With 13 Reasons Why Season 2 closing out its first full weekend on Netflix, audiences have a lot of mixed feelings. That said, no matter if you loved the season or hated it, one storyline in particular has got everyone talking — the bathroom scene with Tyler Down and Monty de la Cruz.
For those of you who have yet to reach Episode 13, be warned of graphic spoilers ahead. Beginning at the 38-minute mark in the final episode of the season, Tyler enters the bathroom alone to wash his hands. Up to that point in the show, he’s had an incredibly difficult few weeks, and has just returned back to Liberty High School after being caught vandalizing the school’s baseball field with the word “rapists.”
The following description contains a graphic description of sexual assault and may be sensitive to some readers. Please be advised.
Monty, one of Tyler’s longtime harassers and a member of the baseball team, corners Tyler in the bathroom with two of his teammates. In the roughly two minutes that follow, Monty proceeds to bash Tyler’s head against a mirror and sink, before repeatedly dunking his head in and out of a toilet bowl.
Finally, and perhaps the most disturbing part, Monty proceeds to sodomize Tyler with the handle of a mop until he bleeds. Now, is this imagery absolutely horrific? Yes. But is it necessary in the context of the show? The producers, cast, and various experts believe so.
In 13 Reasons Why: Beyond The Reasons Season 2, these individuals explain why scenes such as Tyler’s sexual assault are integral in creating a conversation of change, tolerance, and understanding.
“Tyler is a victim of sexual assault, and I think that in many ways it’s even harder for a young man who’s been violated in that way to admit it,” Bryan Yorkey, Executive Producer, explains.
“I think at the point that Tyler’s mom comes in [his room] and asks him how his day was, he doesn’t have the slightest ability to begin to tell her what’s really wrong — that doesn’t even seem like an option to him,” he continues.
To that point, Bryan shares how Tyler’s shock, dismay, and guilt are a means of representing the tragic sense of isolation real male victims — and all victims — feel. “It’s important to remind ourselves that most crimes of sexual assault are not sex crimes, they’re crimes of violence,” he adds.
“We’ve found that this kind of thing happens in high schools across America, particularly with athletes violating other students with mop handles and pool cues almost at epidemic levels. It’s not something that’s reported often — male-on-male sexual assault is ridiculously underreported,” he concludes.
So, according to the producers, not showing the gratuitous male-on-male violence would ultimately be doing a disservice to the statistic that one in six men are sexually assaulted. Leaving out the difficult scene makes it easier to avoid the difficult conversation — similarly to how not acknowledging the fact that men are victims too, makes it easier to pretend like it’s not happening.
Remember, 13 Reasons Why is not a show that’s meant for everyone. It tackles deep issues that far exceed the scope of your typical “teenage drama.” Please heed the countless trigger warnings that those involved in the show’s creation have provided.
If you or someone you know is a victim of sexual assault, please call the following national hotlines for help, National Hotline for Crime Victims at 1-855-484-2846, or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
Additionally, 1in6 Online Helpline is a helpline for male survivors of childhood sexual abuse and adult sexual assault — it’s 24/7, free, and completely anonymous.