“Everyone is just so nice until they drive you to kill yourself”- Clay Jensen.
13 reasons why is the new series on Netflix that everybody seems to be discussing.
Feg and I finished watching it last night, and after me sobbing like a baby and feeling as though I was on a roller coaster of emotions, I’ve had some time to think and reflect about what I actually thought of the show, so I thought id share my thoughts with you all.
13 reasons why is a dark Netflix drama based on the popular novel Thirteen reasons why by Jay Asher.
The story explores a troubled teenager’s motivations for committing suicide. After finding a note, viewers learn the main character Hannah Baker has left thirteen cassette tapes; each addressed to a different person whom Hannah felt was influential in leading her to kill herself. Clay Jensen (One of the main characters) who had worked with Hannah and had a secret crush on her decides he wants justice for what happened to his friend.
Throughout the series we painfully watch as Hannah tries to seek help from various people; her teachers, peers and Mr. Porter, the school counsellor. All of them dismiss her strange and dark behaviour along with her more subtle pleads for help, as nothing more than hormonal teenage conduct, which could arguably be one of the hardest parts to watch.
Much of the story takes place in flashbacks while Hannah is still alive. The series in structured similar to that of a murder mystery in order to not reveal whom, but to slowly reveal why. This is where most people seem to think the problem lies.
Over the course of the thirteen episodes, we gradually learn what each of the characters did to Hannah to drive her to take her life, Majority of the ‘crimes’ are pretty mild and can be put down to bitchy high school behaviour; others are horrific, inexcusable crimes. Through the tapes and Clay Jensen’s persistence more and more secrets’ are revealed and people are exposed.
When I first started watching the show, I was taken with how honest and raw it was. I weirdly liked how Hannah was speaking from beyond the grave and was not seen as victim but more a manipulator who wants to seek revenge on the people who have wronged her.
The show has undeniably sparked a reaction with its viewers and has seemingly dismissed its responsibilities to deal with such sensitive issues such as sexual violence and suicide. Overall I thought the show was good, but I felt as though its problems lied mostly in the narrative.
When it came to the toughest scenes, the show did a reasonable job of avoiding too many clichés, whilst giving the audience a push to discuss these kinds of topics, which is hugely valuable! Although I still feel the message of the series, be it intended or not, is that while justice may be non-existent in life, it might be achieved in death. As I said before, this probably wasn’t the director’s aim but that’s certainly what is portrayed in the last few episodes. No one is saying that suicide is an easy topic to tackle, but in my opinion it is wrong to portray suicide without so much as a token mention of the word depression or a heads up to mental illness. Perhaps the most unsettling notion that is conveyed, is that one’s suicide can act as the spur to get the wheels of justice spinning.
On the other hand there’s a solid argument that these kind of series’ could help parents and teachers to talk to teens/children about issues like isolation, depression and bullying which is great, but the way in which the series addresses these issues is pretty damn complex and far from straight forward, which could be tricky for a more impressionable and naive viewer to fully understand.
Have you guys watched it? What did you think?
Until next time.
If you’ve been affected by any of the issues addressed in this piece or in the series you can call the Samaritans on the free helpline 116 123.