Warning: Major spoilers from seasons 1 through 4 ahead. Trigger warning: This article contains language related to rape, sexual assault, substance abuse and suicide.
In March 2017, 13 Reasons Why aired on Netflix. Three years and four seasons later, the series — based on a Jay Asher novel of the same name — has become one of the most popular and controversial teen dramas to ever hit the streaming platform.
Unlike other shows with similar audiences (i.e. Riverdale and Outer Banks), 13 Reasons Why deals with real-life issues, and as a result, viewers aren’t given your traditional “happy ending.” Ultimately, all three season finales, as well as the series finale, are tragic in their own way.
It was important to both Jay Asher and showrunner Brian Yorkey to start a dialogue about suicide, sexual assault, substance abuse and other such issues for students, parents and educators — even if they were met with backlash.
“A lot of the controversy comes from when you write about things that are really uncomfortable to talk about,” Jay, 44, told The Charlotte Observer in a June 2017 interview. “The scenes, both in the book and the series, that make people the most uncomfortable are the scenes that I’ve heard the most from readers and viewers about being the most positively impactful.”
One of the most talked about scenes from 13 Reasons Why is Hannah Baker’s suicide. The troubled teenager (played by Katherine Langford) took her own life in season 1, episode 13, “Tape 7, Side A.” The scene, which has since been removed from Netflix, showed Hannah cutting her wrists and bleeding out in a bathtub.
“They wanted to show it as a very horrific experience,” Jay explained. “You know, we’re used to — when it comes to sexual assault or suicide — things happening in another room … or things going black at that point. We’re more comfortable with that. That’s how we’ve been doing it for so long and yet, people still then wonder why some people aren’t grasping how horrific these things are. So we felt we need to show how horrific it is, and how horrific it is to find that body when you’re the parents.”
The California native, who released his novel in 2007, added that after the show aired, he heard from “so many people” who have contemplated suicide but “never really envisioned what that hurt was going to look like.”
For a breakdown of how every season of 13 Reasons Why ends, scroll through the gallery below.
If you or someone you know is in emotional distress or considering suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
If you or anyone you know has been sexually abused, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673). A trained staff member will provide confidential, judgment-free support as well as local resources to assist in healing, recovering and more.
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