13 Reasons Why and Biased Controversy

I watched the first series of 13 Reasons Why and it struck me as being powerful, extremely well written, addressing issues I’ve experienced myself, and issues that you just wouldn’t think would be tackled so openly and forthrightly on television as they were – rape, drugging and rape, and suicide. It presented the issues in an adult and open way, not hiding them behind a veneer of teen drama, or being scared to address the very issues our teenagers are subjected to, just in case they get upset.

With the second series there’s a cry from some to cancel the show completely, just because of one key scene at the end of the series. These calls reek of double standards considering the events of the first series. In fact they seem rather demeaning, perhaps fearful and these days they feel from another time.

I’m watching the second series just now and I’m not quite as invested as I was. It hasn’t grabbed me as well. The character Clay hasn’t evolved any, despite everything he’s learned, and his bumbling, not saying anything, doing nothing when he needs to is a little grating.

I’m also struggling with the concept that Clay can now see and speak to Hannah almost all the time. It doesn’t work for me and breaks the reality of the show that came so powerfully with the first series.

While I’m at it, I’m not really getting the direction of the show now. 13 Reasons Why was thirteen audio tapes, each explaining another part of the story to reveal what’s happened. I thought this second series would be thirteen photographs, each revealing something new between the story we’d already been told.

That’s not happening. It feels like it’s less clever, less forthright, more like other shows before it.

However, I’m still watching and none of this has upset me as much as the furore that came up recently where some people have watched the entire series and hit that ending. By people, I might prefer to say media people.

Now I’m doing a spoiler warning for you. Those that were so incensed by the ending of series two didn’t think about that for me, however I’m warning you now. If you haven’t watched the second series it might be good to look away, watch it, and return.

In the second series the thing that has people so upset is that there’s a rape of a male.

Now I haven’t seen it yet but I do know what happened and what was portrayed so powerfully in the first series. A girl was drugged and then raped, another girl was raped, and a girl committed suicide. All were very real and shown on camera.

I didn’t hear so much furore about the portrayal of those issues. In fact there was positivity for the show. I certainly had positive commentary about the portrayal, the guts of the show, and the way it addressed the issues for parents and children alike without any dumbing down or stepping back.

Now there’s a male rape on screen there are calls to cancel the show.

That strikes me as rather odd. As some seriously slipped and double standards. What’s especially surprising is that on British television just now, on free to view television no less, and a major prime-time soap, there’s a storyline of a male rape. Now granted, you don’t see it played out on screen, but the emotional after effects are all there, and there’s quite the focus on that and the lead up to the admission from the character. It’s powerful stuff. So why would a pay per view audience so scared of it when the first series featured two rape scenes of women?

I’ll watch the last episodes and see where it goes, but I can’t believe that the portrayal of a male rape deserves the cancelling of the show anymore than the stories revealed in the first series did.

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