Netflix CEO defends '13 Reasons Why' renewal after critics slam 'pointless' season 2

NetflixHannah’s version of events might not have been entirely accurate.
  • “13 Reasons Why” was recently renewed for a third season on Netflix.
  • The show’s first season sparked controversy for its graphic depiction of a teenager’s suicide, and its second season continued to draw criticism for its handling of serious issues.
  • Netflix CEO Reed Hastings defended the decision to renew the show during Netflix’s annual shareholder’s meeting: “Nobody has to watch it.”

Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why” continued to face backlash in its second season, but that didn’t stop the company from renewing the controversial show for a third. At Netflix’s annual shareholder meeting, CEO Reed Hastings defended the decision.

“’13 Reasons Why’ has been enormously popular and successful,” Hastings said. “It’s engaging content. It is controversial. But nobody has to watch it.”

“13 Reasons Why” drew criticism in its first season for its graphic depiction of a teenager’s suicide. That character, Hannah Baker, is still a prominent character in the show’s second season through flashbacks, which sparked further criticism.

“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, told Business Insider.

Season two was also critically panned, scoring a 27% score on Rotten Tomatoes compared to the first season’s 80%. Critics found the second season to be “pointless” and “boring,” and said the flashbacks with Hannah ruin the emotional stakes of the first season.

The second season also made headlines when its Los Angeles premiere party was canceled following the Sante Fe school shooting. The season features a storyline in which a student plans to shoot up a school.

Parent and mental health organisations have also condemned the show. The Parents Television Council called on Netflix to pull the series this year because of potentially harmful content. Some mental health groups also find the show problematic: Australia’s National Youth Mental Health Foundation received numerous calls and emails when the series debuted and Suicide Awareness Voices of Education was concerned the series would actually cause more suicides because people would “overidentify” with Hannah.

Netflix took steps to address concerns, including a message at the beginning of the series urging people to reach out to a suicide prevention agency if the content affected them.

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