Netflix pledged to add more warnings before its series 13 Reasons Why after controversy over the show’s depiction of suicide and other tough topics.
The drama — based on Jay Asher’s 2007 best-selling YA novel — begins after the death of high school student Hannah Baker (played by Katherine Langford) and centers on 13 cassette tapes she leaves behind that each detail a reason why she took her own life. The show already has warnings that are shown before three episodes that depict graphic scenes of sexual assault and suicide, but the streaming site vowed to add another warning before the start of the series, which premiered on March 31 and is executive produced by Selena Gomez.
“While many of our members found the show to be a valuable driver for starting important conversation with their families, we have also heard concern from those who feel the series should carry additional advisories,” Netflix said in a statement, per The Hollywood Reporter. “Currently the episodes that carry graphic content are identified as such and the series overall carries a TV-MA rating. Moving forward, we will add an additional viewer warning card before the episode as an extra precaution for those about to start the series.”
Netflix also plans to “strengthen the messaging and resource language in the existing cards for episodes that contain graphic subject matter,” the statement said. The network already developed a website 13ReasonsWhy.info, which has resources to help anyone struggling with some of the serious topics presented in the show.
Gomez, 24, has also defended 13 Reasons Why amid claims that the show glamorizes teen suicide and fails to address mental health as a leading cause of suicide. “We stayed very true to the book and that’s initially what Jay Asher created, [which] was a beautifully tragic, complicated yet suspenseful story, and I think that’s what we wanted to do,” the actress-singer told the Associated Press. “We wanted to do it justice and, yeah, [the backlash is] going to come no matter what. It’s not an easy subject to talk about, but I’m very fortunate with how it’s doing.”