The Netflix drama 13 Reasons Why got renewed for a second season, which seems like a no brainer as the show was an instant hit in social media, and was one of Netflix’s more obvious hits. Without actual viewing data, we really only have social media to gauge which shows are hits for the network. Shows like Orange Is The New Black and House Of Cards are obvious “tier 1” hits for Netflix, and it would seem like 13 Reasons Why was getting similar amounts of buzz. So, it would seem that a second season was a forgone conclusion, except that it really isn’t.
The first season of 13 Reasons Why is actually based on a novel, of which the source material was completely tapped for season 1. There is no sequel. Jay Asher never wrote, though he considered writing, a sequel. It’s likely that the producers are using a lot of Asher’s ideas for a sequel, as well as some of their own. A lot of fans of the series were completely OK with this being a one-off, because this doesn’t seem like a show that can really be mined for several seasons worth of content. However, in an effort to help the producers make a solid season two (13 episodes worth), I’ve compiled a list of a few things we really need to see in Season 2… and some we don’t. Of course, there are spoilers below if you haven’t seen 13 Reasons Why yet.
1) Resist The Urge
I know you really want to stay topical, and you want Tyler to become a “school shooter”. That was evidenced by hit trunk full of guns and grenades that he was amassing for whatever you might have been planning. I can see why you would think a Season 2, with Tyler as catalyst would work. He would go in, shoot up the school, and then we’d be learning about his “13 Reasons Why” for being a school shooter. The problem with that is that Tyler is one of the least sympathetic characters in the show. He wasn’t just bullied for being a nerd, or for being uncool. He was bullied for being an obsessive stalker who stood outside girls windows and took photos of them, and then posted those photos for everyone to see. Tyler is very much a “reap what you sow” character, so to put him in any kind of position where we are supposed to empathize with him just doesn’t work. Having him going in guns blazing and killing people won’t work. No one cares about his “why”. We know why, and we’ll just hate him even more for it. I literally cannot stress this enough. You would need an entire season of redemption for Tyler before launching him into any kind of scenario where we can empathize with him. He’s one of the people we all can agree deserved to be on the tape, and his failure to understand what he was doing is actually a felony, and lack of true regret for his actions have actually led him to be the second-least-liked character only to Bryce. Every time someone told Tyler to fuck off, I applauded it. Tyler hid behind this idea that he was doing it out of love for Hannah, but you don’t post creepy private photos of someone you love. He’s clearly a psychopath with no realization of how his actions affect others, and having him shoot up the school wouldn’t resonate the same way Hannah’s tape did. Tyler is very much someone who should be in handcuffs in Season Two, but not for this.
2) Uncover More About Tony
One of our biggest characters is still a total mystery to us. I’d love to see more of Tony’s backstory, and maybe a reveal of how Hannah knew she could trust Tony. There were some hints, but they never really seemed that close. I feel like there are missing puzzle pieces with Tony that could definitely be explored in season two, especially regarding his family dynamic, and that time we saw him beating up some random dude. If there’s one character begging for character growth and a bigger arc in Season Two, it’s Tony.
3) Jessica’s Rape Case
By all means, this is the “issue” you should be pushing forward. Bryce is so casual about rape that I think a central focal point of the show has to be Jessica pressing formal charges on Bryce. THis would allow also for some new casting, as we’ve yet to meet anyone in Bryce’s family. Plus, this would be a way for Jessica to help make amends with Hannah. She’d be giving Hannah a voice she no longer has, to a crime she was unable to prosecute herself.
4) Don’t Kill Alex
Teen suicide is another hot button topic, but we’ve covered that with Hannah. Instead, have Alex be a survivor, and have him be able to discuss it from a survivors standpoint. A lot of people felt like Season 1 glorified suicide, and having Alex talking about his regret would go a long way to curb that mentality. He needs to survive the gunshot. He’s also one of the more empathetic characters in the ensemble.
5) What Happened With Sheri?
We definitely need to know what happened after Sheri turned herself in. That’s an absolute must for Season Two.
6) Continue To Push Justin As A Character
Justin had the widest character arc in Season Two. He started off being completely unlikable, and then as we got to know him, and he started making better decisions, he started on a redemption path. I think Justin could easily lead season two with a continued search for redemption, especially in Hannah’s parents eyes. It’s not too late for Justin. If he stands by Jessica (even if they aren’t dating) and helps her nail Bryce, while also owning up to his contribution to Hannah’s death, I feel like we can come full circle with Justin by the end of Season Two.
7) How Does This Affect The Overachievers?
We’ve got a couple of overachievers who were probably being tapped for some Ivy League colleges. How does Courtney’s and Marcus’s involvement in Hannah’s death affect their college prospects. How does this affect the Honor Board they sit on? When the “good kids” go bad, what are the repercussions?
8) The Porter Dilemma
You could go either way with Mr Porter. You could have him fired, and make him a scapegoat. He directly ignored Hannah’s suicidal tendencies. Or, with him now knowing that information, he could go on a new redemption arc of his own, and try to be a better counselor and make sure that never happens again.
9) The Bakers Should Be In Every Episode
The second season really should be about Hannah’s case resolving, and the Bakers finding some kind of peace through this resolution. The case should absolutely NOT bleed into a (god forbid) Season 3. Do not make this The Killing. Take these 13 episodes to completely resolve Hannah’s core arc, and The Bakers. Really, if you did a Season 3, there should be no need to even SEE The Baker’s. Give them as much resolution as humanly possible.
10) Shake Up At The School
Fire Principal Bolan and have someone else come in with a bit of a shakeup and some change. Someone who will challenge these kids in their current environment, without having direct ties to what happened with Hannah.
11) A New Kid?
I totally feel like you could introduce a new kid at school who is thrust into this very weird dynamic, and somehow becomes linked to one or more of the characters. I don’t feel like we can suddenly have a bunch of new faces, but you could easily do this through a “new kid”. Don’t get crazy with adding new students though. Don’t pull a Lost, where suddenly people who were at the high school the whole time are now stepping into the spotlight. That didn’t work for Lost, and those two characters became two of the most disliked characters in the show.
12) It’s Time For Kat To Return
Kat? Kat who? Kat was the girl who was Hannah’s first friend who moved away. I’d love to see her come back, even if only for an episode or two, just for her reaction to what happened. Maybe she could be deposed as a witness, and she comes back for that. I think checking in with Kat is a smart move.
13) Try Really Hard To Wrap Shit Up
I know we all want to create long running dramas, but if I’m sitting here talking about Season 7 of this show, I’d be absolutely shocked. I think this show had enough energy for one season, but we’re getting two. I’m trying to help make the best second season possible, but that involves not trying to leave a door open for season three. You have 13 episodes to wrap up all the storylines and character arcs, and leave viewers feeling satisfied. If you try starting up a new arc with the hopes of Season 3, your core fanbase is likely to give up. Especially if Season Three is about the aftermath of Tyler’s school shooting. Then, I’m done.