You’ve watched, or plan to watch, the first few episodes of 13 Reasons Why, season 2 with your teen. Following the shows, there is a lot to talk about.
What are the most important topics to discuss and how do you lead the conversation? The following guide can help you navigate through the most important themes from each episode.
Theme: LGBT Issues
Courtney, the character narrating this episode, comes out as LGBT during the course of the trial. The episode shows how difficult it can be for a teen to come out to their parents and friends. Courtney is afraid of how people will treat her after she’s come out and how being LGBT will affect her current relationships.
- Discussion Tip: Ask your child if anyone they know – or if they themselves – have ever struggled to tell people they were LGBT. How did coming out affect their relationships?
Throughout the first episodes of the season, Clay continually asks his girlfriend Skye to promise she won’t hurt herself or that she’ll call him before she does. This is typical of what would happen among teenagers.
- Discussion Tip: Ask your child to brainstorm different ideas for how they could help a friend who self-harms. And, don’t be afraid to ask your teen if he or she has ever considered harming himself or herself.
Theme: Mental Health
During the second episode, Skye is hospitalized for increasingly erratic behavior. She is diagnosed with bipolar disorder. This is the first time the writers of 13 Reasons Why have addressed treatment options for mental health and that there is hope for people who are struggling with depression, bipolarity or other mental health concerns.
- Discussion Tip: Make sure your child knows that treatment does work and there is hope if they are struggling.
Theme: Sexual Assault
The term sexual assault refers to sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the victim. Jessica, the character narrating Episode 3, was sexually assaulted by Bryce during Season 1. Hannah, the character who dies by suicide during the first season, was also raped by Bryce. Clay and Alex pressure Jessica to tell the truth about the assault on the witness stand during the trial regarding Hannah’s death. But, Jessica is also receiving threats warning her not to disclose the rape in her testimony. Ultimately, Jessica does not tell the truth about what happened on the witness stand.
- Discussion Tip: Ask your teen to tell you about anyone they know who may have been sexually assaulted. Then talk to them about how they feel about the situation. For more information about Arizona laws surrounding sexual assault, visit RAINN.org.
One of the reasons Jessica gives for not telling the truth about being raped by Bryce is that she is afraid of the cross-examination she will receive. She’s seen other witnesses be ripped apart and worries that it will be worse for her because she is biracial with a mother who is white and a father who is black.
- Discussion Tip: Ask your kids how race plays a part in their school and how people treat each other.
During this episode, a friend of Hannah’s mother Olivia sees the blood-stained dress Oliva was wearing when she found her daughter after Hannah’s death by suicide. The friend then washes the dress without Olivia’s permission. The storyline causes difficulty and anger for Olivia and results in her explaining that she has to process her grief in her own way.
- Discussion Tip: While others can encourage you and give you advice, no one can force you through the grieving process or make the process proceed any faster. Brainstorm ideas for how you and your teen can best support people who are grieving.
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