The national Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC) of New Zealand has created a brand new rating that forbids viewers under 18 to watch Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why without adult supervision. In addition, the country’s censor requested that the series contains warnings at the beginning and end of every episode.
The controversy surrounding the show, which revolves around a student who killed herself after having recorded the 13 reasons that led to her fatal decision on audio tapes, has reached such a level that censors around the world seems to have no choice but to tackle serious decisions in order to preserve the mental wellness of young audiences.
After several warnings were issued by psychologists and youth mental health associations over the graphic content featured in the series, including the depiction of a suicide, bullying and sexual assaults, New Zealand’s official cultural censorship body qualified the Netflix original’s content has “objectionable.”
In an effort to protect young viewers from being exposed to what they consider “real risks”, the OFLC has therefore created the new rating, RP18, which was never used before (only restrictions for young people under 13 and 16 existed at this point).
Co-produced by Selena Gomez – who said she was “very proud” of the show – 13 Reasons Why is the adaptation of a 2007 novel written by Jay Asher which follows the tragic fate of Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford), a high school scholar who, after going through a series of humiliations and aggressions brought on by other students, will eventually see no other escape than to take her own life. Although it’s known from the beginning that Hannah is dead, the audience can follow her path to suicide through audio tapes discovered by her friend Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette), each one detailing a reason why she killed herself.
Even though several mental health foundations have recognized that the widely popular series is an opportunity to raise awareness around youth suicide and mental health, opinions stay divided around the globe with regard to the fact that being exposed to “graphic or sensationalized accounts of death” could represent a “risk factors that youth struggling with mental health conditions cite as a reason they contemplate or attempt suicide.”
Despite the debate surrounding the show, Netflix is reportedly about to renew 13 Reasons Why for a second season, with the writers room of the series having been working on the new project for a few weeks, already.