Review of 13 Reasons Why (Netflix Series): Contains Spoilers
Would I recommend this show to other people? I don’t know. I liked the show very much but I have doubts about how i feel the subject matter was handled in this show. If for some reason you are reading it despite the spoiler warning, the basic premise of the story is that a girl (Hannah Baker) has committed suicide and she has left behind 13 tapes addressed to 13 people “responsible” for her committing suicide. She wants each one of them to listen to all the tapes and pass it along to the the next person on the list. The show tackles many issues people go through their teenage years like bullying, slut shaming, rape, finding your sexual identity etc. It explores how difficult it is to be a teenager.
I was hooked to the show from the beginning and found the story interesting. I felt that they could successfully show how each of the characters was affected by Hannah’s story and how they were dealing with it. Most of the characters had an arch. You would start by hating them but you would eventually see they are not one dimensional and they have much more depth to their character. There were many scenes which were uncomfortable to watch like the rape scenes and the suicide scene because of how real it felt.Whenever I find something good I try to read its reviews to see how others feel about it. Especially the negative ones to see if I am missing something. While most of the reviews were positive but there were some bad reviews which stood out to me. It is based on a book and some people had the same problem with the book. According to some people this show glorifies suicide and may push people to do it. Other accused that the reasons were silly and everyone goes through the same trauma during school and no one kills them self over that. While other had the opinion that it is like a diary for attention seeking person who wants to see how people will react if they are dead. I do not agree with these opinion but if above things were true then given the subject matter it is really important to address it.
I want to start by stating that Hannah Baker is a flawed character. Not flawed in the sense that she is not “realistic” but that she is not perfect. There are things that happen to her throughout the show that leads her down the path of suicide. There were many occasions where she could have talked to someone and she could have been okay. She did not tell her friend Jessica about the rape, she did not confess about the stop sign to Clay’s friend’s parent who thought their son died because of drunk driving. Mostly in the story the protagonist or the person we follow is usually a good person who makes right choices but circumstances and other people keep on creating obstacles which they have to overcome. Even in stories with anti-heroes the protagonists make bad choices but they are usually the right choices. It is not the case here. If you see the “Beyond the Reason” the documentary about making of the show the writer talks about Hannah setting the counselor up to fail. And according to me she is the reason for Alex’s suicide. The point is she feels like a real person and like many teenagers she does not express her inner thoughts to other people as she fears no one would understand it. The story shows an outsiders view on what teenagers go through. Sure it does not explicitly tells what should be done to prevent suicide but by showing how you effect the life of others we can learn how to prevent.
It also shows the aftermath of suicide. It shows how devastating it is for people who are close to you. The suicide scene is very uncomfortable to watch and intentionally so. I don’t think that this show glorifies suicide but it shows that it does not end anything but increases the suffering of your loved ones.
The tapes are used as a McGuffin in this show and should not be taken as sign of attention seeking behavior. McGuffin is an object used to drive the plot of the story through which we see what are the incidents which led to Hannah committing suicide. Few initial people and reasons given by her might seem silly for ending her life but we have to see how all this events stacked up one over another made their effect more severe. Some of the reasons in the end were very traumatic like witnessing a friend’s rape and then being raped yourself and unable to do anything about it or feeling guilty about someone’s death. A teenager’s mind is not mature enough to see that most of this do not matter in long run. Nothing justifies the decision of taking your own life but if maybe any one of the events would not happened then she would not be dead.
Everyone might not agree that show is giving the right message but everyone would agree that it opens up the talks about sensitive topics like rape and suicide and we need to talk about it more often to increase awareness about it. If you are feeling depressed and thinking of harming yourself or you have been victim of sexual assault you should talk to your loved ones. I can imagine that it is not easy to come out and talk due to social pressure but that is the best option you have any other option is a wrong option.