Pop open those tape decks and flip the cassette around, because 13 Reasons Why is coming back—again. Although a third chapter of Netflixs dark, buzzy teen soap might have seemed inevitable, it wasnt entirely a given. Critical reception to the teen dramas sophomore year was not great, and the conversation surrounding the series seemed to die down more quickly this spring than it did when the series debuted last year. Meanwhile, the usual controversies abounded, as some viewers wondered once more whether the show was too explicit and graphic for teenage viewers.
As promised last year, Netflix has also become more cavalier about canceling original series that have run their course; so far in 2018, that list includes Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (which will get a final batch of episodes premiering next year), Everything Sucks!, and Disjointed. Netflix famously does not release viewership numbers, but it still seems safe to assume that enough people watched 13 Reasons Why Season 2 to justify the shows renewal.
According to a release, production on the new season will begin later this year, with a premiere set for 2019. Like both seasons before it, Season 3 will comprise 13 episodes, with creator Brian Yorkey returning as show-runner. Several executive producers, including Selena Gomez, will be returning as well. The way Netflix announced the upcoming season, however, could give skeptics further cause for concern: with a brief, eerie video in which a student opens and closes an innocent-seeming locker as ominous music plays. Its an understandably short clip—but if its any indication of where Season 3 might be headed, it might not be a great sign.
To be fair, we already know that Season 3 will boast one improvement over Season 2: Hannah Baker is not coming back to haunt Clay (and slow the shows plot to a crawl) once again. Still, for a series that has been criticized since its inception for the way it handles heavy material—turning suicide into a mystery to be solved, layering on trauma after trauma after trauma—its a little strange to see this trailer lean so heavily into the shows sinister side. Any teen drama will necessarily feature adolescent malaise—but in response to both Seasons 1 and 2, certain critics decried the shows raw, arguably exploitative approach to topics like suicide and sexual assault. Especially this year, the shows chosen ending—one that left at least one student in serious jeopardy—seemed to indicate that 13 Reasons Why is more invested in suspense than a thoughtful treatment of difficult subjects.
What else can we expect from Season 3? Well, there will definitely be more drama to come. Clay, who (spoiler alert!) ended Season 2 holding the gun a classmate had intended to use to shoot up the school dance, will have to decide what to do—and fast, as the police sirens were already nearing when the season finale came to a close. Bryce, the jock who raped both Hannah and Jessica in Season 1, will still return in Season 3, even after this years court battle—albeit at a different school. (He was given a mere three months probation for his crimes.) Jessica will have to choose between Justin and Alex, two exes whom she appears to still love. And Alex, meanwhile, might be developing feelings for their classmate Zach. Given those dangling threads, it appears there are a lot of questions left for Season 3 to resolve. How dark those answers are could very well shape the way viewers feel about the series as it forges its new, Hannah Baker-less path.
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