While Netflix series 13 Reasons Why was an instant hit with audiences, it was also at the center of much controversy when it was accused of glamorizing suicide, and failing to correctly handle intense subjects such as rape, depression and bullying. The show prompted New Zealand to created a brand new rating, an Australian program to develop material for schools to deal with the issues shown in the show, and an elementary school in Canada even banned the series from discussion on school grounds.
Since the show was released, many of the crew involved in the series have spoken out on how the show has been received by the public But now, for the first time the star of the series, Katherine Langford, has responded to the controversy during her appearance on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon.
Rather than deny that the show was controversial, Langford embraced the controversial aspects of the show, telling Fallon that it was important in order to start a discussion. She said:
"Of course there's controversy. I think things like these instigate discussion, which is the important part. And I think we cover so many important issues in the show that are going to affect people differently depending on their own personal context."
This echoes what many others, including writer Nic Sheff, thought about the inclusion of some of the show's more controversial scenes. Langford went on to add that as someone in the show's target demographic, she was happy with how the series covered and showed many relevant issues:
"And I'm like, everyone's feelings are valid, so I'm not going to tell anyone to feel anything differently, but personally being directly involved in the show and seeing the thought and consideration that went into it... Also being a young adult, playing a young adult and covering issues that are relevant, I feel really proud of the way we covered it and the way we showed things."
But not only is Langford happy with how the show told Hannah Baker's story, she's now also taking prompts from the show and is playing an active role in the real world to help teens in need get help if they need it:
"But then what they also did is, I feel like they've taken responsibility in the aftercare. So we have a 30-minute 'Beyond the Reasons', which plays straight after 13, there are trigger warnings on [episodes] nine, 12 and 13. And for me personally, I kind of take that upon myself. My Instagram following has just grown exponentially, and I pretty much put the links to 13reasonswhy.info and the organization itsonus.org – I put their links in my bio. Because I figure if one in 10 girls watch that out of five million, you're going to hopefully help a lot of people."
It's great to see that although she was acting in the role of Hannah, Katherine Langford is certainly aware of the big impact the series is having on its young fans and is showing ways for her fans to get support if needed.
Watch Katherine Langford's entire interview with Jimmy Fallon below to hear all this and more — as well as her natural Australian accent:
13 Reasons Why Season 1 is available to stream on Netflix now.