Netflix has taken some bold steps ahead of season two of ’13 Reasons Why’
This feels like a responsible move
The Netflix show 13 Reasons Why was as popular as it was controversial in its first season.
Dealing with topics including suicide and self-harm, the teen drama received plenty of attention from education and mental health sectors.
Netflix issued specific content warnings ahead of a number of episodes, and might have opted to simply repeat the formula for the second season after the show was renewed.
However, they have taken warnings and comments very seriously - and arguably gone above and beyond what might be expected of broadcasters in such a situation.
As reported by MTV, the streaming service commissioned researchers at Northwestern University in the United States to carry out a study into the impact of season one.
The study, which can be found in full here, set out to “examine how the individual, the content, and the context of viewing relate to how adolescents and their parents, as well as young adults, react to tough topic entertainment media that focuses on depression, bullying, suicide, and sexual assault”.
It surveyed thousands of adolescents and young adults in the United States, United Kingdom, Brazil, Australia and New Zealand, quizzing them on the relatability of characters and issues in the show as well as striving to find out the extent to which 13 Reasons Why influenced their future behaviour.
Additionally, more than 1,000 of the 5,400 people surveyed were parents of individuals within the 13-22 age bracket. There was a split between viewers and non-viewers of the show.
Following the publication of the results, which found more than two thirds of adolescents and young adults considered the issues to represent what people their age often face, and more than half consider the level intensity appropriate, Netflix has taken some steps.
It has shared a message from the cast of the show which urges viewers to start having important conversations relating to the serious topics covered.
The message also acknowledges that the show “may not be right” for those affected by the issues, or that they prefer to “watch it with a trusted adult”.
Finally, the video directs viewers to 13reasonswhy.info, a micro-site which carries contact details for The Samaritans and Childline in the UK and for equivalent services in dozens of other countries.
It has also shared the stories of real-life viewers, in an effort to shed light on how the show has allowed people to share their experiences with those close to them.
Sensible and smart moves from Netflix, we’re sure you’ll agree.