"No one scene is more important than the life of the show, and its message that we must take better care of each other," says series showrunner Brian Yorkey.
Never let it be said that studios don't listen to public outcry, even if it may take them a bit of time to respond. Nevertheless, Netflix has made a retroactive change to one of the more disturbing scenes ever broadcast on one of the streamer's own shows, taking to social media to explain why the change was made.
Nearly two-and-a-half years after the scene first disturbed viewers and parents and mental health professionals and just about everyone, Netflix has finally gone back and drastically edited down the suicide scene from the first season of "13 Reasons Why." Meanwhile, the third season of the show is expected to drop later this summer.
As delayed as it is, the timing and the move do make sense in an era when television is exclusively on-demand. As soon as Netflix starts promoting the upcoming season, many fans who never gave the show a chance may choose to binge-watch the first two seasons, while many fans will choose a re-watch in anticipation of the new season dropping.
Shows don't disappear like they used to, and so an episode from way back in Season 1 on a streaming service holds an immediacy and a relevancy absent their network counterparts.
Still, many online critics were disappointed that it took the streamer this long to finally acknowledge and do something about a scene they've been hearing criticism about for over two year now.
Consider this your Spoiler Warning for the first season of "13 Reasons Why," as well as a warning that the following description may be disturbing for some readers.
The scene in question involved the extremely graphic suicide of Katherine Langford's Hannah. In it, she is seen cutting open her wrists and the scene lingers with her through several painful minutes as she bleeds out and ultimately dies.
In the newly edited version, the scene cuts from Hannah looking at herself in the mirror prior to getting into the bathtub to the moment that her mother (Kate Walsh) finds her lifeless body. Still effective and affecting, but not nearly as graphic or disturbing.
A statement from our show creator Brian Yorkey. pic.twitter.com/J6XiD9LVkU— 13 Reasons Why (@13ReasonsWhy) July 16, 2019
"It was our hope, in making 13 Reasons Why into a television show, to tell a story that would help young viewers feel seen and heard, and encourage empathy in all who viewed it, much as the best-selling book did before us," said showrunner Brian Yorkey. "Our creative intent in portraying the ugly, painful reality of suicide in such graphic detail in season one was to tell the truth about the horror of such an act, and make sure no one would ever wish to emulate it."
He went on to address the outcry the show has received and explained that the re-edit was agreed upon because "no one scene is more important than the life of the show, and its message that we must take better care of each other. We believe this edit will help the show do the most good for the most people while mitigating any risk for especially vulnerable young viewers."
Despite the criticism and warnings from mental health professionals, fans on social media were of two minds about the new edit. Some were in support of the decision, while others disagreed with removing the powerful scene that showed the brutality of suicide so graphically. You can check out some of those varied responses, and their reasoning, below:
Media has no issues showing murders, rape, violence, and worse harm than what was depicted in this scene. All because it’s self-harm, rather than to another person... it’s more inappropriate? People are just not used to it, but that’s exactly what we need to break the pattern.— Desiree Elderkin (@desireeangel6) July 16, 2019
It's never to late..if it saves one person's life. If suicide prevention professionals contacted them then they must've been really concerned abt copycat suicides like when a kid at a high school dz it, other kids follow suit.— BADASSBLIZZARD (@Angelabaker17) July 16, 2019
As someone who has attempted suicide 2 times in my life. If you believe you are “helping” anyone by editing how graphic suicide is. You are so delusional. You are turning a show that could help so many young viewers into just another normal teenage series pic.twitter.com/qcHtQ827JV— Michelle 🏳️🌈🦋#CPTSD (@2tacosonelatte) July 16, 2019
As the daughter of a victim of suicide the scene mentioned was very graphic and difficult for me to watch. I imagine it would be difficult regardless. I’m very happy to hear that the scene has been removed and is putting survivors and family member of suicide first. @netflix— Brittney Marlowe (@Buggany) July 16, 2019
I personally don't think the scene glorified suicide, but showed the reality of it. A shame @13ReasonsWhy have not stood by thier convictions in doing the scene and it will now be censored. Perhaps there should be 2 options available to view for that episode edited/censored.— Paul Borer 🏳️🌈 (@pbmcmlxxi) July 16, 2019
I wholeheartedly disagree w/ this decision. Almost everyone I know has been affected by suicide, I lost my amazing brother this way. We need to stop talking about suicide in a low whisper & amp up conversations & facilities about mental health. Suicide is real & happening.— 🐺🐉🏰 Wendy Gardner 🌴🧜⚓ (@WendyWoowoo22) July 16, 2019
But that's already the show. Do we really need a graphic depictin of suicide in order to have that conversation? We just buried a loved one who took his own life this past weekend and I will say, no. We certainly do not.— miriad endgame spoilers ahead- BEWARE (@miriad) July 16, 2019
Thank god for you editing it. Shouldn’t have been in it anyway. Honestly showing the act can cause more people to feel suicidal. It doesn’t help in anyway.— Cat G.A. (@Like_A_CatGA) July 16, 2019
People who are depressed do not need to see a person commit suicide and they most certainly do not a show where the whole premise is basically a girl using her suicide as prop get back in a way at the people who hurt her, bottom line this shows fucked up— ☂️robbie sheehan☂️ (@246XTUA) July 16, 2019
This scene finally helped me talk to my parents. This scene opened their eyes. The entire point was to start the conversation and it did ! Why change it now ? Why sugarcoat it?— @KIMBYRR ON IG 💋 (@kimbyrr) July 16, 2019
Thank you. As someone who used to self harm, that scene was extremely “triggering “.— am baby (@maddyelric) July 16, 2019
Its disrespectful not to show the gruesomeness, sadness and pain of the suicide. Its supposed to be upsetting and guttural, the show was incredible and devastating. Editing the scene will make it easier to watch and not show the realism and suffering of an event like this.— Aaron B. (@aaron_equus21) July 16, 2019
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