There’s been a lot of conversation about 13 Reasons Why. Some say it’s a load of crap, others say it makes them feel understood. I understand to a certain extent where each side comes from.
But, 13 Reasons Why, didn’t strike me as wanting to cast blame on those individuals. By disclosing more about each of the 13, it showed that these people had a lot going on as well, whether that be abuse, dealing with depression, their sexuality and so much more. This show gave us insight that there is always more than what meets the eye. It wasn’t saying, that the 13 were awful people who deserved to be persecuted — well except in the case of Byrce, because rape is rape — but perfect human beings. Infallible.
The 13 had their own stories to deal with themselves. They faced a multitude of insecurities and fears like the rest of us. Some of them were purposely mean, but a lot of them acted from a place of hurt. A place where their own trauma waits to be resolved. The show, wasn’t about condemning them for their failings, because honestly, we all fall off our wagon. 13 Reasons Why, gave us the simple reminder to be kind anyway. That yes, we will have our bad days that will cause us to potentially snap and be blind to the agony of others, but as far as possible, be kind — anyway. And when we catch ourselves falling short of being kind to take measures to repair the damage. It’s not an easy thing, but do it anyway.
On the flip side, the main reason why I loved this series, is that it gave me the freedom to feel. It didn’t depict Hannah as coming from some troubled background or extremely dire circumstances. She was portrayed as being raised in a good, stable, loving family. 13 Reasons Why was a stark reminder that we’re all the same but we respond to situations differently. Some of us find our release in self-harm, music, drugs, alcohol, exercise and various other outlets. It impressed upon all of us to a healthy release or someone that helps us hold on when things get to hard.
It made room for those who felt like they didn’t have permission to be sad, to be sad. To hurt. To acknowledge their feelings, even if it seemed small. Especially when we experienced pain on behalf of another. When the road sign was accidentally knocked down, it wasn’t Hannah’s fault. When Jeff died, it wasn’t Hannah’s fault. When the old man was injured, it wasn’t Hannah’s fault. When Jessica was raped, it wasn’t Hannah’s fault. But she felt as though it was. And that’s the crux of it, she felt that it was and she blamed herself, and it was okay. It was okay to feel that way, it was her right. I don’t even think Hannah herself, understood that. I feel like we sometimes don’t understand that. That experiencing our emotions as they are, for whatever they may be is okay and also our duty. Take time to process it all. Acting in harmful ways to ourselves and others isn’t, but that doesn’t mean that what we feel is wrong.
It’s okay to hurt. It’s okay to feel everything. Sometimes feeling everything makes life seem overwhelming, perhaps at times it is. 13 Reasons Why provides comfort to us feeling the good, bad and in between, because that’s part of living.
The point (to me) wasn’t to say, this is what it means to live with depression, take it or leave it. It was to illustrate that this is what Hannah’s depression looks like and defending her right to her emotions. And in that way, it gave validation for everyone else who connected with her mental head space.
To be honest, your perspective didn’t occur to me, and I completely respect it. I also now see the potential for others to see it as some sort of encouragement for self-harm. Like most things, there can be an array of effects, some intended and some unintended. I don’t think the author or producers really desired the effect you described. But the show is out and can’t really be rescinded from people’s minds. So though there are negative outcomes, and I’m sorry your experience with it was that, I think at the same time, there was also a positive side to it.