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Why I Stopped Watching “13 Reasons Why” Season 3

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Netflix dropped season 3 of its series adaption of the popular novel by Jay Asher, Thirteen Reasons Why. Both the book and show have strong themes of suicide, self-harm and sexual assault. The series is similar to the book at the beginning of the first season, but it has since drifted from the original narrative. No longer is the series focused on the passing of the cassette tapes Hannah recorded before her death and the after-effects of sexual assault. Instead, the show has expanded the 13RW universe through creating more depth in the characters, having Hannah’s mother pursue a court case and delving into the rape culture at Hannah’s high school, among other things. The second season was a deviation from the narrative entirely, and the season finale set the stage for the show to talk about male sexual assaults and school shootings.

Netflix, however, had a different view on where they wanted to take the show.

That different view was a literal different view. Taking place eight months after the Spring Fling, New Girl™ Ani sees Clay being taken off of school grounds by the police. It also becomes apparent that the narration, voiced by Ani, is actually a future confession to the police, sounding like a narrator from an old detective movie. It’s pretty confusing since we (the audience) don’t really know what’s going on, especially when all of the characters keep mentioning the Homecoming game and some “mess” that happened. Turns out, there was a brawl between Liberty High School’s football team and the team Bryce is now on after transferring schools. After the brawl, Bryce went missing and turned up dead with Clay as the prime suspect.

Many people were probably happy to see Bryce dead, especially since he was a horrible character that committed despicable acts, but it was really hard to be completely happy with this artistic choice. For one, no one truly deserves to die; I would’ve rather seen him go to jail. That wasn’t my biggest issue for this season though. No, remember how I mentioned Ani? Well, she was everything that was wrong with season 3.

The different viewpoint from a complete outsider was interesting but was not the right move for this season. No one goes to school as a new student and immediately seems to befriend the group that has so many secrets and lies. That was just so weird. And then there was this whole thing where Ani and Clay were playing detective and interviewing their friends to see if any of them was the one that killed Bryce.

Now, I didn’t finish the full season. I stopped on episode four because I was so done with the season. Ani was annoying, and the plot seemed stiff, but I really think what killed it for me was the fact that Ani and Bryce had sexual tension since Ani’s mother was Bryce’s grandfather’s nurse, something that made it so Ani lived in the pool house with her mother. I wasn’t a fan of that idea, so I did some Googling and confirmed my suspicions: Ani and Bryce were in a relationship. I think it was solely sexual but still, I don’t think that was cool of her to sleep with a serial rapist, one that raped one of her friends nonetheless.

It was also the characterization of Bryce through Ani’s eyes that disappointed me this season. She spoke of knowing the “real” Bryce, one that was hurting and feeling regret/guilt over what he had done and all of the hurt he caused. I mean, yeah, I hope he finally realizes that he is a total sh*tbag, but I feel like he really wouldn’t have had that big of a development between winning the court case and transferring schools. The show depicted Bryce getting bullied at his new school, sure, but that still couldn’t knock him off the high horse he was riding on for the past two seasons. They humanized him so much that I actually felt bad for him. I love rounded characters, but that went too far. Killing Bryce was not the best move for this season.

Despite that whole mess, I was happy to see how the group banded together to help Tyler recover. I also appreciated how they all encouraged him to seek professional help. The way they suggested it seemed somewhat abrasive and dismissive, but at least they offered advice and engaged in his recovery. Not everyone is equipped to handle someone’s pain, especially of that severity. I wish the show touched more on that theme more since many people often shirk the idea of professional help, relying more on friends to “fix” them.

A good example of how to help a friend without being the solution was Zach supporting Chlöe when she told him she was pregnant with Bryce’s child. Their relationship over that entire episode was really sweet, never passing friendship. Even after she decided to terminate her pregnancy, she and Zach remained friends. Zach was always a secret softie, and I was really happy to see it show in the episodes I watched.

Even though I want to know all of the details of this season, I cannot bring myself to watch past the fourth episode. There were some good parts, but I can’t get past Ani and her weird presence, as well as how Bryce is now being portrayed. I’m sure it was an interesting season, but I will never know.

(The one thing I do know is that all of the songs were absolute bops, so check out the soundtrack when you can!)

Paige Pennebaker

Chapel Hill '21

Paige Pennebaker is an aspiring writer who attends UNC-Chapel Hill as a Senior during the day. She enjoys writing fiction and has been published on shortfictionbreak.com. While fiction is where her heart is, Paige also has a lot to say about the real world and how to get by.
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