13 Reasons Why: Season 2’s greatest misstep is not about depicting assault

13 Reasons Why season 2 dropped on Netflix just a week ago, but of course, some people have already binged the entire thing. Media scrutiny has been intense with the show still dealing with sexual assault, the repercussions of suicide, and now gun violence in schools.

But despite the show depicting rape, other forms of violence, and constantly dealing with issues of consent and various forms of bullying, its biggest misstep is not about any of these. In fact, 13 Reasons Why season 2 continues to tackle very challenging subjects in an impressively forthright manner.

Hannah’s back?

But the show’s biggest misstep in this new season is the inclusion of Hannah Baker appearing seemingly as a ghost to Clay. Hannah committed suicide in a graphic and distressing scene in season 1. Her family and friends have been struggling to cope with the suicide ever since.

Hannah isn’t really a ghost, but is more of a visual representation of Clay’s continuing feelings of guilt and loss. His visions of Hannah at first make some sense. In the opening episodes of season 2, Clay starts to imagine Hannah as he is kissing his new girlfriend Skye.

But as the season continues, Hannah starts to appear in front of Clay more and more often. She even talks to Clay and pushes him to help uncover mysteries surrounding the sexual assault of other victims at the school.


It is this treatment of a character that has committed suicide that is so problematic. The first season was criticised for its representation of suicide, not only in the graphic scene in the bathtub, but also for Hannah’s use of tapes to send a message from beyond the grave. Yes it is problematic to suggest that Hannah can get revenge on those who wronged her. But it is also a realistic possibility. If she didn’t feel she could talk to anybody, making those tapes might have been a believable alternative.

However, in season 2, Hannah’s appearance and ability to talk to Clay is silly at best, and irresponsible at worst. The promotional material for 13 Reasons Why season 2 suggested that Hannah’s story isn’t finished. That may be true. Having others talk about her during the trial is fine. But having Hannah return suggests that a person can still have a voice after they take their own life.

It’s a dangerous misstep on the part of the writers and one that is only partially rectified by Clay’s response to Hannah. His pain and his rage erupts in some episodes and he tells this ghostly vision of Hannah the effect her actions have had on him and others.

Perhaps Hannah’s appearance just shows how hard it is for Clay to let her go. Hopefully both Clay and the show can now move on beyond Hannah Baker in season 3.

What did you think of the return of Hannah Baker in 13 Reasons Why season 2?

Read more:

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’13 Reasons Why’ viewers ‘disturbed’ by sexual assault in Season 2