Warning: This story contains mild spoilers for 13 Reasons Why season one and season two along with themes of sexual assault.
Even after looking through all the evidence with a critical and unbiased eye, it’s safe to say there’s not a lot to love about 13 Reasons Why season two.
First of all, its very existence seems a little unnecessary.
The very material that makes up a season two in any franchise hinges on the idea that there is still a lot of story left to tell. But in this case it appears that a lot of seemingly un-loose threads have been yanked and twisted out of context in order to stretch the story line out for another go around.
There’s also the added fact that parents are once again calling for the polarising Netflix series to be banned, following another round of complaints that were first made when the TV series debuted in 2017.
The conservative American Parents’ Television Council has renewed calls for the series to be cancelled after the second season was released on Netflix last Friday and viewers became aware of the new story line.
The pro-censorship organisation urged Netflix to pull the entire series from its platform, labelling it a “ticking time bomb to teens and children” and saying that it contained “explicit language, graphic violence, and depictions of drinking and drug use inappropriate for teens.”
But for all the badness that has come out of the TV show’s second outing, there is also some good.
Good that can be found in the continuation of Jessica Davis’ story-line (played by Alisha Boe).
In season one of 13 Reasons Why, a drama that unravels the events that led to high school student Hannah Baker (played by Katherine Langford) suiciding, we come to learn that her friend Jessica was raped by a boy from their high school.
The consequences of this event from season one are now front and centre of season two, and the biggest and best takeaway from this season is an examination of that fact that Jessica does not fit the mould of a “good” rape victim.
One of the comments that can be made against a woman when she says she was raped or sexually assaulted is that she has not acted in the specific way some people expect a true assault victim to behave.
Questions can emerge along the lines of "why didn't she tell someone straight away?" and "how could she still work with/go to school with him if this had really happened?".
These are the types of unfortunate and unfair questions that we saw hurled at the many women who came forward during and since the #MeToo movement.
But in Jessica's case, we as the viewer already have the luxury of knowing for sure that she is telling the truth, and so we can watch as she walks a path different to one that a "true" rape victim would take and never once doubt her word.
At first she tells no one, and even has doubts herself about what really happened that night.
One of the most interesting scenes of the series comes in episode one of season two.
Here, we see Jessica return to school months after the events of season one and watch as she comes face-to-face with her rapist Bryce Walker (played by Justin Prentice) who is a fellow student from a rich family and captain of the football team.
In this episode, Jessica and Bryce have an interaction that someone who did not know the truth about the rape could use as evidence against Jessica and to prove Bryce's innocence.
In this scene Bryce happily seeks her out at school and tells her they have all missed her, she smiles at him and talks back, seemingly unafraid and unshaken by his presence.
All except for a slight wobble in her smile that can be detected as the conversion continues.
It is scenes like this, and many other aspects of Jessica's behaviour in season two, that highlight the need for us to remember that someone's outward behaviour has no bearing on the truthfulness of their claims.
As a court case unfolds on screen and Jessica publicly states that Bryce raped her, the behaviour she is treated to (especially by her fellow students) also highlights the fact that women do not claim to be raped for for accolades or rewards.
Instead, what follows can be anything but glamorous.
It's true that a lot of heartache has come out of 13 Reasons Why season two, but it's important to remember that some valuable lessons can be taken from it as well.
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