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Netflix Is Close to Renewing 13 Reasons Why — but Should It?

It's not a simple question or a simple answer

Sadie Gennis

Netflix is thisclose to picking up a second season of their smash hit 13 Reasons Why.

According to Deadline, it's only a matter of time before the streaming service announces a Season 2 pickup of the tragic drama, which detailed the events that led to and followed the suicide of a teenage girl, Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford). This report falls in line with the unfortunate recasting of Reggie on Riverdale, since Ross Butler, who played Archie's nemesis in Season 1, was unable to sign onto Season 2, leading many to assume this was due to scheduling conflicts with him reprising his role of Zach on 13 Reasons.

And while the 2007 Jay Asher novel 13 Reasons Why is based on is an extremely self-contained story with a clear ending, news of a renewal wouldn't be too surprising to fans. While 13 Reasons Why's first season covered the entirety of Asher's bestselling YA work, the series also drastically expanded the story beyond Asher's text, particularly when it came to the ending.

Much to the detriment of the show, the season's final two episodes were over-stuffed with storylines that were blatant attempts to set up a potential Season 2, including whether Bryce (Justin Prentice) will be prosecuted for sexual assault; if Alex (Miles Heizer) is alive after an apparent suicide attempt; what Tyler (Devin Druid) plans doing with his arsenal (and whether he was actually the one who shot Alex); where Justin (Brandon Flynn) took off to; and what Hannah's parents (Kate Walsh and Brian d'Arcy James) plan on doing now that they have their daughter's 13-part suicide note.

On one hand, there is a good case to be made for letting 13 Reasons Why be a strong, albeit uneven, one-season wonder. One of the biggest hooks of the first season was its format, with each pegged to one of Hannah's tapes in which she detailed a specific person and event that led to her decision to kill herself. When it comes to Season 2, this format wouldn't be duplicable -- or at least it not in any way that wouldn't feel like a cheap echo. (Honest to god, if Alex dies and Clay [Dylan Minnette] finds a set of CDs Alex recorded before his death, I will riot).

Miles Heizer, Dylan Minnette, 13 Reasons Why
Beth Dubber/Netflix

Hannah was also the emotional anchor of the entire first season, with one of the show's main goals to give voice to this girl who was never seen or loved for who she was. Instead, she was objectified, used and tossed aside by almost everyone in her life until she felt as though there was no other future for her. To shift the storyline away from Hannah would not only be jarring, but unless done properly, it could undermine much of the important messages of the first season.

That being said, I want a Season 2.

Did the way the first season ended disappoint and frustrate me? More than I can talk about here. But over the course of the show's 13-episodes, the writers did such an excellent job of building out these characters and making me emotionally invested in each and every one of them (yes, even the monster Bryce). The ending was ham-fisted in its execution, but I can't help but wonder, what did happen to Alex, and how will this change his relationship with his dad? How will Jessica (Alisha Boe) move forward from her sexual assault? Will there be more Tom Everett Scott next season?

There's no denying that Season 2 would be an ambitious task, and it would involve a lot of changes. The most obvious of which is that they would have to drop the tape format. However, that doesn't meant they'd have to forgo point-of-view episodes entirely. Even without relying on the structure of two timelines jumping between Hannah's experience in the past and Clay's experience hearing her story in the present, Season 2 could still feature spotlight episodes on individual characters, much like how Orange Is the New Black and The Leftovers balances point-of-view episodic stories with larger, serialized plots.

If Alex does pull through, that also opens up an exciting new opportunity for the series to approach suicide and depression from a new angle: by telling the story of someone who survived a suicide attempt and where they go from there. This would actually fall in line with Asher's original ending for the novel, which initially saw Hannah survive and have to lean on Clay as she was now forced to endure the repercussions of her confessional tape series.

The trickiest part, of course, will be how Hannah's memory is kept alive in a second season. The writers will have to strike a complicated balancing act between continuing to honor who Hannah was and the profound effect she had on the people around her, while also showing her peers moving forward with their lives.

There are a lot of ways Season 2 would go wrong, but at this point, I think it would be a shame if they didn't try.