“13 Reasons Why” failed in many ways. First, it portrayed suicide as the perfect revenge story or the perfect way to get back at those who did you wrong. It neglects the fact that committing suicide is more a decision made by a person, rather than an inevitable event when pushed too far. Their showing of Hannah slitting her wrists was too graphic and too “here’s how to do it kids” for impressionable teenagers. They put all the blame for her suicide on her bullies and backstabbers, rather than showing Hannah’s own responsibility over her life and the mental state she was in.
Honestly, I stopped watching after episode 11. I couldn’t take it. I couldn’t unsee what I just watched. So I can only imagine what a 14-year-old would do after watching the show. I don’t think that young teens should watch this show, but I do think the more mature adults should.
Through all the articles and posts on social media I’ve read, I recognized a lot of people are saying the show made Hannah look like a perfectly helpless victim. Like she was all in the right and her classmates were all in the wrong. However, in “Beyond The Reasons”, a 30-minute video of the cast, producers, and mental health professionals discussing the series, Jay Asher, the author of the print version of “13 Reasons Why” said, “She wasn’t perfect. She didn’t do everything she could have.” So the producers of the show never meant to portray Hannah as a complete victim, but rather as a normal teenager in high school being bullied.
That’s the thing about the show, guys. It’s real. This is what High school has become. This is what teenagers do to one another. While I was watching the show, I felt like I was back in my high school (until the rape scene, where I stopped watching). I went through a lot of the same things Hannah went through, not just in high school, but in middle school and college. One of the reasons I’m in therapy now is because of the things my classmates said or did to me. And I’m sure you can relate to Hannah’s situation just as much.
Yes, the show failed in many ways, but it succeeded in others.
Don’t miss what the show said focusing on all the things the show failed to say.
And that is:
To the parents/Adults,
Teens haven’t experienced enough in the world to understand, yet alone put into words, what they are feeling. So, they don’t tell you because they don’t know what to tell you. Their school is their entire world. So, when a bully appears and turns all their friends against them, or when an embarrassing picture is texted around the school, or when the school counselor brushes off a problem thinking it’s just a “silly teenager thing”, or when their best friend starts dating their ex boyfriend, It’s like their whole world is crumbling around them. So, don’t just throw away this series as trash. Because though there are a lot of problems with the show, the one thing it does well is depicting the world of high school. Talk to young teens about depression, bullying, suicide, mental health, and your own experiences going through school that they may be able to relate to.
To the young teens,
Watch your actions and what you say. You don’t know what your peers are dealing with. You don’t know what their home life looks like or what happens behind closed doors. Realize that the things you do, even the small things you do, can affect someone long term. For instance, Zach who was angry with getting rejected by Hannah, stole her compliment notes out of her designated classroom bag, not knowing that those little notes were something she depended on in a time where she felt lonely and rejected. That affected her deeply, but to you and me it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal.
Also know this, life goes on. You may be in a crappy situation, but it’s only temporary. Suicide is a game where everyone loses, especially you. One of the best things you can do is talk to someone. You may not know what exactly to say, but try to explain it. I guarantee you they will understand what you’re talking about. One of the things Hannah did wrong was keeping everything inside. She didn’t reach out to the many people around that loved her. And no matter how guilty she made her classmates feel with those tapes, they still have the opportunity to deal with that guilt, move on, accomplish their goals, and live their life. Hannah gave up that chance. Grow through the pain teens!