Netflix's CEO Reed Hastings isn't that interested in the criticisms of its popular teen show 13 Reasons Why. Per Deadline, Hastings defended the site's decision to renew the series during the company's annual meeting with shareholders. Hastings cited the show's immense popularity, referring to it as "engaging content."
"It is controversial," he admitted. "But nobody has to watch it.”
The first season of 13 Reasons Why encountered criticism for its graphic depiction of the death of Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford). The second season pushes even more boundaries, depicting an attempted school shooting as well as a violent rape scene. Through it all, the creators and Netflix have stood behind their decisions to produce the series — and people keep watching it.
Speaking to Vulture last month, series creator Brian Yorkey explained why the season 2 rape scene was, by his terms, "essential." "As intense as that scene is, and as strong as are or reactions to it may be, it doesn’t even come close to the pain experienced by the people who actually go through these things," he said. "When we talk about something being ‘disgusting’ or hard to watch, often that means we are attaching shame to the experience...We believe that talking about it is so much better than silence."
Still, criticism flowed. Following the news that it had been renewed, the Parents Television Council condemned Netflix's decision on Twitter.
"The company already potentially has the blood of children on their hands from keeping this series – with its graphic suicide scene, its sodomisation of a teen boy and a potential school shooting, among other adult content – on its platform for children to view," the PTC said in a statement released on Twitter.
Additionally, the PTC called Hastings' response "callous." "Is that what Mr. Hastings and Netflix stand for in today’s world of #MeToo, whereby women who are sexually harassed in the workplace are told ‘nobody has to work here?’ Is that his opinion on marketing tobacco to children, or for other dangerous products that enter the stream of commerce and cause injury or death, that ‘nobody needs to buy it?'" PTC president Tim Winters said in a separate statement.
The third season will reportedly not feature Katherine Langford as Hannah Baker, the lead role in the first season. Yorkey also told reporters at a Netflix For Your Consideration that the third season would likely be about how young people "learn how to heal from the things that have hurt them."
If you are thinking about suicide, please contact Samaritans on 116 123. All calls are free and will be answered in confidence.
If you have experienced sexual violence of any kind, please visit Rape Crisis or call 0808 802 9999.