*Warning: Spoiler alerts ahead*
This is going to be a looooong post boys.
I’m sure you or someone you know has finished watching or is in the process of watching Netflix’s new series “13 Reasons Why.” This show brought about so much controversy and many battles of opinions all over the internet. Everyone is taking about Hannah Baker.
It took me about 2 weeks to finish the show and to be quite honest, as a whole I did not like it too much. Every episode made me feel more and more uncomfortable and uneasy. They portray everything so raw and true. It’s genius in that sense because issues such as bullying, rape, and suicide are SUPPOSED to make you feel uncomfortable. For those who have never experienced any of the issues outlined in the show, the producers really wanted to cater to those viewers so they at least have an insight to what a person undergoing such horrible things could feel and experience. When I finally finished I didn’t feel accomplished or any justice for Hannah. I just felt gross.
What I did appreciate about the series was that this was probably the first show to appeal to a teen audience about everyday issues that happen in high school. People are bullied in secret every single day whether it be physical or emotional – something Hannah Baker both experienced. As a person who is sometimes afraid to speak up and uses confidence and humour to hide feelings, Hannah’s personality is very relatable.
It features 13 different people who were supposedly “responsible” for Hannah’s death however we fail to piece together that they were also going through their own battles, some even worse than what Hannah went through. Some of the biggest examples I noticed were:
- Justin Foley on the outside was a confident and popular jock with many friends and a girlfriend but was dealing with abuse at home and a broken family.
- In contrast, Hannah had a very supportive and loving family but not very many friends that actually stuck by her. Technically she did have many friends but in different groups during certain periods of time – which happens a lot in high school. I found it kind of odd however, how she seemed to be liked by EVERYONE but made it a real point that she had no one. She really had no serious issues with anyone except for the basketball team.
- Alex Standall was an interesting character. I pictured him as the “popular outsider” who made it in with the basketball jocks. What we all failed to realize (at least for me) was that he was progressively going through deep depression and suicidal thoughts. Could it be because of Hannah’s tapes? Probably. We also get a glimpse of what family life is like at home and how he is not able to fully trust and please his father, who is the Sheriff of the town. In my opinion, Alex’s suicide at the end came as a shock because no one noticed any of his signs that were so blatantly obvious. Everyone was too busy worrying about Hannah’s tapes and playing the blame game.
- CAN WE PLEASE TALK ABOUT TYLER DOWN?!?!?! At the end with his trunk full of ammunition, this boy is planning a school shooting because of all the bullying he went through and no one to stand up for him. Unbelievable.
Overall, the main reason why this show confused me was for two reasons.
- They play the blame game. For the entire series, viewers are mislead to believe that a single person or multiple people are responsible for someone’s suicide. They use “We ALL killed Hannah Baker” at the end as if it was some sort of conclusion to the story. I think that there are many factors and people that can drive someone to go into depression and off the edge but ultimately it is THEIR DECISION to end their OWN life. Hannah tried at the end to reach out for help but didn’t get any. She never confided in anyone, even Clay, BUT THERE WAS SO MUCH MORE SHE COULD HAVE DONE THEN PLOT AND MAKE 13 TAPES BLAMING PEOPLE FOR AN INTERNAL DECISION SHE MADE. This premise supports the idea that there is always liability when someone commits suicide. Yes, kindness is a big thing when it comes to treating people right but it doesn’t “fix” suicidal thoughts that could be building up or permanent. We should be more aware of the actual subtle signs and trying to get actual professional help for suicidal/depressed people rather than thinking that simply being kind is going to help and that’s it. There is so much more we can do to help if we learn to be smart about it and educate ourselves.
- How much power Hannah had after her death. All I was waiting for was to see the episode where Hannah finally did it… as if her suicide was the big climax of the story and I am ashamed of that. Suicide is not cool or glamorous and it bothered me how the show can romanticize this issue. Everyone was intrigued by Hannah and devoted themselves to try and understand her thoughts – of course only after she committed suicide. The 13 people in her life are guilt-stricken and hate themselves for pushing her over the edge, and that is exactly what her motive was going forward with the tapes. I believe that the aftermath of the suicide was unrealistic because it can show how being a victim can make you a hero and you now have the power to hurt the people who hurt you without actually physically hurting them. People who are thinking of committing suicide might be more inclined to now because of that point and that is d a n g e r o u s.
All in all, if you struggle with your mental health, this show might TRIGGER you. Please think deeply before you watch it (if you haven’t already) or to who you’re recommending it to. The show doesn’t actually touch on mental illness or depression, it’s merely the story of a young girl who went through it. The show focuses more on bullying and types of bullying that occurs in this generation. While bullying and other external circumstances can contribute to suicide, the show missed on the opportunity, especially at the end, to further discuss the underlying cause.
This post is just my opinion and is meant to open up discussion because I need people to talk about this with!! I do not mean for this to be a conclusive judgement whatsoever. If you loved the show, if it helped you, if it moved you and touched you, I am happy for you! And if you need someone to talk to, I am here for you 🙂
Featured Photo from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EdNWbBM0DlI