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Conservative watchdog seeks major changes from Netflix before Season 2 release of '13 Reasons Why'

Wendy Geller
Writer, Yahoo Entertainment
Yahoo TV
Katherine Langford in Season 1 of 13 Reasons Why. (Photo: Beth Dubber/Netflix)

As fans of Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why are eagerly making guesses as to when its second season will finally be released, a conservative watchdog group is hoping the controversial series won’t have a return date any time soon.

The Parents Television Council (PTC) has asked Netflix to hold off on releasing the new season of the drama until “experts in the scientific community have determined it to be safe for consumption by an audience that is comprised heavily of minor children.”

When a film or TV series centers entirely on high school-aged children for its storytelling, it is high school and junior high school children who watch and who feel most emotionally connected to the characters,” PTC president Tim Winter said in a release. “Grown-ups don’t put themselves into the position of high schoolers; but other children do.”

“The impact of season one of 13 Reasons Why, which culminated with a graphic suicide scene of a high school-aged character, was powerful and intense: Millions of children watched; the Google search term for how to commit suicide spiked 26 percent; and there were news reports of children literally taking their own lives after the series was released,” he added.

13 Reasons Why premiered last year, and even though it is largely critically acclaimed (and earned star Katherine Langford a Golden Globe nomination), its focus on suicide and other mature content has drawn controversy, including concern and criticism from parents and mental health professionals.

Netflix addressed these concerns last month by commissioning a study that revealed surprisingly positive results about its influence on young people:

  • Nearly three-quarters of teen and young-adult viewers reported that they tried to be more considerate about how they treated others after watching the show.

  • More than half of teen viewers reached out to apologize to someone for how they had treated them; and more than two-thirds were more motivated to help someone who was depressed, bullied, or sexually assaulted.

  • Nearly three-quarters of teen and young-adult viewers said the show made them feel more comfortable processing tough topics.

  • More than two-thirds of parents reported that watching the show prompted them to communicate with their children about difficult topics; 71 percent of teens and young adults were inspired to discuss the show and related issues with their parents.

Netflix also added a special viewing guide and additional resources. 

The PTC praised Netflix for these efforts but said they simply aren’t enough. In addition to their request to delay the next season, the organization also urged Netflix to implement a pricing structure that allows opting out of adult or explicit programming and work to increase filtering options. 

Additionally, it suggested Netflix consider using the show as a platform for suicide prevention messages (citing rapper Logic’s “1-800-273-8255” as a successful pop-culture example to follow) and participate in a national dialog on protecting children from inappropriate content. 

“Parents may believe that Netflix is ‘safer’ for their families than other forms of entertainment, but the reality is that it is not,” Winter concluded.

Season 1 of 13 Reasons Why is now streaming on Netflix. Season 2 will premiere in 2018.

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