There are many reasons to avoid Season 3 of ‘13 Reasons Why’

October 14, 2019 — by Leo Cao

The third season returns with a similar callousness as previous two seasons

Season 3 of Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why” attempts to move on from the content of Jay Asher’s novel. This effort is a failure.

The first season of the series tells the story of Hannah Baker (played by Katherine Langford), a 16-year-old girl who commits suicide. She leaves behind a set of 13 cassette tapes for the 13 classmates that she blames for her death. Many argue that the first season glorified and promoted simple explanations of suicidal behavior, such as the quick and clean scene depicting Hannah cutting herself with a razor blade, which critics faulted for glorifying the act. Even with this potential flaw, the first season was an addictive and thrilling start to the series. 

Season 2 tries to move away from the controversy surrounding the depcition of suicide, but it fails. It continues to explore the difficult truths and real issues that teenagers face, such as the protagonist Clay’s (played by Dylan Minnette) oxycodone addiction. 

Season 3 is less controversial. Itsteers away from a romanticized depiction of suicide. But it insists on exploring serious real-life topics, such Tyler’s (played by Devin Druid) threatened shooting spree at a school dance, in extreme detail, while failing to adequately research the topics. 

The latest season is essentially a murder mystery. Hannah’s rapist, a rich sociopath named Bryce Walker (played by Justin Prentice) is dead. He was a serial rapist and many of the main characters wanted him dead, including the protagonist Clay (played by Dylan Minnette) who developed a crush on Hannah when she was alive. Due to this, Clay becomes a suspect for Bryce’s murder. In order to prove his own innocence, he has to find the real killer.

This sounds like a potentially interesting storyline — it is unique and allows the audience to root for the murderer, as he killed a serial rapist. 

As promising as it is, however, the season ends up being extremely slow paced, filled with repetitive scenes of sad teenagers crying about problems such as drug addiction, deported parents and college scholarships. The episodes essentially rotate among these.

There are very brief moments that remind the audience why portraying teenagers’ real problems can pay off. One episode shows the process that Bryce’s ex-girlfriend goes through to get an abortion. The procedure included going to a pregnancy crisis center to help her pay for the procedure, running into protestors outside the clinic and returning to the center after a mandatory two-day waiting period. The process of abortion is rarely depicted on television and is worth laying out in detail.

Too often the show starts in a compelling direction and then immediately veers off into a lazy portrayal of serious issues. 

For example, the series develops the storyline of Tyler, the school shooter, emphasizing how he was raped and pushed to his limit by bullying. This follows a common myth about the profile of a school shooter, and contains no factual basis. In real life, shooters are made up of many types of profiles. While many shooters are depressed, they share few characteristics besides that. They don’t have to be outcasts; even the Columbine shooters had an active circle of friends.   

The lackadaisical depiction of controversial events makes the plot unpleasant and even dangerous, giving teens an inaccurate perception of the issues. In fact, there is little reason for the show to exist anymore. The “13 Reasons Why” storyline has been exhausted, and there is nowhere left for it to go. Sadly, it will be back for a final season next year.


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