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The streamer is near a deal for a second season of the controversial drama about teen suicide, The Hollywood Reporter has learned. Sources tell THR that a writers room for the sophomore run has been up and running for a few weeks. Netflix declined comment.
Created by Brian Yorkey and based on the YA novel by Jay Asher, the drama revolves around Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford), who explains her decision to commit suicide in a series of cassette tapes offering an explanation about why she opted to end her life. In addition to exploring teen suicide, the series also puts a spotlight on bullying and sexual assault.
The series — originally intended as a starring vehicle for exec producer Selena Gomez — has been the subject of debate from TV critics and suicide prevention groups alike for its graphic portrayal of Hannah’s suicide. The drama — which includes multiple warnings ahead of particularly graphic episodes — shows Hannah’s suicide in great detail.
Produced by Paramount Television, the series has become a watercooler breakout for the streaming service — with social media lighting up the show with debate about if the show goes too far and if it fails to provide an option to suicide.
For his part, writer Nic Sheff defended 13 Reasons Why’s decision to feature such sensitive content.
“It overwhelmingly seems to me that the most irresponsible thing we could’ve done would have been not to show the death at all,” he wrote in a recent guest column.
Weeks after the show’s release on Netflix, mental health advocacy groups like Australia’s Headspace criticized the series for what they believe “exposes viewers to risky suicide content.”
“National and international research clearly indicates the very real impact and risk to harmful suicide exposure leading to increased risk and possible suicide contagion,” said Headspace national manager Kristen Douglas this week. “People have said the show has triggered their own vulnerabilities and made them consider whether suicide is a possible option for them.”
The episode in which Hannah’s suicide is depicted warns viewers about content that “may not be suitable for younger audiences, including graphic depictions of violence and suicide.”
For his part, creator Yorkey told The Hollywood Reporter that the graphic suicide scene was something the show’s creative team contemplated. “We wanted to confront the fact that suicide is messy, ugly and it’s incredibly painful,” he said. “There’s nothing peaceful or beautiful about it at all. It’s horrific to endure and it’s horrific for the people that a person who commits suicide leaves behind. We wanted to tell that story truthfully. And as difficult as it is to watch, it should be difficult to watch. If we make it easy to watch, then we’re selling goods that we didn’t want to sell.”
Ultimately, Yorkey hopes 13 Reasons Why “sparks a conversation” with teenagers and adults about things that are happening to youth today around the world.
“What we hope, as good television can do, is that it gets people talking. If they can talk about what happened to Hannah and Jessica [who were raped] and what these kids went through, they can talk about what they’re going through in their own lives. That has to happen first before anything can get better.”
The series concludes with a special 30-minute PSA called Beyond the Reasons, which features producers including Gomez as well as the cast, doctors, advocates and psychologists offering insight on how to get help or assist someone in need.
Dylan Minnette co-stars.
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