It's finally here, but fans aren't happy with the season's biggest change.
We knew it would attract some controversy, but this time we really weren't expecting the reason...
Netflix continues its streak of success by delivering the hotly anticipated third season of Brian Yorkey's teen drama series 13 Reasons Why. It first arrived in 2017 and attracted immediate buzz, but many were also quick to point out that its depiction of suicide and other sensitive subject matter could prove too much for some audiences.
Addressing the issue, warning cards were actually added, and just in time too, because the second season was released in 2018 to prompt further fan divide. There's no denying that the show's refusal to shy away from difficult topics is what makes it so imperative, but of course, when you're dealing with distressing content in an otherwise popular and accessible show, there are bound to be issues.
Season 3 isn't quite so controversial, or rather, not for these sorts of reasons. Nevertheless, a number of fans have taken issue with a significant change...
Netflix's 13 Reasons Why: Ani
Sometimes introducing a new character can throw the narrative out of balance, but making them so integral can prove downright alienating.
This appears to be the case with 13 Reasons Why. Social media has been rife with fans wishing Hannah (or indeed, anyone else) had reprised the role of narrator because the latest season sees Ani (played by Grace Saif) take up the mantle. The problem with this is she's totally new to the audience, and we have to get to know her in flashbacks; also, her views on Bryce aren't exactly a comfort.
The presence of the narrator is one of paramount importance but considering we don't know her it strikes us as a strange decision to make. We're being relayed information by a complete stranger, but the real issue comes with her apparent involvement in the characters lives despite being absent for every preceding episode. It's one thing ushering in a new character but giving them so much prevalence over what's going on is inevitably going to hit a nerve.
Lots of fans on Twitter have branded the narration annoying, and of course, her sudden presence has inspired some pretty funny memes - in 2019, we'd expect nothing less.
Grace Saif as Ani
The emerging character is played by British actress Grace Saif.
According to IMDb, her first starring role was in a short called Wilton back in 2016. However, a year later she landed the role of Angel Hurley in Doctors, the long-running BBC production. These aren't exactly projects we're all familiar with though, or rather, have watched or followed.
If you're a gamer, you may be interested to know that she voiced the character of Abby in 2018's World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth; so far then, we have a short, Doctors and a video-game... an odd mix, for sure. Next up that year, she played Shabs in Amelia Hashemi's short film Night Out, which is a teen drama revolving around one pivotal night. This leads into 13 Reasons Why nicely, and indeed, that was her next - and certainly biggest - role. It's a pretty big jump, and the criticism seems to stem from her character and the writing rather than her performance.
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Why isn’t Jessica, Tony, Sherri, Courtney, Tyler, or literally any other supporting character narrating!? I’d even settle for one of the “not annoying low key drama students” Clay mentions. Because at least they were there... #13ReasonsWhy #13Reasonswhyseason3 #ani #narrator pic.twitter.com/jx9VViW0L8— Alaina Laethem (@alainalaethem) August 24, 2019
Will it work out?
According to Dreshare, the West Sussex actress was mentored by none other than Billie Piper, known for her standout roles on such shows as Doctor Who, Secret Diary of a Call Girl and Penny Dreadful.
It's a shame that her arrival in 13 Reasons Why has been met with such hostility online, and while some comments are opinionative and easy to identify, some are just a little too vicious and exaggerated. Thanks to the reception from fans, we could see big changes occur again in season 4, as it's already been renewed for more episodes.
Hopefully, a compromise will be struck, because it did seem the wrong time to make a new character such an invasive and omniscient presence over the narrative. It was a risk, and in this case, it hasn't paid off.
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