Like pretty much everyone else I binge watched 13 Reasons Why, then read the book, then read all the articles I could find on it. Then the articles slamming it started popping up in between the ones praising it for showing a realistic portrayal of teenage life. I couldn’t understand why something that was getting so much praise was suddenly getting torn apart by everyone else. Is it because it makes us face up to an uncomfortable truth? Is it because it makes us think how we’ve treated other people and we don’t like that, so the reaction is to go on the defensive?
There’s claims that the series ‘glamorises’ suicide and rape, which I call bullshit. It’s somewhat horrendous to watch, it has warnings at the start of the episodes with helplines and let’s face it – IT’S A TV SHOW. Nobody is forcing you to watch it. It’s never claimed to be some sort of suicide prevention tv show that you can sit and watch and feel happy about. Various lines from it include “why would a dead girl lie?” and “A lot of you cared, just not enough” You know from the very start Hannah Baker is dead, she committed suicide and you’re about to find out why.
It’s incredibly difficult to watch at times, the scenes are very graphic and intense but it shows the harsh reality of suicide. It doesn’t sugar coat what happens, taking your own life would never be a pleasant experience and a series that the producers have the balls to show it realistically is one worth watching in my opinion. In this post I said I hadn’t watched the last episode because I couldn’t bring myself to, but I did it the other day, even though I skipped the bathroom scenes, I wanted that weird closure of knowing what happens.
The thing I love about 13 Reasons Why is that it doesn’t shy away from the uncomfortable issues, it doesn’t skirt around them and make light of serious problems. It shows how suicide affects the family and the friends, the people who think maybe they could have done more to help. It shows all the things that add up to cause someone to take their life and how one throwaway comment can snowball spectacularly. It doesn’t show that there are other options for people, there are obviously but that’s not Hannah’s story. Hannah’s story is how she asked for help and nobody gave it, she gave it one last chance and it didn’t work.
I understand how people can say it’s triggering or how it can push someone just that bit further over the edge. There’s articles floating around about how the actors had to have therapy dogs on set because it was so difficult for them to film at times and to have to get into that mental space of portraying suicidal characters or bullies or rapists. The thing is those actors could go home each day and move on. People who are actually going through all of this don’t have that option. Their feelings don’t go away as soon as someone says ‘cut’ and they don’t always have access to therapists or counselling. They have to get up every day and carry on.
During the 13th episode the time stamps on the interviews show November 10th 2017, showing that these events haven’t necessarily happened yet. This gives hope that maybe things could change, and maybe you could help someone by reaching out to them.
Also Jeff Atkins deserved better. That is all.
*Since posting this, they’ve announced a second series and I’m far too excited to see where they take it*