Should Netflix release 13 Reasons Why Season 4?


Throughout the past three seasons, 13 Reasons Why has certainly garnered criticism for its portrayal of mental illness. Although 13 Reasons Why Season 4 is out on Friday, June 5, should Netflix just let sleeping dogs lie?

13 Reasons Why has never shied away from controversy. Since the show debuted, it has tackled several issues such as suicide, sexual assault, and school shootings to mixed results. With 13 Reasons Why Season 4 set to drop on Netflix on June 5, will you be watching?

In Season 1, we were introduced to Clay Jensen, a 17-year-old high school student who comes home from school one day to find a box of 13 tapes on his doorstep. After popping one into his parents’ old boombox, he quickly learned that the tapes were a suicide note from his classmate and crush Hannah Baker. Throughout the 13 tapes, Hannah laid out the 13 reasons she decided to take her life and sent them to the people that she believed contributed to her decision.

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The tapes quickly bonded those featured on them together as they tried to grapple with the effects that their actions had on Hannah. Amid a lawsuit between Hannah’s mother and their school Liberty High, the group that consists of Clay, Alex, Jessica, Justin, Tyler, Zach, and Tony, although he was not featured on the tapes, leaned on each other for support as they were once again forced to confront their past actions and new problems. Unfortunately, not even the trial’s conclusion allowed them to leave the past behind.

The series’s first season drew criticism from mental health experts who criticized the show’s graphic depictions of sexual assault and Hannah’s suicide. Others criticized the tapes as a narrative tool, saying that the tapes allowed Hannah to have too much power after her death.

Although following the series’s first season, Netflix added more trigger warnings to the show mental health experts such as John Ayers, an adjunct professor of behavioral science at San Diego State University, called for the show’s cancellation.

Ayers said of the show to Business Insider in 2018:

"“The makers [of ’13 Reasons Why’] must swiftly change their course of action, including removing the show and postponing a second season.”"

Of course, that didn’t happen, and with Season 3, viewers got a storyline wherein the main characters, along with yet another negligible adult, cover up the murder of Bryce Walker, the former Liberty High School football captain responsible for raping Hannah Baker and Jessica Davis.

It’s a narrative choice that I found personally very hard to deal with.13 Reasons Why was one of my favorite books when I was in high school. As a result, when the Netflix adaptation was met with criticism, I defended it ardently.

I’ve never thought of the show or the book as a revenge fantasy. I do believe that in making the tapes, Hannah wanted to reclaim her story and let those that hurt her know that their actions weren’t okay. Unfortunately, the tapes created a similar snowball effect to the one that led Hannah to her demise.

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Hannah is still responsible for her death and for the pain that she caused others as a result, but that doesn’t mean that I wasn’t able to sympathize with her story. In this day and age, where rumors can spread like wildfire thanks to smartphones, and anyone can spew hatred behind a computer screen, I agreed with the show’s message that we need to work harder to be conscious of how our actions and our words affect others. However, I felt that 13 Reasons Why Season 3 acted in direct contrast to that message.

While I absolutely despised Monty, he deserved to be charged for the things that he did do rather than something that he didn’t. The first season of 13 Reasons Why rested on the idea that rumors can destroy lives. In Season 3, however, the show seems to offer the caveat that it’s okay to spread rumors about people if they’ve done morally reprehensible things and died.

Yet, the show seems to have forgotten where its characters began.

So, where does that leave us for Season 4? Frankly, I’ve become attached to these characters. I want to see where their journeys end and believe that the show will end on a note that’s true to the show’s core message. However, to do that, the characters may once again have to answer for the things that they’ve done.

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Will you be watching 13 Reasons Why Season 4? What are your hopes for the final season? Let us know!

13 Reasons Why Season 4 will be available to stream on Netflix on Friday, June 5.