What 13 Reasons Why Should Have Focused On Instead
Because 13 Reasons Why season 2 spent so long taking a retrospective look at what we'd already covered, Tyler, Jessica, and Justin's stories were not given the adequate time and attention they deserved. Justin's descent into heroin addiction as a result of parental neglect needed more exploration. Brandon Flynn plays the role perfectly, but it's hard to care for Justin's plight as much as we should, because there's not enough depth given to his backstory. Hopefully, with Hannah and the Baker's now surely out of the picture for season 3, we'll get to pick up with him as he becomes part of the Jensen family.
For Jessica, finding the courage to speak out against Bryce Walker and seeing him finally convicted of rape was a monumental moment. The fact that Bryce only got a 3-month probation order while Justin was heading to juvie because his mom wouldn't claim him was reflective of our society which so often favors the powerful white man from a privileged upbringing. Still, Jessica felt stronger and able to start rebuilding her life, which was surely a good thing. She went to the spring dance with Alex, and they shared a kiss....but then suddenly she's hooking up with Justin? Again, it felt rushed, and it didn't need to be.
Once Crucial Storyline Wasn't Given Enough Time
Finally, 13 Reasons Why never needed to return to Hannah Baker's storyline because they had Tyler's story to tell. At the end of season one, he was heading into school with guns in his backpack. That moment was simply never revisited. Instead, Tyler was first on the witness stand in season 2, and we ended up empathizing with the lonely outcast who was relentlessly bullied by Montgomery- a fellow student who was enduring an abusive home. Tyler's story built gradually, but far too slowly, and we learned very little about Montgomery. As a result, when Montgomery assaults Tyler, we are horrified, but there's not really any time for us to know much about it- from either side- because it's the 13 Reasons Why season finale and it needs to end in a big way - with Tyler looking certain to carry out a school shooting before being talked out of it by Clay. As Tyler makes his escape, aided by Tony, Clay is left holding a semi-automatic weapon, with Jessica and Justin by his side.
It's the mother of all cliffhangers, setting up the inevitable season 3, but given the current climate; given that the day of 13 Reasons Why's release another school shooting took place.... would it not have been more sensible, more engaging and more powerful to have concentrated the whole season on how and why Tyler came to take such awful actions, and for us to have seen what happens next? It could have encouraged more discourse on gun control and prompted an important discussion on bullying and abuse. Instead, we wasted so much time revisiting a story that had already been told, and hearing from a character that was already done, that 13 Reasons Why's most powerful storyline was relegated to the sidelines.
13 Reasons Why season 2 is streaming now on Netflix.