13 Reasons Why called out over “offensive” AIDS storyline in season 4

8 June 2020, 17:07 | Updated: 8 June 2020, 17:12

Netflix announce 13 Reasons Why season 4 release date

By Sam Prance

People are criticising 13 Reasons Why for how they include AIDS in the series in the final season.

13 Reasons Why season 4 is facing widespread backlash from Netflix viewers over its use of a controversial AIDS storyline.

Ever since the first season of 13 Reasons Why came out in 2017, it has sparked controversy. People have criticised the teen drama for sensationalising suicide and many other serious issues. Season 1 initially included a graphic depiction of Hannah taking her own life and season 2 still includes an explicit scene in which a character is sexually assaulted with a mop.

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Now, 13 Reasons Why is being slammed over their use of AIDS in the final season which aired on Netflix last week (Jun 5).


13 Reasons Why called out over “offensive” AIDS storyline in season 4
13 Reasons Why called out over “offensive” AIDS storyline in season 4. Picture: Netflix

13 Reasons Why season 4 opens with a flash-forward to a funeral, however, it's only in the last episode that we find out who dies. Episode 9 ends with Justin collapsing at prom. We find out in the season finale that Justin tests HIV positive and that he's dying of AIDS. He contracted it through drug use and working as a sex worker while homeless but never got tested.

The doctors explain that Justin was diagnosed too late for treatment and he passes away shortly before graduation. Viewers are calling out 13 Reasons Why for its "offensive" use of an AIDS storyline. One fan wrote: "You had a real chance here to convey HIV/AIDS in a real, honest, and accurate way but y’all had to go for the shock value unnecessarily once again."

Another viewer added: "It takes about ten years for HIV to progress to AIDS, and life expectancy is on average one to two years after that. So unless Justin was sharing needles or having unprotected sex at the age of six, I call bullshit on this storyline."

As it stands the cast and crew of 13 Reasons Why are yet to address the backlash. We shall update you if they do.

What did you think of Justin's storyline?