The second season of Netflix’s popular but controversial series “13 Reasons Why,” based on the book of the same name, premiered on the streaming service last week.
If critic reviews are any indication, there are plenty of reasons why this sophomore season is even more problematic than the first.
Season 2 currently has 28% on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, as of Tuesday morning. The first season garnered controversy for its depiction of mental illness and other issues, including a graphic scene in which a female student kills herself. Despite this, it still managed to achieve a much higher 80% critics score on RT.
Last year, Netflix addressed complaints about “13 Reasons Why” with a message at the beginning of the series asking viewers to reach out to a suicide prevention network if they are affected by the content. There is also a new video message that plays at the beginning of the series that warns some viewers it “may not be right” for them if they struggle with any of the issues the series is about.
So, what happened with season 2, and why does it have such a low Rotten Tomatoes score compared to the first season? The second season also depicts troubling issues, but critics say it doesn’t pull enough from the source material and loses the narrative structure of the first season, which some say has been problematic.
“The show has sacrificed the momentum associated with season one’s structure,” wrote CNN’s Brian Lowry.
Furthermore, the actual content of “13 Reasons Why” is still unsettling for many. A media watchdog group has requested that Netflix pull the series because of its content. And experts told Business Insider that season 2 fails to address a dangerous problem, in that Hannah – the character who took her own life in season 1 – is still a prominent character in the second season.
“There was a kind of romanticization, and at the core of the story was this idea that you can kill yourself and be dead and yet not really be dead,” Don Mordecai, Kaiser Permanente’s national leader for mental health, said. “Because, of course, [Baker] continues to be a character – she’s in scenes, and she’s still there in many ways.”
In general, Season 2 seems to create more controversy for itself but fails to deliver an equally engaging storyline, which critics liked about the first season.
Read more critic reactions to “13 Reasons Why” season 2 below:
“It’s one thing to offer new perspectives on a complicated narrative. It’s a whole other thing to add layers that drain the emotional logic out of what we saw before.”
Jen Chaney, Vulture
“As drama this is pointless, cumbersome, baggy, badly written, ponderous and boring. That’s less than half of the 13 reasons why you shouldn’t bother.”
Sam Wollaston, The Guardian
“13 Reasons Why’s second season doesn’t seem to realise where the show’s strengths actually lie. The season doubles down on drama, intrigue, and violence, to the point where it starts to feel like a po-faced version of Riverdale.”
Caroline Siede, AV Club
“The new season tries to make a point about rape culture, slut shaming and sexual harassment, but its depiction of these complex topics has all the subtlety of a sledge hammer.”
Kelly Lawler, USA Today
“Like Asher’s book, the first Netflix season of 13 Reasons Why has a conclusive ending; the little that is left unresolved isn’t enough to require a second season.”
Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter
“13 Reasons had to build a brand new series this season without the simple, and ingenious, architecture that went into building the first. (Those thirteen tapes, remember?) The result may be watchable, but also padded, talky, intricate and unnecessarily shocking.”
Verne Gay, Newsday
Not every review was negative: “It makes you appreciate the difference between a storytelling gimmick and a legitimate structural element; by establishing a new framework for Season 2, the show proves it doesn’t need one.”
Liz Shannon Miller, Indiewire
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