If you haven't gotten around to watching Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why yet, I'm sorry to tell you this, but you're more like Clay Jensen than you think. Netflix has solidified its subscribers' trust in the past with network originals like Orange Is The New Black, Daredevil and Stranger Things. So when a new series comes along like #13ReasonsWhy, it doesn't matter if you have assignments due or absolutely no interest in a teenage drama series, you watch because knowing #Netflix, the show will be good and all anyone can talk about for months.
Maybe you started watching Hannah Baker’s story because you knew you would be hearing about it on your newsfeed anyways. Maybe you wanted to support Selena Gomez as she stepped into the role of producer for the first time. No matter the reason, you realized something as you binged 13 Reasons Why: Hannah’s story matters.
Unlike Stranger Things and Daredevil, that deal with upside down dimensions and superheroes in masks, Hannah Baker’s story deals with mental health, rape, slut shaming and most importantly, suicide. 13 Reasons Why is not just a hit with viewers because it's good. This show is a hit because it's willing to take on a topic all too real for most teenagers in 2017 and not shy away when it comes to the reasons why.
However, in the final moments of the series, it seems the only resolved storyline is where Hannah's tapes ended up. Alex’s fate is left up in the air, as well as the details of the Bakers' trial. Bryce is still a free man and Justin is wandering around town with a duffle bag far too small to carry all his life problems. From the writer’s point of view, this is a brilliant way to end a one-off series. Leaving the audience feeling uncertain gets across the message that Hannah’s story is not meant to be resolved. There wasn’t meant to be a happy ending, an ending that gave viewers closure — a girl took her own life after all.
Closure was never the intention of the book either.
Jay Asher's 13 Reasons Why was written as a standalone book in 2007 and hit No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list in July 2011. While the source material is usually considered to be better than movie or film adaptations, many are claiming the Netflix series is a prime example that sometimes source material can be improved on when adapted. The TV series spends more time fleshing out the subjects of Hannah’s tapes and creating more of a grey area rather than allowing for every action to be black or white.
In doing so, 13 Reasons Why has expanded far beyond the book’s singular plot and has begun to focus on the aftermath of the tapes just as much as the aftermath of Hannah’s death, opening up a can of worms that goes far beyond the issue of suicide.
Hannah Baker’s tale wasn’t the only storyline in the final moments of the finale. As the arc of Hannah's tapes came to a close, the final episodes reflect on the 13 reasons why she did what she did one last time. We witnessed Jessica break down as she told her father that Bryce raped her. We saw Clay reconnect with Skye and if you looked closely enough, you might have seen the focus point of what could be a second season in the works.
Taking Aim At Season 2
There was a recurring theme among Tyler, Justin and Alex’s final scenes, one America is far too familiar with in recent years. The audience saw Tyler, Hannah’s resident stalker, buy a gun earlier in the penultimate episode, hinting that he might be the victim shot at the end of Episode 12. However, it is later revealed that Tyler has acquired multiple guns, as he is seen sorting through the assortment of weapons and several boxes of ammo in a hidden compartment of his clothing chest.
For anyone watching, chills must have immediately run down your arm at the realization of what Tyler was going to do with those guns. Tyler is revisited again closer to the end of the episode, where he can be seen looking over the 11 subjects of the other tapes, whose photos are strung up in the school’s darkroom. Tyler removes Alex’s photo from the group, foreshadowing the fact that Alex was the victim of a self-inflicted gunshot to the head.
However, a recent theory suggests Tyler actually shot Alex and removed his photo after crossing Alex of his list of targets. If true, it would seem that Tyler is foreshadowing his own plans to exact revenge on the classmates that used Hannah’s tapes to exile and torment him throughout the series.
Continuing with the pattern, Justin does little to ease viewers' concerns on the subject of guns. After an altercation with his mother’s abusive boyfriend where Justin is nearly strangled by the man, he rushes into the kitchen and retrieves a wad of cash and a fully-loaded gun from a cooking pot. Justin never confronts the boyfriend, but he takes the gun with him as he flees from his home. Surely this a detail that could come into play later in the series. When a gun is introduced into a television show it rarely just disappears without someone getting hurt.
Finally, there's Alex. His fate was left up in the air after he attempted to commit suicide. In a passing conversation between the principal and guidance counselor, it was mentioned he was in critical condition after attempting to shoot himself in the head. The ending to his story is meant to reflect the fact that everyone was so committed to seeing the warning signs of suicide and yet they were oblivious to the signs Alex was showing. This is, of course, going off the show’s canon and not fan theories that Alex was shot by Tyler.
Despite the circumstances of the incident being kept from the audience, it is not too hard to figure out how Alex was able to attempt suicide in this way. 13 Reasons Why shows that the signs are always there, you just have to look for them.
If you watched close enough during Justin’s second tape, you might have noticed a certain scene that stood out as odd. It was odd considering that the interaction had nothing to do with Jessica being raped or Hannah’s tapes. After Jessica and Bryce bond over getting high, Jessica takes him into her father’s office. She shows Bryce her father’s collection of guns before promptly picking one up and aiming it at him. Bryce freaks out, worried the gun will go off. Jessica assures him she knows what she's doing and that the gun is not loaded, before opening the chamber to find the weapon is, in fact, loaded. They continue to play with the collection of guns as Jessica shows Bryce how to work the safety and aim at a target.
Alex’s father is not in the military, but he is a cop. It’s not a far stretch to say Alex acquired the gun from his father’s office. This detail once again stresses the ease the characters have when it comes to acquiring guns.
Guns Are An Underlying Detail In 13 Reasons Why
It is fair to say that gun violence could be the next topic at the center of the Netflix series. Guns have been an underlying detail throughout the first season, much like Jessica's substance abuse, Alex’s father’s abuse of power and Bryce’s privilege as a promising athlete. They are all factors that contribute to the underlining issue of suicide.
Suicide is a tough subject to discuss and gun violence is no different. Falling within the political spectrum, it's an issue many refuse to acknowledge. Most Americans believe the issue is not having too many guns lying around, but not enough. However, the statistics don't lie. According to data from the CDC, on average, 93 Americans are killed with guns every day. There are nearly 12,000 gun homicides a year in America and a grand total of 169,395 firearm deaths between 2001 and 2015 (two thirds of which were suicides).
Now that 13 Reasons Why has been picked up for a second season, the producers have to figure out what kind of show they are making. This is no longer a book adaptation about Hannah Baker. By expanding on the lives of other students, the show has taken on important topics beyond suicide. Therefore, gun violence may not be the only issue touched on in Season 2, but it should be one of the biggest.
Guns will be included in the storyline next season, whether we like it or not. Maybe Alex attempted to commit suicide or maybe Tyler shot him. Maybe Justin shoots his mother’s boyfriend in another confrontation down the road. Or, maybe Jessica takes matters into her own hands with Bryce.
Guns became a clear part of Season 2 the moment the writers made the decision to push Tyler in that direction. If they head into this season with no acknowledgment that America struggles with firearm abuse, then they are essential using the Netflix show’s platform to do the very opposite of what they set out to do: shed light on unpopular but important topics.
13 Reasons Why will always be that show about suicide. No matter how many seasons Netflix green-lights, Hannah Baker's story will always be an important aspect of the show. Suicide is still the issue at the heart of the Netflix drama, but there are reasons that lead to someone taking their life — reasons this show has a chance to take aim at.
As for what else we can expect in Season 2, yesterday Netflix released what looks to be a list someone wrote on their phone detailing what they know following the renewal:
So, what would you like to see 13 Reasons Why tackle in Season 2? Let me know in the comments.