13 Reasons Why: Season 4

  • 20 Jun - 26 Jun, 2020
  • Mag The Weekly

When it debuted in 2017, Netflix's addictive teen drama 13 Reasons Why was an open-hearted, and controversial, exploration of bullying, rape culture and the tragedy of suicide, showing how the death of an ordinary girl could rip open the secrets of an innocuous small town. Like Peyton Place and Twin Peaks before it, 13 Reasons Why reveled in the seediness of suburbia – who (or what social structures) led to Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford) ending her own life? Told via flashbacks based on a series of accusatory cassette tapes Hannah left behind, the original season seemed to both embrace and sidestep the contrived conventions of its genre, with hokey dialogue and outlandish plots that actually felt like the hormonally dumb things real teenagers would say or do. Season four is the sloggiest of them all, begging the audience to love and sympathise with a nightmare clique of high school students, who are, yes, traumatised by all the kitchen-sink realism creator Brian Yorkey has thrown at them, but are also arrogant and self-righteous coldblooded killers. Indeed, 13 Reasons Why has always had impeccable timing when it came to its irresponsible depictions of violence, but it truly outdoes itself this season with a group of fed-up middle-class suburban kids who literally got away with murder leading an anti-police riot and blowing up an authority figure's car. The new season is thus a prolonged haunting, as ghosts from the past dog each of the guilt-ridden teens and viewers are, in turn, subjected to a bunch of teens banshee-screaming at each other about some grievance or another. Clay finally succumbs to 13 Reasons Why's fetishisation of mental health struggles, and we watch him battle panic attacks, paranoia, disassociation, hallucinations and fugue states that are all played as demonic, psychological horror.