Content warning: This article deals with the topics of suicide and sexual assault and may be triggering for some readers.
The first season of 13 Reasons Why quietly dropped on Netflix midway through last year.
For weeks, the TV show that depicted the violent suicide of a teenage girl dominated online conversations.
It sparked hundreds of think pieces and a whole lot of discussion about youth mental health and suicide.
Some believed the show should never have aired, while others thought it shone a light on a topic we don’t discuss often enough.
When a second season of the Netflix original series was announced later in the year, people were skeptical, worried, some were even furious.
But now season two has dropped and it feels different.
It’s almost like an after school special twist on the gritty, raw drama that made season one so controversial.
This season 13 Reasons Why is tackling as equally important topics, but somehow with more drama and less shock value.
And under all its dramatic teenage story lines, it’s hit a nerve and forced an almost hidden subject matter into the spotlight.
Season two starts about six months after the events of season one, in which the tapes Hannah made before her death were distributed to the students who were featured on them.
Hannah’s mum, Olivia (Kate Walsh), takes the school to court over their role in Hannah’s death.
This means most of the key players from season one are forced to testify in court. Their testimony provides a narrative for the season, just like Hannah’s tapes did for season one.
Running parallel to this story line is another centered around whether Bryce will finally be brought to justice for sexually assaulting at least two of his fellow classmates.
In fact, in the end, this is the storyline that really resonates with the audience.
To delve into both these plot lines, the series revisits a lot of the material from season one.
It rehashes the bullying, sexual assault, and harassment that Hannah endured, as mentioned in her tapes. It also introduces a bunch other plot points to add credence to the idea that Liberty High is a dangerous place for its students.
We find out more about what the other students were experiencing during this time and what they have gone through since Hannah’s death.
We also discover there’s a lot more going on below the surface than what we were originally led to believe.
One of the most anticipated parts of season two was always going to be Hannah’s role in it.
In the very first episode, Hannah returns as a ghost only Clay can see. She guides Clay through his grief and his investigation into the school’s underground culture of sexual assault and harassment.
It’s only when the season comes to some sort of resolution that Hannah finally disappears and “moves on”.
Obviously, this plot line is problematic and the creators of the show say they worked with leading mental health agencies around the world to minimise the risk to young people who watch it.