Netflix's 13 Reasons Why, a show based around the suicide of a teenaged girl and the events leading up to her death, was always fated to spark some sort of conversation. Upon its release, the streaming service and showrunners who adapted the material from the best-selling young adult novel by Jay Asher anticipated it was necessary to include a post-series PSA, Beyond the Reasons, featuring the cast, showrunners, and mental health professionals explaining how to get help, and content warnings for three episodes, on top of adding a pre-first-episode advisory about a month after its debut. But they probably hoped the series would inspire more conversation around the reality of mental illness in teens and the necessity of seeking help -- rather than the flaws of the show itself, of which critics found many.
Now in July 2019, over two years since Season 1 was released, Netflix quietly re-edited its most controversial episode, as first reported by The Hollywood Reporter, that depicted the main character Hannah's (Katherine Langford) suicide on-screen. Meaning, the scene showing her death was excised from the episode and instead features a clip of Langford contemplatively looking in the mirror before cutting to her parents' reaction. So, were you to watch the episode for the first time today, it would appear as if its always been shot like this -- but if you were to rewatch it, that's quite a big change from the original scene that explicitly showed the teenaged character slitting her wrists and wincing in pain for several minutes.
It certainly is important that Netflix decided to make such a drastic change to a graphic scene that has already reached millions of impressionable young people and has the capability of reaching more -- but it's also a decision that seems like it came too late. While Netflix may be increasingly sensitive to the original content that it's releasing, it shouldn't be in retrospect -- years later! -- that they're thinking about how impactful and potentially damaging upsetting imagery can be.