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Netflix has quickly become a hub for challenging and exciting original content, but there are some shows that are more controversial than others. Perhaps no Netflix series gets quite as much backlash as 13 Reasons Why, based off the young adult novel of the same name. Revolving around a teenage girl's suicide and its fallout, 13 Reasons has been criticized for glamorizing suicide, while also showing imagery that is simply too harrowing for a young audience. But the show is certainly popular, and Netflix recently renewed it for a third season. This has once again caused outrage for its critics, and now Netflix's CEO Reed Hastings has spoken up about this decision.
13 Reasons Why has been enormously popular and successful. It's engaging content. It is controversial. But nobody has to watch it.
It seems that Netflix is unapologetically supporting the cast and crew of 13 Reasons Why, while also giving the myriad fans what they want: more episodes. The drama at Liberty High was greatly expanded in the show's second season, and there were obvious seeds planted for a third season.
Reed Hastings' comments from the Netflix shareholder meeting (via Deadline) is far more short and sweet than the streaming service has historically defended 13 Reasons Why. Due to the sensitive nature of the show, the streaming service has put in a variety of measures to protect young audiences and provide them with after care and resources. There are content warnings, each episode ends with a number for a crisis hotline, and there is also an after show that helps unpack the season's contents and provide care for any especially emotional Netflix subscribers. But the calls for the show to be cancelled certainly haven't dulled, which is likely why Hastings has taken a stronger stand this time around.
Season 2 of 13 Reasons Why no doubt tried to make the show a bit more kind, and therefore hopefully less controversial. Parents are supportive and attentive, the starring cast have become likable and sensitive, and there is less of a focus on Hannah's actual suicide. But the Season 2 once again has people fired up for the show's cruelty. Bullied student Tyler returns to Liberty High only to be physically and sexually assaulted by his tormenters, and then attempts to get his revenge through a school shooting.
Advocacy groups criticized the show's brutal depiction of sodomy and the use of school shooting as a macguffin, especially in the wake of so many real life mass shootings. In fact, 13 Reasons Why had to cancel its Season 2 premiere event in order to be sensitive to the victims of the Santa Fe shooting.
Regardless of its negative attention, it's clear that 13 Reasons Why isn't going anywhere. Now the question is: what's coming next?