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13 Reasons Why: I Was Disappointed

Kaelin Rowell, Messenger Reporter

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Recently, I have taken an interest in the viral Netflix original: 13 Reasons Why.  The adaptation of Jay Asher’s 2007 novel Thirteen Reasons Why revolves around twelve teenagers who piece together tapes left behind by Hannah Baker to find out why she committed suicide. On the tapes, she tells her story of how she had to deal with sexual harassment, rumors, slut-shaming, and rape. The tapes are delivered in order to those who appear on them, the latest being Clay Jensen, the main character.

The show does not focus so much on Hannah, but instead Clay, who was in love with Hannah before she died. It was hard to watch him go through the tapes and watch him wonder what he possibly could have done differently.

Starting the show, I was struck by its emotional appeal. There is a cruel irony in the fact that all 13 episodes are released at once, leaving viewers with a choice to make:  to slowly work our way through the tapes, like Clay, or to binge watch them like everyone else.

Suicide is going to be a hard topic to talk about either way. You are either going to be close minded about the situation or not cover the sincerity of the issue enough at all. I believe 13 Reasons Why did well in showing how a person’s suicide can have implications on the lives of others but did not show that suicide is a consequence of depression.

The suicide scene itself is almost too difficult to watch. To its credit, it contains no montages or music and leaves the audience to deal with it as it is, but this was extremely triggering and horrible to witness. In my opinion, watching a teenager slit her wrists in no way prevents kids that watch it from preventing suicide, it actually could provoke it. I absolutely hated how the adults of this show treated the suicide and minimized the importance in order to avoid a bullying lawsuit brought on by Hannah’s parents. Also, it is seen multiple times of Hannah being told to “get over it” which I did not like at all.

I have to give credit to the realness of some parts of the show, though. In this show, you see teenagers struggle with many of the issues we struggle with today: sexuality, bullying, and other pressures that make the teenage life that much harder. It also does not emphasize the typical stereotypes seen on teen television, such as the dumb blonde and nerdy Asian.

I have to give the show credit. It was good overall in showing how suicide can affect a school and how it is important to be nice to everyone before it was too late. Although I wish they could have dealt with the suicide of Hannah Baker differently, I appreciated the show’s attempt to make it seem real. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the show and did not at any point get bored. If you are okay with how the show depicts suicide, I do recommend 13 Reasons Why.

 

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