The One Reason ’13 Reasons Why’ Should Have Ended After the First Season

The premiere of Season 3 of 13 Reasons Why was met with ire from many. While the controversial show is no stranger to debate and outrage, the themes explored in Season 3 have been especially troubling. It has since been announced that the show will end after Season 4, expected to release on Netflix sometime next year. With a firm end date now in sight, many are now questioning whether the show’s second and third season was really necessary.

What is 13 Reasons Why based on?

Season 1 of the series is based on Jay Asher’s 2007 novel by the same name. The book explores the problems that Hannah Baker, the lead character in Season 1, faced before deciding to take her own life. Through a series of recordings, Baker explains everything that happened to her leading up to her death, and why the problems seem entirely insurmountable.

The book ends with Clay attempting to help another classmate he believes is suicidal. The additional fallout that is depicted in the show’s second and third season does not appear in the book. The novel was a standalone offering from the author, and no future titles have been planned. Asher, however, has been accused of sexual harassment in recent years.

Why is Season 3 of the show so controversial?

13 Reasons Why dropped its third season on Aug. 23. For those who are into binge-watching, you know what happened. Principally, the third season focuses almost entirely on Bryce’s murder and finding the party responsible. It also touches on the school shooting storyline in Season 2, attempting to deal with the fallout of Tyler’s actions.

While Season 3 surely meant to explore the way young adults and teenagers view authority, and, more importantly, the criminal justice system, the actions of those involved are troubling. According to Vanity Fair, the result is something that walks the line between morally ambiguous and downright criminal.

The publication admits that the series may be attempting to show how several broken systems have caused people to deal with their troubles in unconventional ways. Regardless, there is a danger to depicting unorthodox problem-solving to vulnerable groups, like teenagers, which is the show’s target demographic.

The number one reason 13 Reasons Why should have ended after Season 1

Jay Asher’s 2007 book, 13 Reasons Why, served as the source material for the series’ very first season. In Season 1, Hannah Baker’s suicide is explored in gruesome detail through 13 cassette tapes secretly distributed to the people who impacted Baker’s decision to take her own life.

13 Reason Why
’13 Reasons Why’ logo| Photo Illustration by Guillaume Payen/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

When Season 1 ended, however, the source material went with it. For many who have watched the show, it’s clear that Season 1 is self-contained. All that followed in Season 2 and now in Season 3, only have a fringe connection to Baker’s suicide. Sure, it’s obvious that Baker’s death impacted the events moving forward, but Season 2 and Season 3 left viewers feeling like the writers were grasping at straws.

The desperate attempt to piggyback off the premiere season’s success feels hollow, and, in many ways, has turned the show into a melodramatic soap opera. While the topics explored are heavy, timely, and worthy of exploration, how it is done is far too overblown to get the proper message across.