I’m not interested in 13 Reasons Why. Am I a bad person?
Note: this piece contains very very minor spoilers.
Last month I started watching Netflix’ hit series 13 Reasons Why, based on the book by Jay Asher. I watched because everyone was talking about it online. Everyone seemed to be binging it. They finished it in a few days.
I’m not a binge-watcher when it comes to television shows. My personal best is watching 3–4 episodes each day for about 3–4 days. That was when I was marathoning past seasons of a show I had already watched and knew I really liked. Otherwise, it can take me days and sometimes weeks before I finally act on the “should I watch the next episode today?” thought.
13 Reasons currently falls under “otherwise”.
This may sound terrible, but I can’t find it in me to want to watch the show, and it’s simply because I find it dull. Maybe it’s because the issues brought forth (suicide, rape culture etc) are not as prevalent in my society (or maybe they just don’t get proportionate coverage). Maybe because it’s not the usual genres I watch (fantasy, sci-fi and mystery). Maybe because I can’t relate to any of the characters. Maybe I lack empathy.
Maybe I’m simply being ignorant. The show talks about important issues. It’s not meant to be entertainment. You should watch it so you will be aware, the internet (or at least, the part of it that consists of self-righteous young people all hung up about being ‘woke’) will tell me. Or, if you think 13rw isn’t interesting then you’re neglecting the issues discussed. You’re saying it isn’t important. You’re part of the problem.
I’ve given up on shows before finishing the season. There are many acclaimed and/or fan-loved movies that I’ve never watched, or watched but did not see the appeal. This is the first time I’ve felt like I might be condemned for not finding interest in a show.
In the month since I started on 13 Reasons, I’ve gotten to episode 5. So far, I’ve felt nothing. I mean, I was annoyed by the same characters everyone found annoying and disliked the same characters everyone disliked, but these feelings weren’t deep. They were not invested. They faded as soon as I closed my laptop.
I don’t feel a desire to finish the series — I already know the plot (both the book and televised versions, thanks internet). Granted, I don’t really have the details, but the show hasn’t compelled me to want to know what happened play-by-play. The hype surrounding the show only made me want to know who the 13 people (well, only 12, as it turns out) on the tapes were and why.
For the count, I don’t find the show disturbing — yet (like I said, still on tape 3. I would expect myself to avert my eyes when certain events transpire in later episodes, provided I bring myself to watch them.) I do not have the understanding or experience to question how the show has portrayed suicide. Neither am I in a mental state where I may find the show “triggering”. I look at 13 Reasons Why as purely a show. Yet even from that entertainment perspective, it does not draw me in.
Most of the characters, and their relationships, are barely developed to the point that there is no payoff when secrets are revealed and bonds are severed. None of the actors are particular spectacular to make me trudge on just to watch their performance. The decision to make Clay listen to the tapes over the course of days serves the serial format better than going through all of them in one night as he did in the books. However, it makes the plot trod on extremely slowly. It might have been better if each episode was only 25–30 minutes long.
Netflix has built up a rep of producing “binge addiction” shows because all the episodes are released at once, giving viewers the opportunity to gobble them up excitedly. Sadly, 13 Reasons Why, to me, is less of an enticing pack of snacks or popcorn to down in a movie or TV marathon than it is a bag of tasteless crackers that I consume a handful of when I’m bored and my fridge is otherwise empty.