By Hillary Busis. Photos: Courtesy of Netflix.
It’s looking less and less likely that the Gilmore Girls will return for another trip back to Stars Hollow—but all signs indicate that another Netflix smash initially envisioned as a one-off will get another go on the streaming service after all.
The 13 episodes of 13 Reasons Why told the entirety of the story contained in Jay Asher’s bestselling YA novel—but both its cast and crew are convinced that there’s enough material here for more show, even though it has not yet been technically renewed. “We know there are so many stories that lie beneath each character,” executive producer Selena Gomez has said. Actor Ross Butler, who plays Zach on the series, has been even more frank: “I’m hoping for a second season. . .I’m just crossing my fingers.”
And now it seems Butler may get his wish. TVLine’s Michael Ausiello revealed Thursday night that the actor, who’s currently playing a supporting role on The CW’s Riverdale, will leave that series at the end of its first season; his part will be recast. Showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa told the site that Butler was unavailable to shoot much Riverdale this season “because of his commitments to other projects,” and that he’s “unavailable to come back to Riverdale”—which certainly makes it sound like Butler is keeping his schedule open for more episodes of 13 Reasons. Indeed, Ausiello himself thinks that’s the reason; he calls the Netflix series “a lock to get a Season 2 pickup.”
From Netflix’s perspective, of course, it’s easy to understand returning to the 13 Reasons well. The high school-focused series, which centers on the aftermath of teenager Hannah Baker’s suicide, became a surprise zeitgeist hit shortly after its March release. It’s also proven to have a long tail: like Stranger Things before it, the series is still inspiring conversation and debate even nearly a month after its debut (and has been named 2017’s most tweeted-about show to boot). Renewing the series would also fit right in with Netflix’s tried and true “more is more” philosophy, the same one that’s giving us at least three seasons of Fuller House, and another year of The OA, and more Adam Sandler movies than even Adam Sandler probably dreamed possible. Hell, even the expensive disaster Marco Polo got two full attempts to win over wary viewers before it was finally canceled.
From a creative perspective, though? That’s where things get a bit muddier. Critics have pointed out that the series didn’t really need a full 13 episodes to tell its original story; if the show felt padded out at one season (remember the inexplicable episode where Clay and Tony go rock-climbing?), it’s hard to imagine it finding enough ground to cover in the second—even if its first finale did purposefully leave a few questions unanswered. (Then again: does anyone really want to watch 13 episodes about Bryce’s inevitable rape trial?) More importantly, a second season would be missing the device that made 13 Reasons so compelling to begin with: Hannah’s tapes, which she recorded before she died to explain why she killed herself.
By the end of Season 1, all of the tapes have been played; this means that the show would have to do some fancy footwork to include Hannah’s poignant beyond-the-grave narration in its second season. Bringing Hannah back in some form would undermine the show’s main point—which is that no matter what the other characters do now, they still can’t save her, because she’s gone forever—but it’s difficult to imagine the show continuing without her acting as its fulcrum. 13 Reasons Why is a deeply-felt series about trauma, grief, and the awful finality of suicide. It would be a shame to undercut or dilute that message—even if its numerous fans would likely welcome more episodes with open arms.
This story originally appeared on Vanity Fair.
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