Recently, I took about a week to watch the new Netflix series “13 Reasons Why” and I have to say it was heavy.
Although the subject matter is not an easy one I was curious to see how this show would portray such a thing. Especially, since this is a program that is targeted to teens and having someone like Selena Gomez tied to the project as an executive producer makes it more attractive to some.
For those who don’t know, this is a show about the 13 reasons that led a young girl named Hannah to the decision to end her life. Upon her death she explains these reasons in 13 tapes left to be heard by the people in her life…those that she blamed for her decision.
Now, let me just say there is no reason for anyone to end their life. There is always another way. Suicide is such a harsh finality to a temporary pain. There is always help and people who care. Always.
This show was not an easy one to watch but also one that you felt yourself needing to see through. There has been talk of the producers attempting to glamorize the subject matter, almost making it appear as though her thought process made some sort of sense. Or that the fact she haunted these people after her death with these tapes made her appear as some sort of celebrity but I have to say that I disagree. Although, some of the approach they took was mishandled knowing the age group that the show is geared towards.
In my opinion, this show helped to shed a light on the difficulties of adolescence in today’s day and age. Being a teenager was hard enough when I was younger, I could not imagine growing up among Facebook trolls and social media bullies. One embarrassing moment or mean comment lives forever nowadays.
This show touches on more than just suicide. It talks about trying to find out who you are among judgement and pressure. Self identification, sexual preference, bullying, rape, self-mutilation, depression and what it looks like. This show really allows a conversation to be had about what it’s like to be a young person today.
These are issues that all young people in all generations are touched by. But today’s standards amplifies everything so much more with the online lives that young people have grown up knowing. This makes the emotions from these issues seem so much bigger.
Now, I did not read the book but do know that the makers of the show did take some creative liberties to make this book into a series. I do feel that there was still a responsibility to tell this story in a way that wasn’t so graphic in showing the finality of this girls life. The choice to show the act of ending her life in such a precise way was crippling and sad, so much so, I could not watch, I turned my head until it was done. This I don’t feel was a responsible creative choice. It was meant to feel authentic and honest but at the same time showed such a feeling of calm that this may just backfire.
That was my fear after this moment of the series. Will this make someone who is vulnerable to this idea feel as if this is the way to go. I certainly hope not.
I do appreciate the portrayal of cause and effect in our treatment of others. Through Hannah’s tapes you get an idea of how moments, thoughts, acts of kindness and betrayal can all leave marks on us. This is something I felt is good for young people to see. Allowing people to make better choices by being better to one another. This, I think is a good message.
All in the same, these tapes seem to signify some blame on those that receive them. This feels uncomfortable…NO ONE is ever at fault for someone choosing to take their own life. In her choice to leave this remembrance, if you will…it shows the confusion and loneliness that she must have felt and appears to still be working out even until the end. In all of these reasons she had, there was still a way to fix it. There was another way and maybe that is what this series was trying to show. Every reason that she provides is just another doorway to which she should have asked for help.
The guidance counselor provides some discomfort and anger even in her listing of reasons and I hope in no way discourages someone to ask for help from a person in a similar authoritative position. This is another way the series showed some irresponsibility in potentially scaring off those in need to seek help by making it appear as a worthless attempt. This is another moment I feared for that vulnerable person watching.
I myself felt lost as a young person. Not for anything happening at school but for reasons personal to my life. It brought me to a dark place, a place I contemplated with the notion of taking an easier way. But of course, I didn’t and realized that things did get easier to deal with. Although, they may not have changed in the way I may have wished. I learned how to better work with those emotions that brought me to that dark place.
When we are young, emotions ride high, puberty ensues and we are a chemical mess. In trying to deal with others, ourselves and the fearful thought of the big future ahead and all that comes with that, it can be a really scary time. This show felt like it was trying to share in that fear and make it known that it exists.
How young people will take this is unsure….and I am still not quite sure if I had a teenager that I would want them to see this.
As an adult I can relate to what those fears felt like. They can be scary but it will always get better, there is always another way, there is always someone who cares….always.
This show may have another season. It is still unknown. The maker’s seem to want to continue telling these characters stories. The ending left for more interpretation to be had so we will see what happens. There may be more to talk about next season. Maybe a conversation is all you need.
If you ever feel alone or consumed with fear or depression…seek help…it WILL and CAN get better.
Take care lovelies,