The season 2 finale of 13 Reasons Why is shocking, heartbreaking, and has sparked plenty of controversy due in particular to a scene involving student photographer Tyler Down (Devin Druid). In it, Tyler’s head is violently shoved into a toilet by three student athletes, who then brutally sodomized him with a mop handle. Tyler is left so badly traumatized from the attack that he later shows up to the school’s spring dance planning to carry out a mass shooting.
“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,” Yorkey said, sharing that the scene was developed after finding research on real-life cases of sexual violence against boys in high school. “When we talk about something being ‘disgusting’ or hard to watch, often that means we are attaching shame to the experience. We would rather not be confronted with it. We would rather it stay out of our consciousness. This is why these kinds of assaults are underreported. This is why victims have a hard time seeking help. We believe that talking about it is so much better than silence.”
According to Druid, the idea of portraying Tyler in that assault scene was “incredibly intimidating” at first. “You’re suddenly given this responsibility to portray a horrific thing that unfortunately happens to many people around the world, a lot of them even younger than Tyler,” the actor said in an interview with AOL’s Build Series.
Druid went on to reference a 2017 study by the Associated Press that found out of the more than 2,800 cases of sexual assault reported at elementary and secondary schools, sodomy victims were an average age of 12 and a half. After learning this information, Druid agreed that the scene was absolutely necessary in the episode, despite his initial hesitation and how uncomfortable it might be to watch.
"I felt tasked with this need to represent what victims go through, to hopefully show that they’re understood and heard, and for people who don’t know what these issues are or don’t have the empathy to understand, to show them what it’s like,” he said.
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).
If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or the Suicide Crisis Line at 1-800-784-2433.