted toward teens.

13 Reasons Why may indeed open some doors to conversation. But frankly, those important conversations don’t need a trigger like this—particularly since the show may trigger a whole bunch of other risky behaviors along the way.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements

Conclusion

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

"Episode 3: The Drunk Slut"
"Episode 13: Bye"
"Episode 10: Smile, B--ches"
"Episode 1: The First Polaroid"
"Episode 6: The Smile at the End of the Dock"
"Episode 12: The Box of Polaroids"
"Episode 5: The Chalk Machine"
"Episode 4: The Second Polaroid"
"Episode 7: The Third Polaroid"
"Episode 8: The Little Girl"
"Episode 11: Bryce and Chloe"
"Episode 9: The Missing Page"
"Episode 2: Two Girls Kissing"

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

Genre

Drama

Author

Cast

Dylan Minnette as Clay Jensen; Katherine Langford as Hannah Baker; Christian Navarro as Tony Padilla; Alisha Boe as Jessica Davis; Brandon Flynn as Justin Foley; Justin Prentice as Bryce Walker; Miles Heizer as Alex Standall; Devin Druid as Tyler Down; Ross Butler as Zach Dempsey; Amy Hargreaves as Lainie Jensen; Derek Luke as Kevin Porter; Kate Walsh as Olivia Baker; Michele Selene Ang as Courtney Crimsen; Anne Winters as Chloe; Bryce Cass as Cyrus; Allison Miller as Sonya; Samantha Logan as Nina; Kelli O’Hara as Jackie; Chelsea Alden as MacKenzie; Ajiona Alexus as Sheri Holland

Director

Distributor

Network

Netflix

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

Released

On Video

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Paul Asay

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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