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Film and TV

Final season of 13 Reasons Why sparks fury after ‘traumatising’ queer fans with ‘unnecessary’ HIV twist

Lily Wakefield June 8, 2020
Justin Foley, played by Brandon Flynn, in 13 Reasons Why

Justin Foley, played by Brandon Flynn, in 13 Reasons Why. (Twitter)

The fourth and final season of the ever-controversial 13 Reasons Why has been slammed by queer viewers for a “traumatic” and “irresponsible” HIV/AIDS storyline. Warning – contains spoilers.

The final 10 episodes of 13 Reasons Why were released on Netflix on June 5 and many viewers who have already made to the end are furious.

Season four opens with a funeral, but viewers had to wait until the final episode to discover that it was Justin Foley, played by Brandon Flynn, who had passed away.

Foley, a recovering heroin addict, is revealed to have died from AIDS, either because of his drug use or his time as a sex worker.

13 Reasons Why season four AIDS twist goes for ‘shock value’.

Viewers took to social media to express their anger and frustration over the portrayal of HIV/ AIDS in 13 Reasons Why season four.

One wrote: “Dear 13 Reasons Why: Your HIV/ AIDS story line with Justin, the one character with a truly redeemable arc on this show, would have been a great opportunity to show HIV/AIDS isn’t a death sentence in the 21st century.

“I have tolerated a lot of unnecessary storylines and plots from this TV show. But this one really p**ses me off.

“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 said: “How did this show get four seasons? Killing off a character (played by a gay actor) because they contracted HIV that then turned to AIDS, but not addressing the fact it’s not a death sentence in 2020 is totally irresponsible.”

One Twitter user described the plot twist as “gross”, and added: “As I believe the only gay actor in the series, killing his character via AIDS had to be bothersome and potentially traumatic.”

While some insisted that the character had not known to get tested for HIV, another social media user made an important point.

They wrote: “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 bulls**t on this storyline.”

More: 13 reasons why, AIDS, brandon flynn, HIV, Justin Foley

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