Fans of Netflix drama 13 Reasons Why have reacted angrily to a problematic plot twist in the show’s fourth and final season, saying the show’s writers have missed an opportunity to help educate viewers.
The show aired all 10 of its final episodes on Friday (5 June), with actor Devin Druid saying: “We were really fortunate that Netflix gave us the opportunity to have this many seasons and write an actual ending. Not every show has that same luxury, so I’m really grateful.”
However, fans have spoken out about a story development in the show’s final ever episode – once again igniting controversy around the shows handling of sensitive subjects.
**This story contains season four spoilers**
After starting the season by teasing viewers with a flash-forward to a mystery funeral, it eventually transpires that the victim is Justin Foley, played by Brandon Flynn.
Foley is a recovering heroin addict, and dies after contracting HIV, which develops into AIDS. The show also sees a doctor suggest that his needle usage and time spent as a sex worker, both while homeless, were to blame – adding to the heavy criticism drawn from 13 Reasons Why viewers.
Dear @13ReasonsWhy: Your HIV/AIDS story line with Justin, the ONE character with a truly redeemable arc on this show, would have been a great opportunity to show HIV/AIDS isn’t a death sentence in the 21st century. I have tolerated a *lot* of unnecessary storylines & plots (1/2)
— mikebross🏳️🌈 (@mbross44) June 6, 2020
ok ONE more post bc I AM SO SO UPSET
You had a character that struggled with drug addiction + homelessness FINALLY gets a loving family and a shot at a bright future and you… kill him off with AIDS??? ARE YOU SERIOUS?????#13reasonswhy4 #13ReasonsWhy pic.twitter.com/iAnVtUsIRR
— QUINN HOPP Ⓥ (@qhopp) June 6, 2020
Well done for setting HIV/AIDs discourse back 30 years.
— Rees Johnson LLM (@reesojohnson) June 6, 2020
“Your HIV/AIDS story line with Justin, the ONE character with a truly redeemable arc on this show, would have been a great opportunity to show HIV/AIDS isn’t a death sentence in the 21st century,” one person tweeted.
“You had a character that struggled with drug addiction + homelessness FINALLY gets a loving family and a shot at a bright future and you… kill him off with AIDS??? ARE YOU SERIOUS?????” another wrote.
One user simply commented: “Well done for setting AIDS/HIV discourse back 30 years.”
13 Reasons Why, which is based on Jay Asher’s YA 2007 novel of the same name, was initially intended to only last for one season, but showrunner Brian Yorkey then developed further seasons to continue the original story.
Last year, Netflix edited a controversial scene from the season one finale of the show, which saw character Hannah (played by Katherine Langford) taking her own life, which prompted mental health activists to voice concerns that the scene could lead to copycat suicides among teenagers.