13 Reasons Why, Netflix's controversial yet wildly successful teen drama, has managed to sink even lower than last season's rapist apology tour.
All season, the show teased a funeral for one of the characters. In the series finale episode, it's revealed that Justin (a fan favorite played by out actor Brandon Flynn) is the one who died.
Cause of death? AIDS.
Yep, you read that correctly, a teenager died after developing AIDS ... in 2020. Apparently, he became HIV-positive from his years of drug use and prostitution but was never tested. Though untreated HIV normally takes nearly a decade to progress into AIDS, it was only a matter of months for Justin. How convenient is that?
And to clear this bit of semantics up, people don't die of AIDS. They die of AIDS complications, "opportunistic infections" from a weakened immune system as a result of having AIDS. Specificity and accuracy are important here when we're talking about removing societal stigmas.
Needless to say, fans aren't happy.
In 2020, HIV isn't a death sentence. When properly treated, many people who have the virus are able to lower the amount of it in their body to the point that it's undetectable, which means they can't transmit it to other people. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that in 2017. Many people who are HIV-positive are not only living but thriving.
In a time where so many people living with HIV still face discrimination and stigma, it's irresponsible for Netflix to perpetuate stereotypes. But what can we expect from a consistently problematic series that introduced a gay character, sent him to prison for his violent sodomization of a classmate in the season prior, had him murdered by a prison mate, then had some random British girl swoop in and frame him for a separate murder the leads of the show committed, all in fewer than five episodes?
There is a silver lining in all of this. It's over. We can finally wake up from this nightmare of a series. It can't torment us anymore. We can finally know peace.