The Parents Television Council (PTC), an organization that aims to protect families against sex, violence, and profanity in media, has issued a statement urging Netflix to cancel its controversial teen drama “13 Reasons Why.” The group argues the show should be “pulled from Netflix entirely because of the potentially harmful content.”
The Netflix series has earned backlash across its two seasons for depicting graphic violence and abuse. PTC president Tim Winter calls the show “a ticking time bomb” for teenage viewers. The statement was made following the debut of Season 2, which ends with both a potential school shooting and a brutal rape scene featuring forced sodomy.
“Netflix has delivered a ticking time bomb to teens and children who watch ’13 Reasons Why,'” Winter said. “The content and thematic elements of the second season are even worse than we expected. We would have liked to have 13 reasons for hope and redemption following the graphic suicide of the lead female teen character, but rather than providing a path forward, the season only provides cause for despondency.”
“If you come into the series with feelings of hopelessness or depression, you’ll never walk away from the series feeling any better,” added PTC program director Melissa Henson. “If you’re not feeling that way, the series will make you feel hopeless and depressed. For kids who are already at risk, who are being bullied or abused, the show may only serve to trigger those feelings and create dangerous real-life circumstances.”
The PTC warns parents they should “be alert and on guard” in the weeks ahead as their children binge the second season. Winter said the main problem with the series is that Netflix specifically targets young demographics such as teenagers to be the primary audience. Netflix and “13 Reasons Why” creator Brian Yorkey have taken measures to ensure the safety of their viewers by issuing content warnings before episodes, but Winter said that just proves the show really is dangerous.
“The unfortunate reality is that the show is clearly produced for young viewers despite being rated for mature audiences,” Winter said. “The fact that Netflix would point back to its website for those needing crisis intervention after watching the show demonstrates the company’s belief that at-risk viewers will need crisis intervention. Ironically, the entire crux of the show demonstrates that crisis intervention doesn’t really matter because the system doesn’t work to protect children from harm.”
Yorkey has defended the Season 2 finale rape scene, which is causing the most controversy from the new batch of episodes. The creator said the scene was decided on after extensive talks with Netflix and the show’s producer, Paramount, and he argued that the sexual abuse depicted in the episode is based on real stories and minor compared to the real pain abuse victims suffer. Yorkey said depicting such acts of abuse is better than being silent about them.
“13 Reasons Why” is now streaming on Netflix. You can read the PTC’s full statements against the series on their official website.