Warning: This article contains major spoilers from 13 Reasons Why Season 2.
13 Reasons Why is facing controversy over several scenes in its second season. The first season of the Netflix drama made headlines for scenes featuring a rape and violent suicide, and now the second season episodes feature a controversial school shooting storyline and a graphic sexual assault scene that has some viewers outraged.
In the 13 Reasons Why first season finale, alienated high schooler Tyler Down (Devin Druid) was shown with an arsenal of weapons in his room, leaving viewers with a cliffhanger that teased a potential school shooting. Season 2 of the show picks up with Tyler channeling his rage by target shooting. But after he is brutally assaulted by Monty (Timothy Granaderos), Tyler arms himself with multiple guns and an assault rifle and heads to the Liberty High school dance. The second season ends with another cliffhanger centered around Tyler’s gun violence.
A Los Angeles premiere of 13 Reasons Why was canceled last week in response to the school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, that left 10 people dead. Ahead of the real-life tragedy, 13 Reason Why executive producer Brian Yorkey explained why the school shooting storyline is so important. The 13 Reasons Why boss explained to the Hollywood Reporter.
“We had a character who was obviously severely bullied, suffering from social isolation and was thinking of making a very tragic choice in addressing those feelings for himself. With season two… we’re very interested in continuing to follow his journey and to try to understand his state of mind and the state of his soul. I think you’ll see in the balance of the episodes that it’s very much about trying to understand Tyler’s character and how a troubled young man might be driven to consider this very difficult choice.”
13 Reasons Why producers were tasked with addressing gun violence without glorifying it. Yorkey went on to clarify that 13 Reasons Why is much more about understanding the troubled character’s journey than “seeing it end in the worst way possible.”
“The thing that’s interesting for us is the journey and trying to understand what goes into the experience of a young man who goes that route,” Yorkey said.
“For our part, we did as much research as we could. Unfortunately, there’s a great deal of literature about a great number of troubled young men who resorted to or almost resorted to violence to act through their feelings.”
Yorkey went on to explain that producers tried to be as authentic, accurate, and honest in the portrayal of Tyler, adding, “As with all things with the show, our hope was that we could honestly represent the experience; that our viewers might, through the experience, learn more and start more conversations about those issues in their own world.”
If 13 Reasons Why producers were hoping to start conversations, that mission has already been accomplished. Viewers who binge-watched the second season of the Netflix drama are speaking out about a graphic sexual assault scene with Tyler. The disturbing scene shows Tyler getting brutally assaulted in a bathroom, and it has left some viewers disgusted.
13 Reasons Why producer Selena Gomez previously told the Associated Press she expected backlash for the suicide scene last year, but she has not yet commented on the gun and sexual assault scenes this season.
“We wanted to do it justice and, yeah, [the backlash is] going to come no matter what,” Gomez said, according to Us Weekly. “It’s not an easy subject to talk about, but I’m very fortunate with how it’s doing.”
The second season of the controversial show kicks off with a warning message read by the cast members which echoes producers’ statements about starting a conversation.
“13 Reasons Why is a fictional series that tackles tough, real-world issues, taking a look at sexual assault, substance abuse, suicide, and more,” the warning says.
“By shedding a light on these difficult topics, we hope our show can help viewers start a conversation. But if you are struggling with these issues yourself, this series may not be right for you or you may want to watch it with a trusted adult.”
The trigger warning also encourages troubled viewers to reach out to a parent, friend, school counselor, or a trusted adult.
13 Reasons Why Season 2 is currently streaming on Netflix.