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Spoilers ahead for Season 2 of 13 Reasons Why.
While Netflix produces a ton of boundary-pushing content, there are few shows that have gotten quite as much backlash as 13 Reasons Why. The dark high school drama got plenty of flack when it premieres its first season, especially in regards to its subject matter. Some critics believed that the show glamorized teen suicide, while its brutal depiction of the action itself is almost impossible to get through. Season 2 has finally arrived on the streaming service, and will no doubt bring its own set of controversies. But 13 Reasons Why does something important in its sophomore run: it makes the characters likable.
Because of the format of 13 Reasons Why's first season, almost all of the starring cast was portrayed as villains. We watched as students at Liberty High victimized Hannah Baker in the past, and as they attempted to intimidate Clay into keeping his mouth shut about the tapes in the present. While the show is known for its melodrama, there were only a handful of characters that audiences were actually rooting for.
Season 2 helps to change this, with a bunch of the kids from the tapes taking full responsibility for their actions. With Hannah's Mother going full tilt with her lawsuit against the school, the kids are being brought up to testify. And after learning from the tapes and wanting to distance themselves from Bryce, many of them do the right thing and tell the truth. Just like that we care about the likes of Courtney Crimson.
Courtney is just one of the characters who gets a redemption in 13 Reasons Why's second season. In addition to having many of the kids show remorse and make right, they're also given adequate attention and love by their parents. Because the lines of communication are finally open, we see as the various parents make an effort with their kid. Courtney comes out to her fathers, Alex's hardass Dad shows sensitivity, and bullied photographer Tyler's father also continues to make an effort. While the show is still full of twist and turns (some stronger than others), there's finally a connection to the starring cast.
This isn't to say that 13 Reasons Why isn't still problematic. The macguffin of a school shooting is both predictable and a bit insensitive-- especially considering the group responsible are the goth kids at Liberty High. But the show has always been a bit of a double edged sword. While some new vocabulary is introduced and strong messages are sent, there are also cheap uses of melodrama. It's what 13 Reasons Why is, and the show is likely not going to slow down anytime soon.