Good morning lovely’s,
Today I am going to do a review for the Netflix series that is based on the Young Adult novel 13 Reasons Why. My opinion may not, in fact, be the popular one (please don’t persecute me for my opinion as it is a very small one in a sea of millions) and THERE WILL BE SPOILERS involved in this review as I could not figure out a way to talk about the issues I have with the series without the use of spoilers.
Let’s jump in, shall we? (THIS IS YOUR LAST WARNING BEFORE THE ACTUAL REVIEW: THERE WILL BE SPOILERS ABOUT THIS SERIES, IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE SHOW YET AND DON’T WANT TO KNOW ANYTHING THAT HAPPENS CLICK AWAY NOW!!!)…..
13 Reasons Why is a book turned Netflix mini series about a girl named Hannah Baker that committed suicide (the show starts post-mortem, as I have yet to read the book I am not sure how true to the story it is), however prior to taking her own life she records 13 cassette tapes naming the people and the reasons that ultimately lead to her decision to kill herself. These tapes have been set in motion to be delivered and listened to by the 13 people who are named on them. When we join the story, we see Clay Jensen receiving the tapes totally unaware of what they are and what they contain but he will soon be in for a horrible revelation.
Now that I have given you a very bare bones synopsis of what the show entails, I will move into the aspects of it that I did like. I thought that the show was very well written and filmed in the sense that it didn’t do a whole lot of jumping around between stories; it laid out each tape and introduced each character in detail so that we, as an audience, could completely grasp what Hannah was trying to get everyone to understand about each instance. I also liked that the show encourages teenagers that are being bullied or having problems to reach out to their peers or other people that they feel like they can trust. Working in a high school this is very important to me because I see kids getting bullied and feeling hopeless and I try to be there for them as best I can so that my students know that they are never alone and they always have someone who cares about them. I also liked that they used everyday examples of real life bullying that some high school students face. Bullying today is very different from it was even 10 years ago because now every teenager has a cell phone that has a camera and a million social media sites that they can use for making another kid’s life a living hell. That is about it for the pros of this series, in my opinion.
On to the negatives…
The first negative that I am going to go into is that it really seems like this series glamorizes teen suicide. Okay, maybe not glamorizes but definitely makes it seem like a viable option for teenagers that are facing struggles and strife. I know that all of the scenarios that the character Hannah Baker went through were more than just minor teenage struggles but to a normal teenager that is dealing with everyday drama, problems at home and school, and those pesky out of control hormones they might take from the show that even the normal stuff they are dealing with is enough to need to end their own precious lives when it should NEVER be an option. Teenagers are extremely impressionable and take whatever meaning they see fit from other things all of the time and I can see this leading to an unnecessary rise in teen suicide. The next negative I took issue with are the two rape scenes that are shown on camera, in detail, and for extensive periods of time. Yes, Netflix did preface the episodes with disclaimers warning the audience of what MIGHT be coming and for that I give them credit. In my opinion; the scenes could’ve been implied, they could be done in narrative so that the audience’s imagination pieced them together however they so chose, or they could’ve started the scene so that the audience got the gist of what was going to happen and then cut away. Even with the disclaimer at the beginning, that may not be enough to convince a rape survivor that they aren’t going to visually relive exactly what they’ve already lived through once and MAY already mentally relive every single day because many shows imply rape and still throw a disclaimer up before the episode giving them a false sense of security coming into this show. Also tons of teenagers watched, are watching, or are planning to watch this show and some of them might have never seen a rape scene as intense as these two but again are lured into watching it with the false sense of security that other shows with those disclaimers have lulled them into. One more negative that bothers me is that Hannah reached out to a counselor in hopes that he would step in, believe what she is telling him, and help save her life and instead, because she is afraid to give him the name of her attacker and because “she never said no” explicitly, she is told that sometimes all you can do is move on. I do not care if you are not given specific details, I do not care if the student expresses a desire for their parents or the proper authorities to not be involved, I do not care WHAT ELSE YOU HAVE GOING ON IN YOUR PERSONAL OR PROFESSIONAL LIFE AT THAT MOMENT; you as an adult and as her school adviser take her words seriously and get her parents and the police called and down to that school IMMEDIATELY because not oly is she hurting and crying out for help but because she is a CHILD! It is your job to protect those students, and that includes even from themselves but, especially from other people if they trust you enough to come to you and you DO NOT take that trust for granted. The final issue I take with this series is that they show Hannah Baker actually taking her own life. Not in cut scenes, not distorted, not any way other than straight on and in your face. You see Hannah walk out of her school after her counselor ignores her pleas for help, you see her go home when she knows her parents won’t be there, you see her run a bath, open a box of razor blades, contemplate what she is about to do, she climbs into the tub with her clothes on, she takes the razor blade to her wrist and drags, you see her cry out and grimace in pain, you see that the first time she pulled it across her wrist she didn’t go deep enough, you then see her have to go over the first cut again to get through the tendons, you see blood pour out of her arm into the tub, then you see her repeat the process on the other side, after she slits her wrists you see her go into shock and start hyperventilating, finally there is a cut scene but when it cuts back her mother finds her dead lifeless body. I take issue with this scene most of all because teenagers (and people in general) that are at the point where they have almost come to the decision to end their life because to them it will never get better could see this and see that it isn’t so bad and push them to go through with an irreversible choice that doesn’t need to be made. I take issue with this because it shows that once you take your own life you become “important”, “people will care about why you did it”, “people will be sorry for mistreating you”, “your death will mean something” and sadly that is not always or even normally the case. The same points and the same emphasis could have been made without showing the actual suicide.
Well I will now close out my ranting about the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why. I do plan on reading the book to see just how different they really are. Please don’t judge me too harshly on my opinions of this one show, I do see the good they were trying to do with it I just don’t think it was executed correctly. I promise that the next review I do will be something much more lighthearted. Until then, take care of each other and make sure you let the people that you care about know that you are there for them no matter what. Suicide doesn’t need to be an option. If you, or someone you know, is having suicidal thoughts and don’t have anyone that you want to talk to about them please call the Suicide Hotline toll-free at 1-800-273-8255 someone is there 24 hours a day to listen.