'13 Reasons Why' season 3 ensured a safe space for cast enacting sensitive stories by involving counselors and therapy
From welcoming therapists and nonprofit organizations onboard to having therapy dogs on sets, a lot more than just cutting out the extremely explicit and out-there suicide scene has happened.
Given the sensitive and brutal real issues plaguing teens that Netflix's '13 Reasons Why' portrays, it's not difficult to imagine the toll playing out these scenes might be taking on the actors.
Sure, it's all acting, and at the end of the day, the narrative is for entertainment, but tackling issues like male rape, suicide, and bullying that is shockingly rampant in today's teen culture is a tough task. Especially when eagle-eyed critics are waiting to pounce on the show and the network for any recklessness in the execution of these themes.
But as the show embarks for its third run this Friday, having learned from its past and aiming to create a safe environment for both its viewers and actors, the producers are ensuring proper sensitivity measures and therapy for its cast, to allow them that area of comfort from where such gritty scenes can be played out.
From welcoming therapists and nonprofit organizations onboard their filming to having therapy dogs on sets, '13 Reasons Why' has surely done a lot more than just cut out the extremely explicit and out-there suicide scene of its former protagonist, Hannah Baker, played by Katherine Langford.
And this is something that Hollywood needs to incorporate more often than it has, believes actor Devin Druid, who plays the role of Tyler Down on the show. While it was a suicide scene for Hannah that drew flak for the show, in case of Tyler, the incident of him getting brutally sexually assaulted by a group of his peers in his school's bathroom, where they raped him with a mop, was what got labeled extremely controversial.
Sure, Druid has defended the need for the scene being portrayed so explicitly saying how real-world issues of male rape don't get highlighted in pop-culture as much, he also notes that at the end of the day, things go beyond just acting and entertainment, and this is where the industry needs to take accountability.
"As a narrative, we (the show) have strived to (shed a light). First and foremost it's a TV show for providing entertainment while trying to tell a story, but I think we realized (the need for taking responsibility) very quickly after season one dropped because of how many people latched onto the show and used it as as a way to talk to people, to form social groups with people that they felt safe with. I think we quickly found that (the show) could be used as this vehicle to talk about real-world issues. It could be an entertaining show, wrapped up with these real-world issues that we could talk about with people to start these conversations."
The conversation became all the more interactive for the series, as they opened up a newsletter where people could write in, sharing their experiences with issues similarly harrowing, or just offer words of comfort, and sometimes gratitude for the show for helping their struggles and pain feel represented. A non-profit organization called 'One in Six' also expressed their interest in the show and extended their expertise in working with victims of sexual assault who are 18 years of age or older. But this happened after the second season of the show had already aired and the controversial bathroom rape scene of Tyler's had reportedly led to a spike in the organization's website.
At first clueless, they soon figured out that the increased interest was owing to the second season of the show, and upon realizing the natural and realistic way the show tackled these issues, their appreciation for '13 Reasons Why' made them come on board as consultants for season 3.
"They consulted on every single script, talked about better ways to work things and talk about the issues and made themselves available to me 24/7 for any questions and conversation for the performance," shared Druid. But One in Six isn't the only ones helping and guiding the young cast of the show, most of whom are still in their early twenties.
The show's producers are also so keen on lending that support and guidance for its cast, that they have become almost second mothers to them. Speaking for the rest of the production team of '13 Reasons Why', Druid said, "If we're going to continue to portray things like that and talk about them, we need to be doing a lot of preparation. Mental health is just such an important aspect that's luckily now getting more traction, and it shows how much we have to take care of ourselves and look out for each other with the resources available. We have to be able to look out for each other's needs with mental health, learn the signs, and take care of each other and Hollywood should absolutely follow that. In an industry that's full of a lot of progressive people, it could hopefully happen."
'13 Reasons Why' season 3 premieres this Friday, August 23, only on Netflix.