Netflix's widely popular yet controversial show 13 Reasons Why has left some major unanswered questions at the end of the first season, leaving fans and the Internet buzzing with speculation. What will Mr. Porter do with Hannah's tapes? What's Tyler's plan with that cache of guns? Does Alex survive? Will Bryce pay for his crimes? Now that a second season has officially been confirmed for the teen drama, there may be other potential questions and backstories the show could explore in greater detail, specifically the show's quiet and brooding teen, Clay Jensen.
In Episode 2 "Tape 1, Side B," Clay (Dylan Minnette) sits down to breakfast with his parents at his mother's insistence to have more family time in the mornings. As Clay answers his mom's question about the "school project" he's working on, Clay notices a prescription bottle on the table behind his glass of juice. If you look closely at the bottle Clay picks up, it's a prescription for Duloxetine under his name, medication prescribed to treat depression and anxiety.
We learn quite a bit in this brief family scene: Clay tells his parents he stopped taking the medication two years ago and Clay's mom feeling concerned about his odd behavior in the last few days; so much so that she went ahead and had the prescription renewed and refilled in case he might need it. These pieces of information raises a few questions: Did Clay suffer from depression? What happened to Clay two years ago that he went on the medication?
Near the end of Episode 2, when Clay bumps into Tony (Christian Navarro) at the cafe Monet's, Tony recalls a time in 7th grade when Clay got bullied by a bunch of kids who stuck his head down the toilet. Clay is obviously no stranger to bullying himself, and it may provide some clues as to why he was on the medication two years ago. The family breakfast scene could possibly indicate that Clay may have struggled with some form of depression right before Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford) moves to Clay's small town. Whether Clay's prescribed medication at the time is a result of (or partially because of) the bullying he experienced isn't entirely clear. Though in later episodes, like Episode 3 "Tape 2, Side A," Clay admits he suffers from anxiety from time to time, which Duloxetine also treats.
According to the Mayo Clinic's website, symptoms of depression in teens may include:
- Feeling negative and worthless
- Poor performance or poor attendance at school
- Feeling misunderstood and extremely sensitive
- Using drugs or alcohol
- Eating or sleeping too much
- Loss of interest in normal activities
- Avoidance of social interaction
It's difficult to know for sure what Clay's life was like prior to the events in which #13ReasonsWhy takes place. As viewers, we only get small hints at what Clay's own personal mental state could have been like.
In the beginning of Episode 7 "Tape 4, Side A," Clay's mom expresses a desire to have her son undergo talk therapy with Dr. Ellman if Clay won't take the medication again. In a later scene, when Clay and his dad have a talk outside their house, his dad mentions their concern that their son may be having his nightmares again. What nightmares did Clay have back then that would cause his parents to worry and have Clay see a medical professional to talk about them?
In a past interview with Entertainment Weekly, actor Dylan Minnette addresses those suggestions about Clay's past with seeing a doctor and taking medication may mean for his character:
"There were some discussions, just things to have in my brain, things that Brian didn’t think were necessary to really explain yet. So there’s little things I knew. I think really overall it was just anxiety and insecurity — his parents put him in with a doctor whether he liked it or not. But he was on medication for that, as we found out, but I don’t think it was anything much more than that, at least that I know of. If there are more seasons I don’t know if that will ever be explained, but I think that’s it."
While it is possible the prescription medication is, as Minnette believes, to treat Clay's anxiety and nothing more, there seems to be more that can be answered and discovered about Clay's past and his mental health. Whether the writers of the show will go deeper into Clay's backstory in the second season is to be determined.
Do you think Clay treated more than just his anxiety in the past?