Season two of the Netflix series, 13 Reasons Why has just been released. As a therapist and with much hype for this successful and controversial series centering around a teenager’s tragic suicide, I am often asked for my perspective on if and how this series should be watched by families and teens. Before exploring why teens may or may not benefit from watching this series, I think it’s important for parents to know what the second season of 13 Reasons Why is about.
What is the Second Season of 13 Reasons About?
Last season’s main character and bully victim, Hannah Baker, committed suicide in season one. This season of 13 Reasons Why reflects on the idea of loss. The loss of life, the loss of hope and the loss of humanity. Each character brings sub story lines of how they address their own wounds after Hannah’s death – whether it be about being bullied, shamed or left behind by others.
The second season of 13 Reasons Why begins with the aftermath of Hannah Baker’s suicide and how this affects the people in her life and at the school. Hannah’s parents are suing the school for being negligent in handling her bullying, which they feel led to her suicide. As a result, many of the characters are called to testify regarding their relationship with Hannah to help provide answers.
As the story further unravels, each character contemplates their lives in relation to what happened to Hannah. There are various themes displayed in this show including physical, verbal, cyber and relational bullying. The idea of consent is also addressed with having a clear understanding of what sexual assault means. There is also the continuous bullying and ridicule that leads to violence that hurts others.
The show provides a realistic viewpoint of what bullying can feel like and how it can lead a teenager into a dark place. The show does not hold back on how hard it really is to be a teenager who can endure many struggles.
The important take away from the second season is how bullying, suicide, loss and pain hurts people. The pain and hurt felt by being bullied and violated can lead to escalated violence. The show portrays realistic pain and the consequences to this.
How Should the Second Season be watched?
The second season of 13 Reasons Why can open up significant conversations about friendship, loss and hope. I encourage parents to watch this season with their children if they have questions and want answers regarding any of these areas. Whether it depicts exact reality or pieces of what issues teenagers encounter today, the show provides parents with a good opportunity to have discussions with their child on topics that may be difficult to talk about without examples from a show to start the conversation. 13 Reasons Why can lead to important discussions and closer connection and understanding of your children.
13 Reasons Why is a show that teens should watch with their parents as opposed to watching alone or with their friends. I encourage parents to sit for each episode with their children to watch and reflect back after the show concludes. This is the time when real dialogue and questions your teenager may have can be answered. This can also help you have a deeper conversation with your teenager and to learn where he or she is emotionally and socially.
Are there children who should not watch the second season?
If your children have not heard from their friends about the show and you do not feel there is a strong concern or need to open up the dialogue on issues related to bullying, sexual assault and school shootings, then perhaps this may be a show to skip. I believe as a parent, you will know if your child is mature enough to handle the strong themes being addressed by the show. I caution parents that if your child has heard about the show and has an interest in watching, you should have them watch the show with you versus with their friends. 13 Reasons Why provides an opportunity for you to watch and understand your child’s perspective, thoughts and potential worries regarding common teen issues.You may want to watch the series before watching it with your teen to prepare for potential dialogue on sensitive topics that you may not normally discuss.
The Opportunity the Second Season Provides
As a bullying expert and therapist in my community, I truly appreciate getting real about how teenagers feel. There is never any easy answer or way to parent or educate. Mistakes are a part of life and sometimes they do not get fixed or bundled up into a perfect bow. 13 Reasons Why helps demonstrate this, yet it’s not a show that wraps things up quickly and provides clear endings. It is a show that leaves you in a place of reflection and contemplation. It’s a show that reveals bits of reality.
I am grateful that there are shows such as 13 Reasons Why that show some of the issues, imperfections and hardships of teenage life. I am a strong believer that we cannot protect our children from the pain that the world sometimes will bring. We must navigate their pain and help guide them into a better place. The second season of 13 Reasons Why may help start this process.
About the Author:
Danielle Matthew is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who treats bully victims and their families and educates schools, medical professionals and the community about the bullying epidemic. With over 20 years of experience, Danielle authored Amazon Parenting Best-Seller, The Empowered Child: How to Help Your Child Cope, Communicate, and Conquer Bullying, and is the Director of The Empowerment Space Bullying Therapy Program in Los Angeles. Featured in Huffington Post and TODAY.com, Danielle has appeared on Fox, ABC and CBS Morning Shows and Mom Talk Radio.
If your child has been bullied, please click here to schedule a complimentary 30-minute phone consultation with Danielle.