Warning: Content may be distressing for some, please find helplines at the bottom of the page.

Before the second season of 13 Reasons Why was released, Netflix sent out information about all the new warnings and resources they'd put in place with the hope of "supporting more meaningful conversations".

Credit where it's due, said resources are good: A warning video plays automatically at the beginning of the season and after every episode, there's a link to a website that has local resources, helplines and discussion videos about the topics in the show.

But it's all for nothing, because I've watched season two and despite its accompanying materials, 13 Reasons Why itself remains ridiculously gratuitous and irresponsible and should be cancelled.


Granted, it does offer more hope around depression and suicide this season, teaching people how to help those in need and illustrating what it's like to be a survivor, particularly with Jessica and Skye's storylines.

But it also features yet another painfully graphic rape scene - a scene in which a boy named Tyler is held down, crying and screaming, and sodomised with a mop handle.

In the press, the creators say they wanted to shed light on the issue of male rape and encourage conversation. The truth is, it was merely a lazy, harmful plot device - and the show's executive producer, Brian Yorkey, admitted it.

In Netflix's accompanying Beyond the Reasons video, Yorkey said they included the graphic scene because: "It was important for us to try to bring the audience over to Tyler's side."

He then waffled on about starting a discussion and yes, it is important to discuss these issues. But do teenagers - who this show is made for - need to see it in bloody, graphic detail? No. No one does. I was shocked and in tears.

I cannot imagine how a survivor would react. I cannot imagine how teenaged me would've reacted. I can tell you that it completely eclipsed my entire day - it brought up every injustice I and those around me have suffered and it hurt. It still does. And this was on top of the continuous flashbacks to two other rape scenes from season one.

What good is a show that says all the right things about sexual assault but then continues to use it as a plot device for shock value?

Then there's the reason they wanted us to pity that character; because he later takes an automatic weapon to the school dance. It's supposed to give a human face to the shooters behind the headlines and that's admirable - those kids have obviously suffered some trauma and their stories should be told, just... not by these guys.


The whole series leading up to that point made gun violence look like a very real and preferable option. Talking to adults wasn't working, the justice system wasn't working and vigilante justice seemed like the only solution, just like Tony's past violence and Clay's revenge porn payback last season, which, for all we know, set Tyler on his path in the first place.

They showed scenes with kids learning how to use guns and a grieving mother at the shooting range - scenes that presented gun use as a bonding moment and ways of letting off steam and reclaiming power. Twice, kids used guns as a way to take matters into their own hands - three times if you count the attempted suicide from last season.

There was never a question of how to get guns, never a discussion of safety or repercussions.

And then, it showed the series' hero stopping the gunman by standing in his way, which is obviously a horribly unsafe message - particularly in America, where teens' chances of encountering that situation seem frighteningly high.

The problem is that the resources preach messages that the show contradicts, assuming teens will go out of their way to access the information rather than just binge-watch the series.

Jessica has one of the few storylines where the messages match up with the show. Photo / Netflix
Jessica has one of the few storylines where the messages match up with the show. Photo / Netflix

They say: Talk to an adult, help those in need, speak out and intervene before it's too late.

But in the show, many of the adults don't understand; a character is shamed for trying to end his own life; sexual assault victims are ridiculed and further attacked and no one really manages to stop someone before it's too late - or if they do, it's a band-aid on an amputation.

Just like last season, there's no hope. It is bleak and depressing, scarringly graphic and stupidly glamorising in its treatment of guns and ideas of vengeance.

If anything, the problem is worse now because after all the backlash from season one, they simply should've known better.

A gratuitously brutal rape in the era of MeToo? A school shooting storyline so close to Parkland, released on the same day as Santa Fe? Teen suicide when our rates are higher than ever?

Like I said: These are all issues that need to be discussed, but by professionals. Not producers whose goal is to entertain and get ratings, and who just keep getting it horribly wrong.

Where to get help:

Victim Support: 0800 842 846
Sexual Abuse HELP Foundation: 09 623 1700
Rape Crisis Centre: 0800 88 33 00
Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
Youthline: 0800 376 633
Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155
Samaritans 0800 726 666
If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.