Zachery Sutherland is a staff reporter for the Arkansas Traveler, where he has been a staff reporter since February 2019.

13 Reasons Why

Bryce Walker (Justin Prentice) argues with his mother, Nora Walker (Brenda Strong) and his grandfather Mr. Chatham (Raymond J. Barry), in the episode “You Can Tell the Heart of a Man by How He Grieves”.

One of Netflix’s most controversial original series, “13 Reasons Why,” returned for an over-the-top third season that showcased the newest installment of the shallow, uninspired and excessively graphic show. 

The first few moments of the season introduced a new plot, somewhat of a reboot for the series  with Hannah Baker no longer at the center of the story. In an unusual turn of events, season three explores the demise of the series’ most controversial character, Bryce Walker (Justin Prentice) who raped two characters in previous seasons. After the discovery of Walker’s body, a whodunit storyline about finding his murderer became the season defining plot, threading into the lives of various characters.

Over the course of the story, the writers carelessly portray sensitive material in a dangerous manner and attempt to make the audience sympathetic to Walker, even introducing a new character who tries to understand him despite Walker’s past of assaulting women.

Much of the content throughout the series is sensitive to certain audiences, especially those who experience suicidal thoughts. 

Suicide is the second-highest cause of death among college-aged individuals, according to UA Counseling and Psychological Services.

Vehicular deaths are the only cause of death among college-aged individuals higher than suicide, according to a study by the US National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health.

As a show that can affect people in negative ways,  the original release of “13 Reasons Why” saw a rise in sucidal deaths. April 2017, the month of the release of the original season, saw the highest recorded amount of suicides in a five-year study, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. 

Despite the violence and sadistic moments, content in season three has no on-camera depictions of rape and suicide, although these themes still haunt the show. “13 Reasons Why” remains a gruesome, grueling show to watch. 

The series’ newest character, Ani Achola (Grace Saif), is introduced as a main character and narrator for the series. The use of a character to introduce a completely new plot with confusing threads was disorienting.

During Walker’s probation, Achola started spending time with him, and became close to him, despite knowing his past as a serial rapist. Throughout the season, she became sympathetic of him, despite his violent tendencies he still has via flashbacks, which could be a dangerous message, potentially leading viewers to misguidedly trust people like violent offenders.

Because of the violent and obscene depictions of murder, rape and attempted suicide that happen to the characters, the series can be difficult to watch.

One scene in particular involved an unneccessary and shocking confrontation between a character walking into a clinic to get an abortion and a pro-life protestor.

The directors, producers and set designers made the series as grotesque and macabre as ever, making the overall show feel similar to torture porn.

While the season tackled some disturbing topics not uncommon for the series, the acting was one of the few positives. Alisha Boe, who played Jessica Davis, shined as a character taking back control of her life after experiencing a rape in the first season.

Featuring songs like “All That” by Drama Relax and Jeremih, the soundtrack for “13 Reasons Why” was amazing as ever.

“13 Reasons Why” has been controversial because of its graphic depiction of suicide in the first season, and even without Hannah that controversy still haunts the show.

Overall, the third season failed to introduce a compelling storyline, instead being a shallow whodunit mystery. While past seasons were even more graphic to watch, they excelled with interesting and compelling characters. Unfortunately, the acting and music failed to save the series from being unentertaining to watch and torturous to endure.

The UofA offers various events throughout the year aimed at bringing attention to suicide, according to CAPS.

UA students who need emergency mental health support can call CAPS 24-Hour emergency service at 479-575-5276. 

“13 Reasons Why” will return for a fourth and final season next year.


Rotten Tomatoes Score: 6%

TV Rating” TV-MA

The Arkansas Traveler Score: F

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