Netflix has opted to explain its decision to renew the ever-controversial drama 13 Reasons Why for season 3. Whereas season 1 garnered controversy over the extremely graphic suicide scene of Hannah Baker, season 2 attracted even more intense backlash from parents, who denounced the show’s depictions of suicide and sexual violence. Many thought the story had to end with season 2. But according to Netflix, the streaming giant has its reasons for continuing the 13 Reasons Why story.
Season 1 of 13 Reasons Why was based on the novel by Jay Asher, and was actually first meant to be a feature length film before Netflix decided to take on the story in its television format. The show worked to tackle large and difficult topics such as suicide, rape, and self-harm as Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette) investigates the suicide of Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford) by listening to the 13 audiotapes she left behind. Season 2 worked hard to show what the characters of 13 Reasons Why might be going through following the events of season 1, including storylines where Hannah’s parents tried to sue the school for not protecting their daughter from bullies, and a mystery surrounding Polaroid photos connected to bullying and sexual assault. But it was a mediocre second season by most accounts, and a majority thought 13 Reasons Why would be wise to conclude there.
However, Netflix says the story must go on. According to Deadline, during the Television Critics Association press tour in California, Netflix VP of Original Series Cindy Holland spoke on the decision to renew 13 Reasons Why. “Look, it’s a controversial show from the beginning,” she said, going on to explain that “the biggest consideration [for season 3] was, is there more story to be told and what is that story?” Netflix and series showrunner Brian Yorkey agreed that there were more possible topics for season 3 to cover, most importantly of all being closure for all of the main characters. According to Holland, the decision to renew was simple.
Netflix’s feelings on the continuation of 13 Reasons Why aside, the streaming giant must recognize that it's taking a large risk by going forward with a third season. This is due in part to the show losing one of the its most compelling performers. Some have named the decision to keep Hannah Baker in season 2 as a major mistake, but Katherine Langford’s presence onscreen still helped to tie the two seasons together. Yet, however the streaming company may feel about the strength of 13 Reasons Why’s season 3 storyline, lead actress Langford insists that Hannah's tale is over. Earlier in May, when a possibility for a season 3 renewal was up in the air, Langford said she has no plans to return as Hannah Baker, and that the character’s arc is complete.
Another reason Netflix may encounter trouble with its season 3 of 13 Reasons Why is due to the fact that the show only continues to attract more and more negative attention for its representation of tough subjects as it goes on. The season 2 finale was found to be particularly controversial by fans and critics, after it showed the brutal sexual assault of Tyler and teased the possibility of a mass school shooting. Netflix may be choosing to disregard the controversy surrounding 13 Reasons Why as they move forward with season 3, but if the company continues to push the envelope with the upcoming season, it could backfire in a major way.