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The 1st Season of 13 Reasons Why spun the tale of Hannah Baker, a young high school teenager who tragically ended her life. Season 2, the setting is five months after Hannah’s death. Her parents, the Bakers, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Liberty Highschool, stating that the school knew that Hannah was being bullied and didn’t intervene. The narrative focal point this time around gives more insight into her relationships with other characters and the secrets that they hold. Hannah is no longer the main narrator. Each of her classmates gets an episode or two where they give exposition as they testify before the court as witnesses. This month will serve as a continuation of my last review. I’ll be covering the court case, a few character plotlines, and the ending to this season.
As someone who dealt with ruthless bullying in HS, it’s not always the aggressive actions alone that impact the victim. It’s the slow isolating rumors that cause friends to ignore you, or else they also would become the victim. Throughout Season 2, Hannah had developed strong friendships with several characters, but when push comes to shove, they leave her preferring to fit in with the crowd. For example, one character named Courtney Crimsen struggles with her sexuality. In Season 1, she’s on one of the tapes, and she and Hannah are caught in a candid photo kissing. Once rumors swirl around Liberty regarding the two of them, Courtney decides to lie and make up a rumor that Hannah is promiscuous and the other girl (Courtney’s face was not depicted in the photo, only Hannahs) was another lesbian at school. In this example, you have someone, Courtney, who is not ready to come out and fabricated a story to take the target off of her back. Hannah, who is not a lesbian, decided to give Courtney her first kiss, which was used against her later. During the trial on the witness stand, Crimsen states openly and proudly that she is a lesbian and regrets her actions that hurt Hannah. Teenagers can deal with all sorts of interpersonal storms, and don’t always choose the right way to handle them due to their youth. I don’t think Courtney went out of her way to be malicious; she just dealt with the situation by defaming another person because she wasn’t ready to come out. She had no idea that it would cascade into Hannah’s demise.
The court trial continues this theme. A character takes the stand, and they reveal secrets and revelations about the school and Hannah. Cryptic polaroids sent by a secret antagonist to demotivate individuals from testifying in court. There are a lot of elements that will keep you captivated throughout this season.
I think 13 Reasons Why falls to the wayside with how it handles the assaults of female characters. One plot thread deals with a sports clubhouse where boys from the baseball team take girls there, and terrible things happen. Jessica is another main character who deals with being victimized, and I don’t think the show handles this subject matter with the care that it needs. Late in the season, even a male character named Tyler gets viciously assaulted. It’s a lot to take in, and I had to take several breaks to finish an episode sometimes.
Overall, I can see attempts to shine a light on what actually can happen to highschool students. The trial setting attempts to hold the school accountable and begs the question of what responsibility do our schools have to protect their students. I won’t spoil the ending of the trial; all I can say is that each testimony is engaging and keeps you glued to your screen. Season 2 doesn’t quite reach the highs of the first season, rather it serves as a satisfactory follow-up that ties up loose ends and gives character exposition that was missing from its debut season. I still like season 1 the best but this one isn’t bad.
If you have any thoughts on the show, I would love to hear from you!
Please take care.