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Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why Will Be Exploring A Sexual Assault Conspiracy This Year

Regardless if you were for or against 13 Reasons Why, the popular Netflix show is back for a second season. Having expended most of the book’s source material and its original premise, many wondered what exactly a second season would tackle as its major storyline. In an unsurprising move, the show has decided to explore sexual assault with a serial offender this year.

Showrunner Brian Yorkey, according to The Hollywood Reporter, says that unlike the previous season, it will take on this heavy topic without the graphic depiction that got so much criticism in its previous season—which revolved around and controversially showed a teenage suicide. However, Yorkey felt like this was a story that needed to be told since the threads of that storyline were already in existence during season one when main characters Hannah and Jessica were sexually assaulted.

Season two is said to explore Jessica coming to terms with being a victim of sexual assault, Tyler’s isolation and journey into firearm extremism, and Clay coming to terms with the reality Hannah’s suicide.

Yorkey says that these plot elements were well-established to be part of season two before the #MeToo movement took off.

“I once read something online where someone said, ‘Well, Jessica told her dad she was raped so her story is over.’ I remember thinking that right there is reason enough to do a season two, because her story is just beginning—her experience continues to be a central part of season two,” Yorkey said during a panel.

Yorkey went on to explain: “To leave them there would be unfair to the characters and to the viewers that had come to care about them. In season two, we explore how these characters deal with the aftermath of what happened to Hannah. [Guidance counselor] Mr. Porter [played by Derek Luke] will be coming to terms with the way that he let Hannah down and will be determined not to let any kids down in the future. His story is one of the most compelling to me. We’ll see a man who is determined to reach every kid who needs to be reached and help every kid who needs to be helped, whatever it takes. I think he will probably go out of bounds a bit, in the other direction, trying to be helpful in the best way that he knows.”

Through the character of Jessica and her recovery, Yorkey is looking to examine the psychological journey of “go[ing] from being a victim of sexual assault to being a survivor of sex assault.”

13 Reasons Why will also show the athletic team at the high school as being at the center of these sexual assaults, and the story contains a “sickening secret” and “conspiracy” that will be exposed during the trial between Hannah’s parents and the school district.

“We look at the ways that sexual assault has been perpetrated over a number of years and has been in fact documented, and also the ways in which the institutions — the athletic department, the high school itself — are in some ways complicit in letting that happen,” Yorkey says of the timely storyline. “When we first developed it, we had these discussions about whether it was realistic to think that serial sexual abuse could be kept secret by so many people for so long. Over the course of the summer, we watched events unfold in our culture that confirmed to us that yes, unfortunately, it is possible for severe sexual abuse at a very high, consistent level to be kept secret by many, many people and for institutions to be complicit in it. So that’s very much a part of our story in season two and we’re hoping that enters the conversation around the show, particularly because it is something that girls even at a very young age are dealing with in our culture and it’s something that needs to change.”

In his interview with The Hollywood Reporter Yorkey reaffirms that he is committed to telling the stories “that I would watch and feel passionately about when I was a teenager,” and says that for the teen audience that could be watching, it is an opportunity to touch their lives.

I have had mixed feelings about 13 Reasons Why; I felt at times it was gratuitous and while I am glad that the show will be moving away from any graphic depictions of suicide or rape, my only concern is how this “conspiracy” will be handled. The line between thoughtful teen drama and Lifetime special is a delicate one to walk.

What do you guys think? Are you “looking forward” to another season of 13 Reasons Why?

(via THR, image: Netflix)

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Princess (she/her-bisexual) is a Brooklyn born Megan Fox truther, who loves Sailor Moon, mythology, and diversity within sci-fi/fantasy. Still lives in Brooklyn with her over 500 Pokémon that she has Eevee trained into a mighty army. Team Zutara forever.