When 13 Reasons Why returns for Season 2, things are going to be very different.
While Season 1 followed Hannah's (Katherine Langford) suicide and the 13 tapes explaining her decision, the Netflix drama will put a much greater emphasis on exploring sexual assault in Season 2, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The new season will explore Hannah's and Jessica's (Alisha Boe) traumatic sexual assaults by Bryce (Justin Prentice), as well as chronicle Jessica's journey from victim to survivor in the wake of her admission to her father.
Season 2 will also explore a series of sexual assaults connected to one of the school's athletic teams. The allegations will come to light during the trial between Hannah's parents and the school district when "ominous" polaroids are discovered. Showrunner Brian Yorkey said that he hopes the timely story, which was conceived of before the #MeToo movement and when the Harvey Weinstein story broke, will spark some important conversations and help lead to institutionalized change.
"When we first developed it, we had these discussions about whether it was realistic to think that serial sexual abuse could be kept secret by so many people for so long. Over the course of the summer, we watched events unfold in our culture that confirmed to us that yes, unfortunately, it is possible for severe sexual abuse at a very high, consistent level to be kept secret by many, many people and for institutions to be complicit in it," Yorkey told THR. "So that's very much a part of our story in season two and we're hoping that enters the conversation around the show, particularly because it is something that girls even at a very young age are dealing with in our culture and it's something that needs to change."
Although the upcoming season will shift its focus from what lead to Hannah's death, it will dive deeper into the fallout from that tragedy and explore how different characters come to terms with it. Among those dealing with the aftermath is the school's guidance counselor Mr. Porter (Derek Luke), who will be extra vigilant about ensuring he doesn't make the same mistake twice.
"Mr. Porter will be coming to terms with the way that he let Hannah down and will be determined not to let any kids down in the future," Yorkey said. "We'll see a man who is determined to reach every kid who needs to be reached and help every kid who needs to be helped, whatever it takes. I think he will probably go out of bounds a bit, in the other direction, trying to be helpful in the best way that he knows."
Yorkey also revealed that the show will not feature another suicide in Season 2. The show was heavily criticized in Season 1 for glorifying Hannah's suicide, and Netflix has decided to provide additional resources for the new season to address viewers' concerns over how the series handles such sensitive topics.
13 Reasons Why returns for Season 2 on Thursday, May 18 on Netflix.