13 Reasons Why is a teen drama on Netflix that tells the story of Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford) and the reasons why she committed suicide. Hannah leaves behind 13 tapes, each one dedicated to a person who somehow contributed to her choosing to end her life. The show unfolds like a mystery, with each tape filling in more details about Hannah’s life and death.
While the first season of 13 Reasons Why is based on the novel of the same name by Jay Asher, Season 2 of the series is going past the events of the book to continue the story. The second season will focus on the fallout of Hannah’s suicide and the lawsuit her parents are bringing against the school. And with the new season also comes a new mystery revolving around the appearance of mysterious polaroids targeting some of the students testifying.
While fans may be tempted to jump into Season 2 to see what all the fuss is about, it is a much better experience watching Season 1 of 13 Reasons Why first. After all, there are two sides to every story and Hannah’s story was only the beginning.
Season 1 of 13 Reasons Why is told through the eyes of Clay (Dylan Minnette) as he listens to Hannah’s tapes. Everything revealed about Hannah is filtered through his perception of her which is in turn affected by the crush he had on her. Clay frequently puts Hannah on a pedestal, he thought she was perfect. He believes all the tapes without question and lashes out at anyone who thinks differently.
This is only one side of the story. Because fans only see Hannah through Clay’s eyes, it is hard to know who she really was. Season 2 digs deeper, showing Hannah’s life outside of her time spent with Clay working at the movie theater. There are more glimpses of her home life and friendships with other students. It makes Hannah a much better developed and complex character.
Season 1 creates sympathy for Hannah. But as Clay learns more about the real Hannah a much different impression of her can be formed. Both seasons complement each other in a way that is important for better understanding her character and choices.
Hannah was the narrator of Season 1 of 13 Reasons Why, telling her own story in her own words. She is controlling the narrative, but that was just one side of the story. Season 2 gives a voice to the students Hannah targeted on the tapes, letting them explain the events from their own point of view.
Each episode of Season 2 is narrated by a different character, which means that everyone gets a chance to tell their side of the story. Scenes from the first season are shown again, this time from a new perspective. It doesn’t change the significance of what happened to Hannah but reveals how the other characters viewed the events and how they were feeling at the time. This allows characters like Courtney (Michele Selene Ang) and Tyler (Devin Druid) to be shown in a much more positive light.
It is fine to watch 13 Reasons Why Season 2 without seeing Season 1, but the real question is: why would you want to? Season 2 provides an entirely new context in which to view the events of Season 1. It provides a deeper understanding to Hannah’s story and proves that there are no easy, black and white answers here.
Season 1 of 13 Reasons Why is currently available to stream on Netflix. Season 2 premieres on May 18th.