How much is this one high school supposed to take?
Warning: Spoilers ahead for the first season of Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why.
13 Reasons Why‘s debut season is a riveting, heartbreaking story of one teenager’s tragic high school experience and everyone who played a part in it. Based on Jay Asher’s successful book of the same name, 13 Reasons Why tells the story of Hannah Baker, who committed suicide in her junior year … but only after recording 13 tapes explaining her decision.
The first season hit Netflix on March 31 and quickly garnered a following, which leads to the inevitable question: Will there be a season 2? Of course, the book ends with the finale of the first season, but many shows have outgrown their original source material. But perhaps the question in this case is: Should there be a second season? As great as the first season was, is there an argument to be made for letting the story end there? We think yes, and here’s why:
1. Hannah’s story is over. We’ve heard all the tapes, and they were always the focus of the show. Hannah’s last wish has been fulfilled, and thanks to Clay Jensen, she probably got more closure than she had hoped for (cough, tape 14). There’s no need for a followup on her parents and no need to see what becomes of the lawsuit — this isn’t a court drama. The important thing for her parents was always to get answers, to understand their daughter’s decision, and now that they have the tapes, they’ll get what they need.
2. Both obvious loose ends are too dark. The show leaves us with some unsolved mysteries, the biggest of which are Alex’s apparent suicide attempt and Tyler’s mysterious mission. If there’s a season 2, that’d be two more characters going down dark, terrible paths — paths that could change this show into a crime thriller or a whodunnit, which was never what made the show or its source material special. It would be too much and rings false, which leads us to our next reason…
3. More darkness would start to feel unrealistic. By the end of season 1, we had two suicide attempts, another high schooler talk about contemplating suicide (while in possession of a gun), and another buy a gun in an alley. At what point is there too much? And even when it doesn’t have anything to do with suicide, some characters’ arcs are better left alone; that way, the audience fills in the blanks. That’s more compelling than seeing their subsequent arcs played out. For example, Jessica ends the season telling her father what happened. We don’t see what happens next, but we already understand the emotional weight and importance of the conversation. The same goes for some of the series’ other characters…
4. Bryce confessed. Don’t drag out the legal battles that might ensue. (Again, this isn’t a court drama.) Nobody needs to watch Bryce try to worm his way out of this. Not only would showing hours and hours of Bryce using his myriad resources to avoid punishment take away from Hannah’s closure, but it would cause more pain for Jessica (and any other victims we might not know about). And for the viewer, it’s perhaps more interesting to think about what may happen, given the way real-world instances of high-school jock culture play out.
5. Justin left. That’s yet another dark story we don’t want to or have to see, as compelling as it may be. Either we lose that character in the second season or we follow him on a separate journey that distracts again from what’s happening with the rest of the kids. Plus, do we need to remind you that he left town with a gun in his bag and a bottle of alcohol in his hand? Things are bleak enough as is.
6. Porter is over and done. Do you really want to see that guy again? It’s better to leave him with an ambiguous ending; it drives the point home better, and makes you wonder what you would do in the situation.
7. It would start to feel too repetitive. All in all, if the show were to stick with these same teens and their secrets, viewers will compare it to season 1, and even if it follows a completely new format with a completely new mystery, there’s a good chance it will all feel like an echo of what we’ve seen already.
8. They’ve gone through enough. Seriously, how much is this one high school supposed to take?
9. There was enough closure for Clay and Tony. Unlike many characters, Clay and Tony seemed to be the two who really learned from this experience, who want to do better. Leave them with that optimism; in a way, that’s the best way to underline the point of the show.
10. Some secondary characters already felt like a stretch — and earned way too much screen time. Did we really need entire episodes on Ryan, Zach, and Marcus? It makes sense that 13 reasons = 13 episodes, but so many of these stories could have been condensed to fix the sluggish pacing around the middle of season 1. And more specifically…
11. We don’t need more Courtney or Marcus or Bryce. Enough said.
12. We do need more Jeff, but there wouldn’t be any. He was a supporting player whose scenes were a balm for the show’s open wounds, a lighthearted player in all the darkness before becoming a part of it. We’d miss him in season 2, along with Hannah, of course, which brings us to our final reason…
13. Most of all, it would diminish Hannah’s story. Like reason 1, this drama is about Hannah’s message ringing true and honest. If you do another season, you pretty much erase her point — you take away the idea that there is something to be learned from her death and her death specifically … unless the focus of season 2 is happiness and a school without bullying. But if that’s the case, where’s the drama?
All that said, we do have one and only one reason for a season 2: The adorable, crazy talented cast. If they do another project together, we’ll be first in line to see it.