Selena Gomez is well aware of the 13 Reasons Why backlash. That for all those parents who are using the Netflix hit to bond with their kids, there are schools that are banning all discussion of the show. New Zealand had to create a whole new rating system for the insanely popular series. Paris Jackson has asked her fans to watch 13 Reasons Why with "caution" because of the way portrays suicide, while Aislinn Paul, who played Clare Edwards on the long-running teen soap Degrassi, tweeted that she thought the show was more harmful than helpful. Gomez, though, has a response for 13 Reasons Why critics.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Gomez said the show sticks very closely to Jay Asher's 2007 book of the same name that looks at the suicide of 17-year-old Hannah Baker, which is "a beautifully tragic, complicated yet suspenseful story and I think that’s what we wanted to do." She's not surprised that there is of the subject matter. “We wanted to do it justice and, yeah, [the backlash is] gonna come no matter what," Gomez said. "It’s not an easy subject to talk about, but I’m very fortunate with how it’s doing.”
13 Reasons Why has been criticized many times before for ignoring the connection between suicide and mental illness; critics argue that people "often commit suicide because they are unwell, not simply because people have been cruel to them." The Washington Post ran a story yesterday about a Florida schools superintendent who told parents that students are harming themselves and citing 13 Reasons Why. In a letter, the superintendent explained that "personnel have observed an increase in youth at-risk behavior at the elementary and middle school levels to include self-mutilation, threats of suicide, and multiple Baker Act incidents."
Netflix released a statement to the Washington Post in connection to the Florida claims to explain that they gave the series a TV-MA rating and "added explicit warnings on the three most graphic episodes." They also worked with mental health experts to make sure it accurately portrayed what teens are struggling with now. "Entertainment has always been the ultimate connector," Netflix wrote, "and we hope that 13 Reasons Why can serve as a catalyst for conversation."
That conversation will reportedly continue. Thanks to some surprising Riverdale casting news, fans are already speculating 13 Reasons Why is returning for a second season. Netflix has yet to confirm the news, but according to E!, when Gomez was asked about a second season she smiled smirked and said, "Maybe?"
If you or someone you know is considering self-harm, please get help. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.