The moment the second season of Thirteen Reasons Why was confirmed, the news spread like wildfire and aroused a fresh new wave of emotions all around. This is assuming that you’ve already watched the series, which isn’t very hard to believe considering everyone either already has, is about to or at least wants to jump on the Thirteen Reasons Why wagon. While I was on it and off it within five days of its release on March 31, a part of me fought hard to resist re-watching the entire thing again and fine-comb through every single detail that didn’t sit right with me. But with another season definitely popping up next year and the writers’ room already rumoured to be abuzz with plans for the script, there’s simply no way of getting around the hype except to go through it.
Despite the trigger warnings punctuating the show, most viewers weren’t ready for the mental impact it would have on their minds. I have had friends claim that watching Thirteen Reasons Why made them depressed from helplessness after. Others say that they could feel the thickening plot affecting their mood as it dug up and brought to light the meanness that pervaded our teenage years. More than a few mentioned having to take the mental equivalent of a walk in the park in broad daylight to shake the darkness off and feel normal again after. Fortunately for me, I had read the book a few years back and while I found it rather juvenile, it set my expectations for the show.
But that’s not to say I don’t have as many frustrations as the next guy.
First things first. Let’s just get this out of the way. Hannah Baker is kind of annoying. Understandably, it’s not politically correct to say this out loud…which is why most of the time it’s muttered soto voce or mostly expressed with a subtle roll of the eyes. But personally, I was irritated with her inability to take matters into her own hands. There were many things that could have been done to limit the damage that took place, of which none had to escalate that far. Dilemmas that could have easily been averted include: Waiting for Marcus and allowing him to put her on hold without so much as a proper excuse or heartfelt apology, and going to Bryce’s party and getting into the hot tub with Justin Foley, Jessica Davis and Zach Dempsey, no less. I mean, why not throw in some friendly piranhas and baby sharks in there while you’re at it? Might add to the thrill if you’re Hannah Baker.
While victim shaming is not okay on so many levels, let’s not forget that there is also such a thing as plain stupidity.
Speaking of Justin Foley, sure, he’s a rough one and yes, he was definitely a coward in not being truthful to Jessica. But to be completely honest, I empathize with him. Coming from an unstable, unloving home and having Bryce be the ultimate “bro” and providing him with everything he needed would make anyone feel indebted. It would almost be like biting the hand that fed him and as part of the audience, I understood the loyalty that Justin felt obliged to offer back to Bryce. With barely anything else to offer but his friendship, loyalty and devotion, it was frustrating to watch but at the same time understandable.
I feel like this is the most controversial thing to say but, honestly, Bryce was a confusing antagonist for me. I knew he was someone I was supposed to hate from the get-go but I didn’t. Of course there’s really no shying away from the fact that he’s a rapist and a scummy brute. The rape scene which ended it all made me and probably every other female viewer in the world squirm in our seats uncomfortably and fold our legs just a little bit closer together. But other than profound disgust and repugnance, I still found it difficult to completely lay into Bryce, if only because his lack of moral compass is so deeply ingrained into him that it almost feels like all is lost on this character. It’s like having a robot commit a robbery and wondering if it’s completely to be blamed knowing that it’s empty on the inside and runs on batteries. There’s no denying that he’s a low, low being but I can’t bring myself to completely fully condemn him, this idiot who thinks the world is his and acts like he doesn’t know any better.
There are other questions that beg for an answer, such as, why is everybody so mean to Tyler? Was the casting for Courtney intentionally off or was it just a desperate attempt at racial diversity? Why didn’t Hannah at least leave a note for her parents? Is speeding a car with three other people in it other than Clay really effective as a threat? I wonder if people realize that Marcus is just as bad, if not worse than Bryce?
However, the one question that I can truly say is unanimously on everyone else’s mind is, is Tony hot or not? It’s safe to say that from the consistent confusion that takes over anyone’s face whenever Tony is mentioned, no one can decide if they’re attracted to Tony or not. He’s definitely not ugly, he’s not too creepy, he’s kind of cute, he’s nice and supportive while being super mysterious and yet, something holds girls back from completely gushing over him as they would for dreamy Jeff or handsome-boy Zach Dempsey.
Let us know if the comments if you have the answer or even a theory to any of the questions mentioned!