The creator of 13 Reasons Why defends the graphic [spoiler] in the season finale: “We need to be talking about the fact that things like this happen”

There are major spoilers ahead for the season finale of 13 Reasons Why Season 2. Also, let this serve as a trigger warning as the season finale deals with many sensitive subjects, like gun violence and rape.

And it’s the latter that is causing a lot of controversy for the Netflix show. After seemingly getting “better” throughout the season, school photographer Tyler is raped in the school bathroom. The season ends with a culimnation of just about every shitty thing that’s happened over the past 13 episodes finally reaching a head. Jock Montgomery, who has it out for Tyler, corners him in the boy’s bathroom along with a few others and sticks his head in the toilet.

This is bad enough as it is, and then Montgomery grabs a mop and uses it to rape Tyler. Just like in Season 1, 13 Reasons Why does not shy away from showing this graphic scene, and Tyler is left with his pants down, bloodied and bruised. Later, he hides these injuries from his mother, as to not clue her in as to what’s happened.

Following this incident, Tyler decides to carry out something that’s been hinted since Season 1: A school shooting. Though he doesn’t actually go through with it, the fact that he actually shows up at the school with firearms in hand — before being talked down by Clay — has sparked backlash against the show.

In an interview with Vulture, Brian Yorkey — the series creator and showrunner – spoke about the decision to include the rape scene, along with what Tyler decides to do following it.

“We’re committed on this show to telling truthful stories about things that young people go through in as unflinching a way as we can," he explained. "We fully understand that that means some of the scenes in the show will be difficult to watch. I think Netflix has helped provide viewers with lots of resources for understanding that this may not be the show for everybody, and also resources for people who do watch it and are troubled and need help...When we dug into that research, I think we were all astounded to find how many times this happened, this disturbingly similar story of a male high school athlete violating a weaker boy with some sort of instrument like a mop handle or a pool cue,"

Yorkey then brought up the fact that Season 1 included two rapes, Hannah and Jessica (both by that jerk-face, Bryce). However, though those were both graphic and difficult to watch, neither received as much negative response as Tyler’s.

“The very, very intense scene of Hannah’s suicide seemed to overshadow the fact that Hannah and one other girl were violently raped in Season 1, he said. “If there’s a greater sense of backlash about this scene, especially it being hard to watch, ‘disgusting,’ or inappropriate, that goes to the point that we need to be talking about the fact that things like this happen. The fact that this would be somehow more disgusting than what happened to Hannah and Jessica, I’m shocked but not surprised.

With this in mind, it seems like just another double-standard out there between violence against men and women and how it’s depicted, and received, in the media. If you or someone you know is struggling with the issues depicted in this season of 13 Reasons Why, you can find more resources and help here.

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