Culture

'13 Reasons Why' Season 2 Should Be Delayed Over Depiction of Teenage Suicide, Conservative Group Says

The Parents Television Council (PTC), a censorship advocacy group, called for Netflix to delay the Season 2 release of 13 Reasons Why on Wednesday. The organization wants the show to be safer for young viewers to watch and suggested it has depicted a "harmful" portrayal of teenage suicide.

Netflix hasn't announced the release date of 13 Reasons Why's second season. But Ross Butler, who plays Zach Dempsey on the series, said to fans Sunday it will return "soon." The show's premiere season showed the graphic suicide of protagonist Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford). 

The PTC, however, argues that several measures should be in effect before the new season hits the streaming service.

"We call on Netflix to refrain from releasing Season Two of 13 Reasons Why until experts in the scientific community have determined it to be safe for consumption by an audience that is comprised heavily of minor children," PTC President Tim Winter said Thursday in a statement to Newsweek. "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."

The PTC suggested Netflix should offer subscription plans that allow viewers to opt out of explicit programming and let subscribers remove content from the media they stream. The organization said it could become a positive resource for those at risk. It also asked Netflix to consider participating in a conference that would help cultivate ways to implement protective measures that are beneficial to families.

"Parents may believe that Netflix is 'safer' for their families than other forms of entertainment, but the reality is that it is not," Winter continued. "Parents need to be aware of 13 Reasons Why and this insidious digital media culture that is engulfing our children and teens."

13 Reasons Why proved to be a cultural phenomenon upon its arrival on Netflix last March. But it drew a backlash for its portrayal of teen suicide. Ahead of the show's Season 2 release date, Netflix shared data from a Northwestern University study about how teens and parents responded to the series. Parents "wanted more resources," so Netflix said it would implement new tools to help viewers, including having cast members come out of character to speak on suicide prevention. 

Criticism of the show's freshman season elicited a response from one of its executive producers, Selena Gomez. The Disney alum is producing the series with mother Mandy Teefey for July Moon Productions, a production company the "Bad Liar" singer founded.

"We wanted to do it justice, and yeah, [the backlash is] going to come no matter what," Gomez told the Associated Press in April 2017. "It's not an easy subject to talk about, but I'm very fortunate with how it's doing, and I’m overwhelmed, very proud of it."

Newsweek has reached out to Netflix for additional comment.

Netflix 13 Reasons Why Cast members Dylan Minnette and Katherine Langford at a screening for "13 Reasons Why" in Beverly Hills, California, on June 2, 2017. The Parents Television Council is calling for Netflix to delay the show's Season 2 premiere. Reuters/Mario Anzuoni