13 Reasons WTF

Third Season of Teen Soap is a Sad Disaster

I watched Season 3 of 13 Reasons Why, and I deeply regret it. I cleaned my entire house and exercised to avoid watching. It was the most dreadful thing I’ve seen, and I watched every single episode of Young & Hungry. This show makes Young & Hungry look like a finely-tuned machine.

For season 3, the writers developed one episode worth of storyline, then dragged it into 13 full-length episodes. The final episode is an hour and 11 minutes! That’s nearly feature-film length, and even though it’s a pivotal wrap-up episode, it still feels like nothing happens.

If I were Ross Butler (Zach) I would be enraged that I left the spooky fun of Riverdale for this sad high school play. The show has been under fire for its portrayal of traumas like sexual assault, suicidal ideation, violent fantasies, and more. To offset this, they have everyone in the cast do PSAs before the second and third seasons–this season shares that resources are available at 13reasonswhy.info. They couldn’t even get a dot com for this, a much-to-little-much-too-late gesture.

However, the show itself shows every single teen character steadfastly avoiding those resources. Adults fail the teens entirely; we see perhaps five adults who are safe all season. If 13 Reasons Why wants to be responsible, they need to be better at it.

Death To Bryce
RIP Bryce

This show has never been what I would call “good” but the first season had a compelling mystery that slowly unfolded over time, and a compelling lead in Hannah. With Hannah completely gone, the third season floundered hard. They didn’t have enough story to spend as long as they did telling it, and the mystery was not nearly as engaging.

This season has us solving the murder of the monstrous Bryce Walker, a character who almost no one misses. Season three is strangely focused on a sympathetic portrayal of this predator. The result is a deranged nightmare that brings in a completely new character as protagonist, and starts in the middle or maybe the end of the story.

I blame Big Little Lies for this, I really do. Ever since that book came out, the industry’s been horny for flashback-laden stories that start at the end. It’s Memento-style bullshit all over again. It only works when the writer is really good, with a well-planned plot. That didn’t happen here.

While the actress who plays her is very charming, the new addition of Ani is the worst character of all time. She makes bizarre choices, like sleeping with her friend’s rapist, designed to move the plot along and not much else.

She makes Clay even more morose, and Clay is basically a real-life version of A Nightmare Before Christmas character. In previous seasons, we’ve seen Bryce rape multiple women, bully countless students, do endless drinking and drugs, and have zero remorse for any of it. Suddenly Ani and her mother move into the Walker home (Ani’s mother is a home health care worker caring for Grandpa Walker) and this forces us see Bryce in a new light.

I think 13 Reasons Why truly wants us to believe change is possible by showing both Tyler and Bryce. Except Tyler was a perpetually ostracized kid who Bryce’s pal Monty brutally assaulted. Bryce has done much worse to at least 10 women (he says he raped Jess and Hannah and seven or eight other girls– he can’t even remember all of them!) and now feels kind of bad that he has no friends. Tyler never had any friends and he didn’t do any of those awful things. Bryce’s family gets Tony’s family deported and the show is still like “aww but look at Bryce being nice to his mom!”

Clay the Super-Drip
Clay, man, you gotta do something

The show completely defeats its own stated purpose when instead of asking for help from adults, the teens team together to cover up Tyler’s attempted school shooting. Clay literally steps in front of a gun. They team up to babysit Tyler as a group, with a spreadsheet involved. So now Clay is: a high school student, rehab counselor, and psychotherapist/babysitter for a potential violent offender. Got it. And he still does homework. The only good and truly surprising part of this season was when Clay admitted he writes fanfiction. I bet it’s better than this show.

Jess and her women’s group incite outrage by protesting rape culture at homecoming. This sets the stage for a huge fight that leads to Bryce permanently injuring Zach and ruining his scholarship chances. This is the new and improved Bryce, by the way. He still sucks.

13 Reasons Why culminates by contradicting itself entirely. The entire premise of this show is supposedly to end rape culture and violence. It ends with all characters teaming together to help a different white boy get off scot-free for Bryce’s murder. Oh by the way, it was Alex. After Zach beat up Bryce, Alex and Jessica attempted to help him up, but Bryce got enraged and they scuffled. He fell into the river and died. There. Now you don’t need to watch this garbage. Alex’s cop dad helps cover it up and they blame Monty, who was murdered in prison after going in for raping Tyler.

There are many more illogical plotlines to explore but I don’t recommend it. For more resources you can trust, such as the police, counselors, and actors on this awful show, go to 13reasonswhy.info, or Google any other resource instead.

Kristin Clifford

Kristin Clifford is a comedy writer in Los Angeles. She started in Chicago, studying improv and performing stand-up, but has traded the stage for the page. Recent projects include writing for season 2 of Cathy in Real Life.

2 thoughts on “13 Reasons WTF

  • September 12, 2019 at 1:48 am
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    Bryce did not “fall into the river”. Alex pushed him as they were struggling because Bryce pissed him off. Then he and Jessica watched him drown and let him die. But yes, the show was a mess.

    Reply
  • September 15, 2019 at 9:59 pm
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    Ani sucks and should kill herself! I am done with this show. Who thought this would be a good character? And speak fucking English!!!!!!

    Reply

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