13 Reasons Why: Could series 2 make us sympathise with a monster?

This article contains series 1 spoilers.

The first series of 13 Reasons Why isn’t done kicking up a right stink at the moment, with all manner of commentators fretting over the possible consequences of the suicide-themed teen drama. Even though the dust hasn’t settled on the first series yet, Netflix are apparently getting close to announcing a second series any day now.

The first series has left viewers with a huge amount of unanswered questions and if you haven’t seen the show, or haven’t quite binged your way through to the last episodes yet, then this is your cue to take Tony’s advice and go away and JUST LISTEN TO THE TAPES! There will be spoilers from now on.

So the big question is, where will series 2 go, and how dark can it possibly get? Rapist Bryce needs to be brought to trial, but that means Jessica and Justin will need to testify. Alex is in a serious condition after shooting himself, but will he survive? Clay seems to be moving on and choosing life which is great as in among all the scumbags at Liberty High, he’s a thoroughly decent dude. But most controversial of all, creepy photographer Tyler seems to be planning a school shooting.

With all these critics concerned that 13 Reasons Why is glamorising suicide, would Netflix and Paramount really take on a high school massacre in the second season? It seems like the logical direction to go and Tyler is certainly going to make for a fascinating, if perhaps not particularly likeable character to watch going forward. But will this send the media into too much of a frothing frenzy?

Whereas series 1 has taken the less challenging route of making us sympathise with the suicidal but likeable Hannah Baker as her life progressively got tougher, series 2 may ask us to sympathise with a murderer. In a school full of teens as terrifyingly unlikeable as those at Liberty High, that might not actually be as hard as it sounds.

It will be an incredibly controversial decision to structure 13 Reasons Why around Tyler’s list of motives for massacring his fellow students. What makes it more challenging is that we already have a good idea of who he might want to target, and why he wants revenge. Series 1 has already shown us Tyler becoming ostracised, ridiculed and damaged possibly beyond repair.

The writers won’t want to repeat themselves so hopefully if series 2 does revolve around Tyler’s plans, it won’t also revolve around Clay listening to some cassette tapes Tyler has made. A new structure will be necessary and if the writers want to avoid any similar controversy, they will have to think very carefully about how they portray a teenager’s decision to take a gun into his school.

If the message of the first series is that some suicides could be avoided if we were all better, more caring people, then will series 2 really have the nerve to suggest we could all do more to avoid high school students turning into weapon-wielding psychopaths? Viewers beware! This could get very dark indeed.

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