13 Reasons Why is not a show that pulls its punches.
It can’t really, given that the narrative revolves around a high school girl’s suicide, the people she believes contributed to her death, and the rape of a student.
The harrowing suicide narrative and the depiction of it was met with as much criticism as it was praise and now with season two about to be released on Netflix, the cast and writer discuss the lessons they’ve learnt from both the positive and negative responses.
“We feel the responsibility to tell these stories honestly and especially when there are specific details of what, say in the case of Jessica, a rape survivor goes through,” writer and producer Brian Yorkey told Yahoo Movies.
“We want to get those right. We do research, we talk to experts because there are so many kids going through these things every day we want to do everything we can to reflect their experience.”
He added: “There was conversation around these issues that wasn’t happening before. We can’t be afraid.”
Yorkey says the actors reached out to healthcare professionals in order to accurately portray their characters and connect with the narrative.
“Our actors work so hard with their research, talking to doctors to get the performance right that they actually internalise a lot of these challenges,” he said. “So they’re very glad to be part of the movement to get people talking and to get change happen.”
Katherine Langford, who plays Hannah Baker, says she’s aware of the impact her character has had on certain audience members and how they’ve reached out to share their own stories.
“I can see in some regards the influence and the impact that the show has had and how it’s resonated with people on a deep level,” she explained. “Then kind of by default people tend to resonate with you in a way or feel comfortable expressing how the show impacted them to you.
“I have to say, the fan encounters that I have had are some of the most wonderful.”
Dylan Minnette, who plays Clay, says that the cast and crew had to “forget about all outside voices” that would have distracted them from telling an authentic story in season two.
“We set out to portray a very truthful, honest, unflinching story both on screen and within the script and going into season two it’s not sacrificing the story that we’ve been setting out to tell,” he said.
“Making sure we stay true to the series, and what it is, and make sure there’s still a purpose for making it. If we end up holding back from being as truthful as we possibly can we’re not really making the show that we sat out to make.”
13 Reasons Why season two air on Netflix from May 18