Anticipation and Trepidation as Netflix Releases New Season of ’13 Reasons Why’

By Mark Walsh — May 14, 2018 2 min read
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Students, parents, and educators are either eagerly awaiting or bracing with trepidation this week’s release of the second season of “13 Reasons Why,” the show about a high school student’s suicide and other controversial topics.

Netflix will release Season 2 of the show on Friday, May 19. As is typical with many original shows on the service, all the season’s episodes will become available at once.

The 13-part first season was based on the Jay Asher novel of the same name about a set of cassette tapes left behind by 17-year-old student Hannah Baker detailing whom among her classmates she believes wronged her and led her to commit suicide. Young people binge-watched the series in huge numbers, while some educators and mental health experts expressed concerns that the show irresponsibly portrayed mental illness and glamorized teen suicide.

The second season is expected to focus on other students’ perspectives on Hannah’s suicide and will include a trial in the civil suit against the school district that was filed by Hannah’s parents.

Netflix did not respond to inquiries from Education Week, but the some of the show’s producers and actors told Buzzfeed News that Hannah Baker’s suicide will continue to loom large over Season 2, with viewers getting perspectives on her interactions. The first season focused on student Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette), who had a romantic interest in Hannah, as he listened to the tapes. (The tapes provide the entrée to flashback scenes.)

The tagline for the second season is “The tapes were just the beginning.”

In March, Netflix announced several steps it would take to provide more resources to parents on the topics covered by the series. Netflix said it was adding more resources to its website, including a discussion guide for parents. And there will be a new “Beyond the Reasons” episode at the end of Season 2, as there was for the first season, that explores the issues depicted in the show.

The National Association of School Psychologists, which expressed concerns about the first season, has issued updated guidance about the show.

“Importantly, there are indications that young people are watching or rewatching the first season in order to ‘be up to speed’ for the second season,” the Bethesda, Md.-based association says. “We strongly recommend that vulnerable children and youth (such as those struggling with depression, previous suicidal behavior, or trauma) not watch the first season, and most certainly not alone.”

The group says that given the possible storylines for Season 2 such as another suicide attempt, a rape trial, and a school shooting, “it is important for adults to be aware of what the children and youth in their care are watching. This includes monitoring access to content via computers and mobile devices.”

The association urges school psychologists and other mental-health professionals to talk to parents about watching the show with their kids. The group also recommends that children not binge-watch the show all at once “as doing so with intense content, particularly in isolation, can be associated with increased mental health concerns.”

A version of this news article first appeared in the Education and the Media blog.