Major spoilers for 13 Reasons Why Season 2 ahead. After an outcry from fans, Brian Yorkey, the creator of 13 Reasons Why, is defending the brutal sexual assault that's featured in Season 2, according to Vulture. The scene, which appears in the finale, shows Tyler being sexually assaulted by another male student. It's a horrific, hard-to-watch scene, but Yorkey said it was important to show because "talking about it is so much better than silence." But not everyone agrees with Yorkey's decision and many have taken to Twitter to question the brutality of the scene. (Bustle reached out to Netflix for comment on the backlash, but did not receive an immediate response.)
In the season finale, Tyler is brutally assaulted by three students, who are on the baseball team with Bryce. He's beaten up, and then one sodomizes him with a mop handle. This assault leaves Tyler traumatized, so much so, that he shows up to the school dance with plans to carry out a mass shooting.
In a statement, Yorkey told Vulture that he did research on real cases of sexual assault against high school-aged men to make sure the scene was realistic. While some may think it went too far, Yorkey said it wasn't done gratuitously, but in an "unflinching way" that gets at what teens are really experiencing.
Yorkey told Vulture that this scene is representative of what the show does, and this season they added trigger warnings to help viewers decide if the show is right for them. If it is too much for viewers, Yorkey said they shouldn't watch. But he does hope they will, so that more people will start talking about this topic. Yorkey stated:
"But the fact is that, as intense as that scene is, and as strong as are or reactions to it may be, it doesn’t even come close to the pain experienced by the people who actually go through these things. When we talk about something being 'disgusting' or hard to watch, often that means we are attaching shame to the experience. We would rather not be confronted with it. We would rather it stay out of our consciousness. This is why these kinds of assaults are underreported. This is why victims have a hard time seeking help. We believe that talking about it is so much better than silence.”
Not everyone agreed, though. While some believed the first season 13 Reasons Why was an honest look at suicide and sexual assault, many believed Season 2 was trying too hard to shock its viewers. "Has it been long enough that we can talk about how exploitative and irresponsible the #13ReasonsWhy season two finale was?" @CarolineSiede tweeted.
Meanwhile, @CallieCalburn tweeted, "AFTER THAT BRUTAL SCENE WITH THE MOP AND TYLER, THIS SHOW NEEDS TO BE CANCELLED. Obviously the people behind this show only gives a f*ck about shock value and not about rape or suicide."
There were others who were concerned about what the show was trying to say about the connection between bullying and mass shooters. "#13ReasonsWhy season 2 *literally* ends by depicting that if someone is just *nicer* to a white male potential mass murderer, they won’t murder," @Felbeth3 wrote. "Sure, let’s end with #victimblaming in a show addressing #metoo, #rapeculture, #maleviolence, #toxicmasculinity and #suicide."
Someone else agreed. "Oh and the apologism for 'bullied school shooters.' No, just no," @HorrorShowFlick wrote. "The problem is #toxicmasculinity and #maleviolence and #misogyny, not that people aren’t nice enough to mass murderers. Gross misstep."
There are others, though, like Yorkey, who think Tyler's story is important to see. "Everyone is complaining about the graphic scene in the last episode of #13ReasonsWhy season 2," one fan @Hello_Its_Lee wrote. "Yes, it was extremely graphic and horrible. I’m not sure how I feel about it. BUT if you think that was 'too much,' remember that EXACT thing has happened to several high schoolers."
Another person, @Arlette18209575, wrote, "Season 2 of #13ReasonsWhy hit so many points, and yes some scenes where uncomfortable but that was the main point, people need to stop trying to cover topics like this up, producers did an amazing job with this and spreading awareness."
With its first season, 13 Reasons Why has established that it isn't afraid to get at the brutal, but honest truth about teen issues. But, sometimes there is a limit of how far fans are willing to go. Yorkey may not feel the same way and will continue to push the limits with this story, but you can choose not to watch if it goes too far. For many, the Season 2 finale did.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit hotline.rainn.org.
If you or someone you know are experiencing suicidal thoughts, call 911, or call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.