If you have not yet finished the new Netflix Original series 13 Reasons Why or read the books, this is your last chance to turn back.
13 Reasons Why is a novel written by author Jay Asher in 2007 that was recently adapted by Brian Yorkey for Netflix and released on March 31, 2017. The show follows high school student Clay Jensen as he listens to the tapes left behind by fellow classmate Hannah Baker following her suicide. Judging by the reaction that fans had online, I wouldn’t be surprised if Netflix made another season, but I would be disappointed.
I read the books back in middle school, and I thought that the Netflix adaption was amazing and really did the book justice. Most of the story lines wrapped up, and I was pleasantly surprised at the twists that were thrown in for dramatic effect.
At the end of the series, the viewer does not know the fate of rich, white, sports superstar Bryce Walker. The whole crew goes out of their way to protect him for the entirety of the series which is reflective of reality. Even when confronted by Clay, Bryce doesn’t realize that what he did to Jessica, Hannah, and most likely many others, is wrong. Everyone is so busy protecting his feelings, he is not held accountable for his actions.
Yes, in the end, Clay goes to extreme measures to procure a confession out of him, but we as viewers don’t know if that’s enough. The sad reality is that people like Bryce Walker are abundant in this world and usually get light, or no punishments for their crimes. This results in many of the abused end up keeping to themselves and never going forward.
The show ends before anything comes from Bryce’s recorded confession, so it is up to the viewer to decide what happens. Judging by America’s track record with sexual abuse cases, one can only hope that justice was served.
Bryce’s situation and behavior closely resembles that of Brock Turner, the rapist from Stanford University. In January of 2015, Brock Turner sexually assaulted an unconscious woman outside of a fraternity party. Two graduate students who happened to be biking on campus saw Brock on top of the woman, who was not moving, and tackled him to the ground. Despite the witnesses and evidence, Brock was only sentenced to six months in jail, of which he only served three.
The judge cited Brock’s good behavior, his Olympic swimming behavior, and lack of criminal history in his reasoning for the lenient sentence. The character of Bryce Walker is very similar. As a star athlete, generally well-liked, and from an affluent background, the odds are in his favor. Both Turner and Walker show a complete lack of remorse for their actions as well as a lack of sympathy for their victims. Sure, he is forced to register as a sexual offender for the rest of his life, but that does not ensure that justice is fully served.
By creating a second season, we as viewers are forced to live out the white privilege that is prevalent in sexual assault cases. By leaving it open and ending with the way the series did, the viewer, like with the book, can decide what happens next for themselves. I, as a viewer, choose to believe that Bryce Walker goes to jail for enough time to realize that what he does is wrong in order to prevent any similar situations from happening in the future.
Here is the letter that The Stanford Victim, who preferred to remain anonymous, read to Brock during his sentencing.
If you or anyone you know is a victim of sexual assault, you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at (800) 656-HOPE which will automatically route the caller to the nearest sexual assault service provider. You can also search your local center here.
13 Reasons Why is now streaming on Netflix and the book is available for purchase here.