8 ways ‘13 Reasons Why’ throws you into pits of darkness and leaves you there

Published: May 28, 2018

The show hit so close to home that it wasn’t just a show anymore, it felt personal. PHOTO: FACEBOOK/ 13 REASONS WHY

What would you do if you found out that your loved one was suffering?

“I just wish I die.”

These simple words, said in a moment of frustration perhaps, are taken merely as words. Sometimes, that’s what they are, but sometimes, they mean more. Nobody reads too much into it, but perhaps we should.

I was really young when I found out someone close to me was self-harming. At that time, I didn’t know what to do because I was still a child. The person told me about the cuts, the bruises and the sleeping pills. I did what you would expect a child to do, I told them to promise they would never do it again and they made me swore not to say it to anyone else.

That person is no more in this world. No, it wasn’t suicide but it could have been. For years, I have kept this secret because I promised them and for years I have drowned in the guilt because now I know what I could have done. They were suffering and I wasn’t able to do anything for them.

When I saw 13 Reasons Why, I remember crying, crying because I could have been on that person’s tapes. The show hit so close to home that it wasn’t just a show anymore; it felt personal.

This is why I was waiting for season two with anticipation. Because I wanted there to be justice. As naïve as it was, I felt that it was important for me to see at least Hannah Baker get justice. However, season two just made me lose hope all over again. Here are seven reasons why season two was disappointing:

1) Clay Jensen:

I have always related to this particular character. He seemed so conflicted throughout the show but what he was never conflicted about was Hannah. He loved her and regretted every second that he could not help her.

Photo: Giphy

In season two, we find out many secrets about Hannah that we did not know in season one. This of course involves Hannah and Zach Dempsey’s love story. As soon as Clay finds out about it, he immediately starts doubting Hannah, thinking what if she lied. He says that he is starting to believe that he didn’t even know Hannah.

Really, Clay?

Just because she had sex with someone other than you, you don’t know her anymore?

Why the producers would ruin this character like that, I will never understand.

Photo: Netflix

2) The case of two cases

Like I said, I wanted to see justice being served, especially when the show had angered all of us about Bryce Walker. Sadly for us, not only does Olivia Baker lose the case against the school, Jessica Davis loses her case against Bryce too. I say lose because a three-month probation is not a punishment; it’s merely a slap on the wrist. A man who has raped a girl when she was unconscious is given three months detention with community service just because they did not want to “ruin” their lives.

This is Brock Turner all over again. Is it not enough that we see injustice being served in reality? A show that is supposed to give us hope, give us closure and give victims strength is ultimately sending the message that nothing will happen even when you speak up!

After season one, we all hoped for justice to prevail in season two, but what we got instead was a promotion of sexism and a message that the rich will always have it better.

Photo: Netflix

3) The rape scene

Tyler’s character has always been complicated. He was bullied and ridiculed and it just felt like he might be the next Hannah. After the whole glorifying suicide issue, you’d think the show would tread carefully. But no, they actually make things much worse. We all know rape is brutal, it is probably the worst crime in the world. When showing such scenes, one needs to keep in mind how much graphic can you be till it is absolutely scarring.

You want to get the point across that this happens, great, we get it. But where was the discussion? Why was it not reported to counselors present in the school for this reason alone? Where was the message that don’t suffer in silence and seek help? Where is the hope? The show is sending a message to already troubled kids that hey, it doesn’t get better, so you might has well take justice and revenge in your own hands.

Season two went all out with Tyler’s rape where he gets sodomised. They are now facing an uproar and rightly so. That was too much, even for a show as depressing and open as this one. what’s worse is that we do not see Tyler get even an ounce of justice either. But then again, what good came out of Jessice’s case.

Photo: Screenshot

4) Jessica

What happened to Jessica was absolutely devastating. Alisha Boe has done a great job in season two. Jessica’s journey of coming to terms with what happened to her and moving on were emotionally beautiful. What did not fit well, however, was the love triangle brewing. I did not understand why there was a need for Jessica to choose between Alex Standall and Justin Foley when she was just recovering from a massive assault. It felt like the producers wanted to shove down the romance element when there was no need to. Jessica having sex with Justin just took it away from me. The story line at that point was squished because they wanted a happy ending for Justin, which does not happen considering his drug addiction.

In my opinion, the show including Jessica and Justin having sex in the storyline shows rape victims and their struggle in a bad light. We see the whole of season two with Jessica being not ready for any physical contact with guys, let alone a relationship. But lo and behold, there she is, kissing a guy she just met, and Alex at the dance, and then a moment later having sex with Justin. Rape victims are scarred for life, but whether they let it define them (Jessica) or not (Nina), is their choice. Yes, it’s her choice when she’s ready to move on and get closure, but this?

What the show could have done was show a little sensitivity in the matter. They could have just ended it with Jessica and Alex being together; there was no need to add Justin in the equation.

Producers need to understand that rape is real, and very common. They need to understand that if they are using rape as a plot point, they cannot just pick and choose when this girl is a rape victim. Justin is not some random boy, he is a boy connected to the rape, someone who doesn’t tell her she was raped even though he supposedly loves her. The show needs to openly communicate and acknowledge how Jessica is feeling, because Jessica hasn’t forgotten what happened, and neither have we. So why does the show want us to ignore the reality of what happened?

Photo: IMDb

5) Alex Standall

We know that he shot himself in the previous season. A lot of us thought that he might have died and it would start a whole new story. However, he survived but lost his memory. He did not remember anything about what was on the tapes and no one would tell him because they feared he’d try to kill himself again. The memory loss also felt unnecessary. It literally did nothing for the show. All it did was frustrate us because we did not want to go over the tapes all over again.

Photo: Netflix

6) Tyler

As mentioned before, Tyler was shown as a troubled kid. Throughout the show, however, he was portrayed as villainous. He did a horrible thing to Hannah, yes. But what followed was worse than he deserved. There were others who deserved a lot more than this kid.

The show in both seasons made sure that we do not feel pity for Tyler. We hated him, we tolerated him but not once did we care about him. He was raped in the end and at that point you felt guilty for hating him. But the show couldn’t let that happen, could they? Lo and behold, Tyler was all ready to commit a school shooting. Imagine if he had been successful, would we forgive him? Would we care about him? Would we bother understanding the reasons leading to the shooting?

Photo: IMDb

7) School shooting

Amidst the school shooting crisis in the US, you’d think that the show was trying to address the issue itself. It turns out that the shooting was a mere prop. No one highlighted how dangerous it was that Tyler had a crate full of guns at his house. There was no mention of gun control, in fact, they literally just brushed over it. For the show, the solution to a school shooting is just going to the kid and talking them out of it. As simple as that. For a show that portrays court cases “realistically”, this incident felt far away from reality, and also a little tone deaf.

Photo: IMDb

Photo: Giphy

8) Justice

Justice is nowhere to be seen in the show.

Hannah doesn’t get justice.

Jessica doesn’t get justice.

Tyler doesn’t get justice.

Olivia doesn’t get justice.

No justice for Mr Porter either.

So what is the message again? What do viewers, some of who could possibly be going through something similar, take home from this show? What makes them feel good about their lives? What’s the silver lining for them?

The show has always been depressing from the get-go, but I felt that was the point of it. After watching the trials and the defendant victim-blaming Hannah, I thought that this is the lowest point. It will just get better from here. But I was wrong. The show throws you into pits of darkness and does not let you come back up. It’s all downhill in the world of 13 Reasons Why. There is no justice, no hope and definitely no closure.

So the producers can justify it all they want, but maybe deep down they know they didn’t do enough either.

Maznah Shehzad

Maznah Shehzad

The author has graduated from LUMS with a BSc in Economics. In her spare time, she likes to go on feminist rants and take random quizzes on Buzzfeed. She tweets @Maazzzzyyy (twitter.com/Maazzzzyyy).

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.