13 Reasons Why Season 2 debuted today, and fans of the show will notice that the series opens with a warning about the show’s straightforward depiction of teen suicide.
As People reports, the teen drama has been sharply criticized for its portrayal of sensitive subjects, not the least of which is teen suicide (more on the controversy in a few paragraphs). To that end, Season 2 will now begin with cast members Dylan Minnette (Clay Jensen), Katherine Langford (Hannah Baker), Justin Prentice (Bryce Walker), and Alisha Boe (Jessica Davis) giving a disclaimer about the show’s content.
“13 Reasons Why is a fictional series that tackles tough, real-world issues, taking a look at sexual assault, substance abuse, suicide, and more. By shedding a light on these difficult topics, we hope our show can help viewers start a conversation.”
For those not familiar with the show, the first season of 13 Reasons Why told the story of a teenager’s suicide. Though her suicide was initially viewed as unexpected, Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford) releases 13 audio tapes explaining her reasons for taking her own life. Without revealing too much in order to avoid spoilers, we’ll say [obliquely] that the show delves into such issues as depression, bullying, and sexual assault.
13 Reasons Why: Season two is ‘unnecessary’, critics say https://t.co/kU8rWbNP7I
— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) May 18, 2018
So controversial was the show that it’s even been banned in some places. In Canada, at least one school has banned teachers and children from even talking about the show on school grounds, according to Variety. And in New Zealand, the government banned children under 18 from watching the show without an adult, according to the Guardian.
Here in the States, reaction has been equally harsh. For example, in a USA Today op-ed piece, Harold S. Koplewicz called on Netflix to take the show off the air. Similarly, the Parents Television Council, described by Newsweek as “conservative censorship advocacy group,” urged Netflix to hold off on releasing the second season of the hugely-popular show until more research is done on the topic of teen suicide. Specifically, the group wanted to give the psychiatry and pediatrics industries time to determine if there was a link between the show and an increase in suicidal thoughts and behaviors in teenagers.
To help with those controversies, Netflix has gone beyond just the disclaimer. There will be “trigger warnings” for scenes dealing with sensitive subject matter. Further, a graphic at the end of each episode will direct viewers to a website (13ReasonsWhy.info) where they can get help with the issues brought up in the show.