13 Reasons Why was Netflix’s biggest breakout hit for young adults in 2017, but will the second season live up to the hype?
In season one, which was a near perfect adaptation of Jay Asher’s novel of the same name, viewers were introduced to Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford), a teen who committed suicide and chose to tell her story after the fact through 13 cassette tapes, which went to those who contributed to her death. The season dealt with a wide range of issues from depression, bullying, violence, and sexual assault, all of which were both praised and criticised by viewers and critics for their unapologetic and confronting approach to the tough subject matter.
The second season, which picks up around five months after the finale, sees the depositions complete and the lawsuit that Hannah’s parents (Brian D’Arcy James and Kate Walsh) filed against her school for its role in her death, finally going to trial. Clay (Dylan Minnette) is trying to move on by dating Skye (Sosie Bacon), but there’s someone who will stop at nothing to keep the truth surrounding Hannah’s death concealed. A series of ominous polaroids lead Clay and his classmates to uncover a sickening secret and a conspiracy to cover it up. You’ll have to watch to find out where the secrets and lies lead though.
While season one focused on the tapes, it’s apparent that each episode of this new season will focus on one student per episode as they testify in the case, although this is only based off the first four episodes watched prior to writing this review. This choice allows the characters to tell their side of the story and offers new information that could change your perception of the events that played out in season one. The court case is one of the most interesting plot devices and provides probably the best story of the series as it shows that there are two sides to every story. This gives us a perfect examination of the characters as they are forced to tell either the truth as Hannah sees it or provide a different perspective on events previously seen.
The cast is, once again, sublime with Dylan Minette stepping up and giving one of the best TV performances of the year. Along with Kate Walsh, both deliver emotional performances as their characters attempt to get justice for Hannah. Adding to the standout performances is Alisha Boe, with Jessica given her chance to shine as the complicated journeys towards healing and recovery is shown, not just for her, but for other characters as they deal with their own demons.
The writers have done an exceptional job with a thought-provoking and honest portrayal of the tough topics covered in the season, which include, but aren’t limited to, drug use, homelessness, slut-shaming, and cyber-bullying. While 13 Reasons Why is, at times, confronting television, it’s taken every precaution to be honest about its tough subject matter, offering a 45-second PSA and warnings before the heavy subject matter takes hold in episodes, even with a reminder to go to www.13reasonswhy.info if you need help after every episode.
I’ll be honest, I had some major reservations about the show receiving a second season, but after watching the episodes past the season premiere, I can honestly say the series dealing with the aftermath is just as important as the story itself told in season one. The only minor drawback would be that some of the episodes run for an hour and are a little padded out.
Season two of 13 Reasons Why will once again polarize the internet, but if it leads to important discussions, then we are all the better for it.
Now’s the time to catch up on season one because you’re going to want to clear your weekend and see what happens next in one of the most compelling and important TV series of the year.
4 /5 stars
13 Reasons Why season 2 premieres Friday on Netflix