CNN's Brian Lowry reports that Season 2 of "13 Reasons Why" offers fewer reasons to watch than Season 1, but it is unclear whether he (along with many other viewers) cared for Season 1 in the first place. The action in Season 1 focuses on a set of audiotapes in which a young woman, Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford), provides 13 reasons for her suicide.

Season 1 explores the causes of a teen suicide

The mysterious circumstances underlying Hannah's decision to commit suicide unravel slowly, but in a way that creates suspense for the viewer. Very rarely does a mystery focus on the reasons for a suicide; usually, they mystery as to the identify a killer.

In Season 1 of "13 Reasons Why," we are left distinctly with the impression that any number of the characters is somehow morally and ethically responsible for Hannah's suicide, and had they taken different, more compassionate, less self-centered actions, they might have helped Hannah survive the extreme trauma of assault that she endured alone. In other words, the mystery ends leaving us with the impression that each of the central characters is implicated in Hannah's death.

The central message of the series seems to be that we share a collective responsibility to build a culture of empathy and understanding and to move beyond cultural systems that lead to isolation and hopelessness. High school especially can be a trying experience for many people, and society as a whole can become a killer of those who suffer through acts of cruelty without assistance and support.

Some critics, however, do not agree that the message of a series is worth getting out. Kelly Lawler of USA Today calls Season 1 and Season 2 "insufferable," and further remarks the series was criticized for "potentially misinforming about mental health and suicide." This may or may not be true. But the overall message of "13 Reasons Why" seems to be a compassionate one; suicide is viewed as a consequence of cultural patterns of cruelty that could be undone.

Season 2 provides new perspectives

Season 2 of "13 Reasons Why" will delve further into the world of cruelty and isolation that, in effect, produced Hannah Baker's suicide. Season 2 starts a few months after Season 1 ends, and according to Variety, focuses on the civil case in which Hannah Baker's parents are suing Liberty High School for damages, primarily for not protecting Hannah from bullying and for not seeing and acting upon her suicide risk.

Variety also reports that the new season, rather than focusing on Hannah's narrative on audiotapes, explores the perspectives through the narratives of the teachers and students who were present during Hannah's final days. This leads to an interesting inversion of the original, in which we saw the world from Hannah Baker’s perspective. Now, we will see the Liberty High School culture through the eyes of the very people Hannah felt were responsible for her suicide. In other words, we will get a window into the mindset of those who participated in (and could change) the very culture of cruelty and isolation that fostered Hannah's death. Season 2 of "13 Reasons Why" should make for some interesting viewing, and could teach us some valuable lessons about the need for a more compassionate and empathetic culture. Netflix will release Season 2 on May 18.