Cast: : Dylan Minnette, Katherine Langford, Alisha Boe, Brandon Flynn, Miles Heizer, Kate Walsh, Justin Prentice with others
Summary: After Hannah’s(Langford) death in the first season, her mother Olivia Baker(Walsh) has filed a lawsuit against the school. Meanwhile Clay(Minnette) and his friends discover a bunch of Polaroids that expose more truths about notorious bully and rapist, Bryce Walker(Prentice).
A little more than a year ago, a certain show called “13 Reasons Why” hit Netflix and became an overnight hit. It was one of those shows that claimed to talk about some hard-hitting issues faced by teenagers, centering its first season around a young girl’s suicide because of bullying, sexual assault, negligence of adults. Then, the actors became stars, Tumblr found its new obsession and thousands of teens found a new show to talk about in school. Soon, some controversies also joined along the way. Mental health experts criticized the show for glamourizing suicide, for portraying it as some kind of revenge fantasy. They said it is harmful for teens who are already depressed and suicidal; some schools in US and other countries also opposed it.
But for all its faults (I have my own problems with it), the first season of the show still had a fair amount of clarity. It had a voice and it talked about something, however problematic it might seem. It wasn’t something revolutionary or outstanding, sure. But it wasn’t something that’s just unwatchable either (from a purely artistic point of view). It was better acted than most teen shows too (although I wonder, when will 26-27 year old actors stop going to high school?). I at least cared enough to finish the show, and form my opinion about it.
The same, unfortunately, can’t be said about the second season. It is, in simple words, a mess. An overlong, overstuffed mess that could have been avoided altogether, had the makers not tried to cash in on its popularity. It stretches the previous plot points like they have no elasticity at all. Editing is a problem too;each episode is at least 15-20 minutes too long. It looks like the writers completely forgot about what they wrote in the previous season, and inserted storylines that seem totally implausible and inconsistent. Also, there are some of the least gripping and sometimes borderline absurd courtroom scenes I have ever seen onscreen. Neither do these scenes have interesting dialogues, nor do they have particularly interesting things to tell. Also, the mystery they tried to form with the polaroids, doesn’t seem very mysterious at all. The writers just seem to throw in new information about Hannah’s past every now and then, all of which just do nothing other than muddying the plot, dragging it away from focus. It does talk about big issues, yes, and I give the show all the props for it. But the wrapper around all these talks is so overly dramatic, shallow and devoid of any depth, that everything just kind of crumbles.
One problem that I had with this show from the beginning was how it claims to spread awareness about teen suicide, but doesn’t seem to acknowledge mental illness or depression at all. Second season is no exception either. The fact that Clay can apparently “see” Hannah now, who is very much dead, but we never actually see the reason for it, is actually problematic. Glossing over possible mental illness just for the sake of portraying “young love” (and also it’s an excuse for keeping Katherine Langford, undoubtedly the brightest star of the show) isn’t particularly romantic, neither is using a wonderful actress as nothing but a lame plot device just to show how mopey the lead character is. It becomes very boring and ponderous.
There are some performances that are commendable though. Miles Heizer comes across as a really strong actor, so do Devin Druid and Justin Prentice- for all the one-dimensional villainy he has to do, he is actually good in it. Kate Walsh also shines as Hannah’s grieving mother. The show also features a moving montage of women sharing their #metoo stories in the last episode that is heartfelt, nuanced and commendable.
Sadly, a few highs can’t save such low lows. Talking about things that plague our society is important, as the show itself explicitly asserts this season, but it is also important to have enough nuance, depth and subtlety to do so without making it seem like provocation, which in this case, is absent. As of now, I can’t think of any reason for watching this boring, badly written, overdramatic mess of a series.
13 reasons why season 2 is now available for streaming on Netflix.