Just as La Verne students return back to school, so do those at Liberty High School in Netflix’s adaptation of Jay Asher’s 2007 novel “13 Reasons Why,” now for a third season.
Since its controversial release in 2017, viewers have witnessed a rollercoaster of turmoil transpire as a result of high school student Hannah Baker’s suicide.
In season one, viewers watch as 13 characters learn why Hannah blames them for her death.
Netflix ended the season just as the book does, with Hannah taking her life – something the streaming service made unnecessarily explicit.
Season two is five months after Hannah’s death, following the trial her parents filed against Liberty High and chronicles how the community is recovering.
Now for a third season, likely not to be its last, the show is a game of “Clue” as Hannah’s rapist is pronounced missing, leaving everyone wondering: “who killed Bryce Walker?”
While the storyline is coming to a stretch, it is easy to recognize how drastically flawed the show has become.
This season’s “who did it?” mystery undermined the previous finale, never exploring student Tyler Down’s (Devin Druid) attempted school shooting to which viewers would have expected – a topic more likely to be explored in the future.
Following a similar structure to its previous seasons, each episode of the season eliminates a character who may have had a motive to murder Bryce.
A new character is introduced to narrate the season, Ani Achola (Grace Saif).
She is observant and somehow quick to be trusted by the shows regulars with their secrets. It is easy to dislike Ani as her intentions are difficult to sift through. Her mother works for the Walker family, allowing her to get to know Bryce despite the many warnings and rumors from her fellow classmates at Liberty High.
It is because of Ani that viewers see a softer side of Bryce, one of which is openly remorseful and desperately wants to grow and move forward.
This season was an attempt to humanize Bryce Walker, a choice that was highly inappropriate as it made viewers guilty for wanting to sympathize with him, myself included.
The show’s attempt to clean Bryce’s slate of past wrongdoings ultimately served to be an insult to his victims, whose lives he turned upside down.
As a reader of Asher’s novel, I still firmly believe that the show should have ended after its first season.
According to the show’s online discussion guide, “13 Reasons” is “…to help guide productive conversations around the tough topics the series raises and how these situations can be addressed particularly if viewers resonate with any of the characters.”
As I approached season three, I genuinely wondered if Netflix would be more sensitive while addressing certain topics, especially considering the continued backlash they received just this year after studies suggested the show was related to a 28.9 percent increase in suicide rates during the month of April 2017.
While the show is littered with controversy, this new season has some redeeming qualities.
This finally felt like the first season where I was not holding my breath and looking between covered eyes to get through an episode.
Now that season three has been released, it will be interesting to see the way that writers continue the show’s narrative without doing more damage to the desire to spark meaningful conversations about difficult topics like these.
I will admit, I am awaiting the next, and hopefully final, season with low expectations.
Jaycie Thierry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.