The Netflix original series "13 Reasons Why" has been a source of major contention since debuting in 2017. On the one hand, critics argue the show glorifies suicide, while proponents say it does the exact opposite. The critics were bolstered by some disturbing trends that took off after the show's release: Google searches on "how to commit suicide," for example, have jumped 26%.
Regardless of the controversy, the show has filmed and released two seasons and has signed on for a third. Responding to a parenting group that warned the show's makers will have "the blood of children on their hands," Netflix CEO Reed Hastings defended the show, saying, "nobody has to watch it."
"13 Reasons Why has been enormously popular and successful. It’s engaging content," Hastings said during the company’s annual shareholder meeting. "It is controversial. But nobody has to watch it."
Parents Television Council called Hasting's response "callous" and launched an online petition demanding that Neflix provide an option for subscribers to keep the show off of their feeds.
“[Hastings] is ostensibly proclaiming that financial gain for Netflix trumps the real life consequences of his programming," said PTC President Tim Winter. "Is that what Mr. Hastings and Netflix stand for in today’s world of #MeToo, whereby women who are sexually harassed in the workplace are told ‘nobody has to work here'? Is that his opinion on marketing tobacco to children, or for other dangerous products that enter the stream of commerce and cause injury or death, that ‘nobody needs to buy it'?"
"Netflix has delivered a ticking time bomb to teens and children who watch 13 Reasons Why. The content and thematic elements of the second season are even worse than we expected," Winter continued. "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."
Winter concluded that the show ultimately glorifies teen violence in a way that is dangerous.
"We condemn Netflix for renewing its teen-targeted suicide drama 13 Reasons Why. The company already potentially has the blood of children on their hands from keeping this series – with its graphic suicide scene, its sodomization of a teen boy and a potential school shooting, among other adult content – on its platform for children to view," Winter concludes.
Netflix suffered a $39 million loss in 2017 after the #MeToo movement alleged that "House of Cards" star Kevin Spacey had a history of sexually harassing men on set.