Thirteen Reasons Why season three shines light on rape in American high schools


Ian Richard

Thirteen Reasons Why (Netflix)

On Aug. 23, 2019, “Thirteen Reasons Why” returned with a third season.The show highlights sensitive topics that are becoming more common in younger generations, such as rape, drug abuse and underage drinking. Now that Katherine Langford (Hannah Baker) has left the cast of the show, more topics besides suicide are being discussed.  

One of the most prevalent topics in the show is rape, and how it ties into the culture of American high schools. In this season, Bryce Walker (Justin Prentice) mysteriously dies. The show flashes back to moments in Bryce’s life, showing him performing forced sexual actions which can be triggering for some viewers. This is the show’s way of highlighting sensitive topics involving occurrences that really do occur in American high schools. 

According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, an anti-sexual violence organization also known as RAINN, 82% of all sexual assault victims are under the age of 18. This happens to be the most prevalent age group for the Netflix series. The two main characters that were victims of sexual assault by Bryce, Hannah Baker and Jessica Davis (Alisha Boe), caused some controversy with the way their sensitive scenes were portrayed and the long term effects both characters suffered. 

Hannah passed away in the show mainly because she fell victim to Bryce. Also, Jessica did not feel comfortable in her own body until season three because of Bryce’s negative impact on her life. The show includes sensitive scenes to show what the affects of sexual assault really are.

Since the show received backlash, the cast quickly united to film a warning which would play at the beginning of each season, saying that the show may not be right for all viewers and that children or teens may want to watch with a trusted adult. Another response to the harsh reviews was that the show created a website providing resources to help individuals suffering from various issues covered in the show.

Alongside the show and website, there is a talk show that relates to the series called “13 Reasons Why: Beyond the Reasons,” where the cast discuss everything about the show and share personal experiences that they have been through that can relate to the show. 

Even though “13 Reasons Why” has sparked an adequate amount of controversy, the show has already been renewed for a fourth, final season, validating the successful viewer count and approval rate. Viewers will just have to wait and see what Netflix has in store for everyone with the last season.