13 Reasons Why season 3 finally dropped on Netflix and like most people, I spent the majority of my weekend binge-watching all 13 episodes.
The season follows the aftermath of Bryce Walker’s outing as the school’s rapist and how the students at Liberty High deal with the news.
Like a lot of students, Jessica (one of Bryce’s victims) wants to use the situation to change the sexist culture at the school. But her plans are soon derailed when a group of sexual assault victims and allies come along.
The leader of the group is Casey, a rape victim and what some might consider a “radical” feminist. While her anger is justified, her actions are hardly productive and are ultimately insensitive to other victims like Jessica and Tyler.
When she proposes protesting at Bryce Walker’s funeral, Jessica tells her it isn’t a good idea and Tyler questions whether “dancing on someone’s grave” is necessary. Casey responds by calling Jessica a victim instead of a survivor and tries to silence Tyler by questioning whether he even belongs in the group.
Throughout the season, Casey completely disregards Jessica’s feelings and even goes so far as to insult the progress she’s made since her assault. She’s offensive and a poor representation of a modern-day feminist. Her jokes about stabbing the jocks of the school and getting rid of all men spread the false narrative that feminists aren’t about equality, but rather about taking down men.
Casey isn’t the only problematic character, however. The show’s new narrator Ani starts out as a likable character with a charming British accent and a refreshing wit. But despite working closely with Clay on cracking the case of who killed Bryce, she quickly becomes a rape apologist and starts defending him.
We soon find out that Ani’s mother works for the Walker family and lives with them. Ani begins to have a sexual relationship with Bryce even though she’s close friends with Jessica and knows everything Bryce has done to her and the other girls.
But it’s Ani’s own hypocrisy that’s truly worrisome. Ani is working with closely Jessica on her presidential campaign, which is entirely based on smashing the patriarchy. It even uses Bryce as the poster child for rape culture. And yet, at the same time, she’s constantly making excuses for Bryce’s actions and insisting that he can change. (Not to mention that sleeping with your friend’s rapist is just plain wrong.)
Even when Bryce is at his worst around Ani, she comes to his defense. At one point, he throws a glass of expensive liquor (because there’s no such thing as an age limit in 13 Reasons) and Ani tells his mother he’s just tired and frustrated. She then tells viewers, “that’s why I think it must be hard to be a boy because they still have no idea what a man is.”
Sure, the process of evolving from a boy to a man can be tough, but that doesn’t give anyone a license to assert their male dominance by raping women. Bryce Walker was only sorry when he was caught and while his death was controversial, women like Ani refusing to hold him accountable only means that more men will feel like it’s ok to do these things to women.
In a world where feminism is constantly misunderstood, characters like Casey and Ani only fuel the fire. These characters may have been created to show the different side of feminism but until we have enough positive representation onscreen, these characters only serve to hurt the movement.