Netflix's hit series 13 Reasons Why recently wrapped filming its second season, giving fans a lot of time to speculate about which controversial topics the teens at Liberty High School will tackle next. Though producers have kept pretty quiet up until this point, actor Miles Heizer (Alex) recently told Us Weekly that the content will be reflective of current events.
"I think [the taboo topics] are kind of in the same amount as the first season," he said. "We're just talking about real issues that people don't talk about that much, but I feel like are actually talking about more, especially right now in our culture. I think this season's gonna be very relevant. I'm excited for it to come out and for people to see what's going on."
Some have theorised that the second season would involve a school shooting, citing a scene in which the school photographer, Tyler (Devin Druid), loaded up his car with weapons after he hung up photos of his bullies. A few fans even tossed around the idea that Tyler was the one responsible for sending Alex to the hospital with a gunshot wound to the head. This theory, however, has not been confirmed by the writers. In fact Druid himself seemed to cast some doubt on it during an interview with Refinery29.
It's not implausible to think that the show would highlight gun violence in some capacity. According to Everytown for Gun Safety, an average of seven children and teens are shot and killed with a gun, intentionally and accidentally, every single day in the United States. That number could rise, too, as more and more school shootings, such as the one that happened in Parkland, Florida, just one month ago, take place.
Right now, the national conversation is focused on gun violence and gun safety, thanks to the brave teenagers who are organising school walkouts and rallies like March For Our Lives, pressuring their elected officials to pass meaningful legislation, and inspiring people across the country to register to vote for the 2018 Midterm election.
Perhaps, that fake trailer featuring a school shooting was more real than Netflix wanted us to believe. I hope that it's not.
I fear that by depicting a mass shooting, 13 Reasons Why might actually detract from the important discussions and work students are currently inspiring. Teens don't need to see a TV show to know how terrifyingly real the chances of a gunman opening fire in their halls are. Too many already know first-hand how devastating it is to see their friends die and to fear entering their classrooms. They go through the mandatory drills, and are talking about the warning signs. Profiting off of their terror, in my opinion, would be a tasteless move that would more likely trigger than educate teens and young adults.
Alternatively, the show could do a lot of good by elevating the powerful conversation surrounding the #MeToo and Time's Up movements. The first season already broached the painful subject of rape and sexual assault, by showing both Hannah's (Katherine Langford) and Jessica's (Alisha Boe) horrifying experiences. Rather than depict more assaults, the series could focus on the importance of consent and ways to have healthy sexual relationships. It could also help students learn what they can do to help should they witness harassment or assault.
We'll, unfortunately, have to wait until next year to find out for sure which direction producers took the series.