Last year, 13 Reasons Why became one of the most popular Netflix series, but the teen drama was also quickly mired in controversy. The first season centered on a number of sensitive issues such as suicide and rape, and given the young demographic that the series appealed to, some detractors worried that the presentation of these topics could have done more harm than good. Ahead of its second season, a video of the 13 Reasons Why cast is sending an important warning to fans of the series, cautioning them about the potentially triggering themes in the show and offering resources for anyone struggling with issues that the show presents.
The new video message starring cast members Dylan Minnette, Katherine Langford, Alisha Boe, and Justin Prentice will play before the new season begins on Netflix. In it, the stars come out of character and address viewers about the intense themes that the series deals with, including suicide, sexual assault, and substance abuse. The video warns anyone struggling with these issues that they may not want to watch the show:
If you are struggling with these issues yourself, this series may not be right for you, or you may want to watch it with a trusted adult.
The video ends with the cast encouraging viewers to seek help if they are struggling with something, providing information on crisis services and the show's resource website 13ReasonsWhy.info. Check out the full video below:
The outreach video and the resource website are both part of Netflix and 13 Reasons Why's effort to address parental concerns over the upcoming second season of 13 Reasons Why. On Wednesday, Netflix's Vice President of Original Series Brian Wright shared both of these new developments in an open letter to Netflix users. Wright revealed that Netflix commissioned a study from Northwestern University’s Center on Media and Human Development to get information on how the series affected young viewers and their parents. The major takeaway from that study, according to Wright, was that Netflix should provide more resources to parents on the topics that 13 Reasons Why addresses.
In addition to the resource website and the cast outreach video that will play at the star of Season 2, Netflix is also adding a new 13 Reasons Why after-show for this season, which will feature actors, experts, and educators that will help explain the show's approach to sensitive subjects.
This new, concerted effort from Netflix comes after the first season of 13 Reasons Why received heated backlash. Season 1 centered on a teen suicide, which some viewers accused the series of glamorizing. The first season also featured explicit scenes of sexual assault and self-harm. Netflix responded to the backlash with a statement given to Variety on May 1, 2017, stating,
There has been a tremendous amount of discussion about our series 13 Reasons Why. While many of our members find the show to be a valuable driver for starting important conversation with their families, we have also heard concern from those who feel the series should carry additional advisories. Currently the episodes that carry graphic content are identified as such and the series overall carries a TV-MA rating. Moving forward, we will add an additional viewer warning card before the first episode as an extra precaution for those about to start the series and have also strengthened the messaging and resource language in the existing cards for episodes that contain graphic subject matter, including the URL 13ReasonsWhy.info — a global resource center that provides information about professional organizations that support help around the serious matters addressed in the show.
Following the backlash, a study found that Internet searches related to suicidal ideation significantly increased in the weeks following 13 Reasons Why's release. Netflix's official response to the backlash has always been that the show serves as a meaningful conversation-starter that allows viewers to open up about the tough topics that the show tackles, thereby increasing awareness. The streaming service also added a warning card to the beginning of the series in response to the backlash a couple of months after Season 1 debuted.
Although the new season of 13 Reasons Why wrapped filming a little over three months ago, there is still no official word on when fans can expect Season 2 to premiere. However, it definitely sounds like Netflix is going into Season 2 with a lot of care and consideration following the critical response to the show's presentation of suicide last year.
If you or someone you know are experiencing suicidal thoughts, call 911, or call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.