I wish I could limit myself to just 13 reasons why the third season of “13 Reasons Why” is terrible, but there are so many more than that.
After a promising and impactful first season dealing with issues like rape, sexual assault and mental health, this latest season has seen the show devolve into a parody of its former self.
The first two seasons focused on storylines revolving around the rapes of Hannah Baker and Jessica Davis and Hannah’s subsequent suicide.
Initially, I applauded the show for its highly realistic depiction of rape and its psychological aftermath for survivors.
With Hannah’s character exiting as the narrator at the end of the second season, Jessica was the most compelling remaining character and this season could have easily focused on her evolution from victim to empowered survivor.
Instead, the third season primarily revolves around her rapist, Bryce Walker, and his arc from supervillain to a remorseful and broken man searching for redemption.
When Bryce is found murdered, the season attempts to unravel the mystery of his death with almost every character looking like a viable suspect at some point.
Once lauded as an unflinching depiction of the serious issues facing today’s teens, “13 Reasons Why” has strayed far from the course of realism featuring characters who drive impossibly cool cars have perfect hair, rarely seem obligated to ever attend class and seem to invent their own justice system as they go.
By contrast, the best show about teenagers on Netflix is a comedy import from Northern Ireland called “Derry Girls.”
Set in the early 1990s against the sectarian civil war known as The Troubles, “Derry Girls” features a group of 16-year-old girls growing up in Derry, Northern Ireland as they navigate traditional teenage rites of passage like being awkward around boys, school projects and sneaking out to concerts.
Part of the genius of “Derry Girls” is that it contrasts violence of these girls’ surroundings with extremely ordinary events like trying to take the school’s biggest sycophant down a few pegs.
Over the course of two seasons, the Derry girls go through everything from developing crushes on a “hot priest” to accidentally getting family members high on “funny scones” at a wake to seeing the end of 30 years of the brutal conflict surrounding them.
What makes the Derry girls cool is how profoundly uncool they are.
The teens on “13 Reasons Why” seem removed from reality by how painfully cool they are all desperately trying to be.
I saw very little of who my friends and I were in high school in “13 Reasons Why.”
By contrast, the girls from “Derry Girls” are so relatable that I felt retroactively embarrassed for 16-year-old me, in the most enjoyable way possible.