Anew, thrilling and suspenseful television series out on Netflix called “13 Reasons Why” has garnered attention very quickly due to its great casting and unapologetic analysis of modern teenage life, as well as because it was executive produced by Selena Gomez. The show consists of just one season of 13 episodes that debuted on March 31.
The show focuses on the events leading up to the suicide of 17-year- old Hannah Baker. Hannah explains why she ended her life by recording the misdeeds of 13 key people who wronged her in high school. Through Hannah’s taped recordings, “13 Reasons Why” explores many problems in our contemporary society that are difficult to face, including suicide, sexual assault and bullying.
The show begins with the male protagonist, Clay, one of Hannah’s former classmates and coworker at a movie theater, getting the tapes and slowly listening to all of them shortly after Hannah’s death.
Viewers can see Clay in the present in each episode, struggling to listen to every tape when he learns of the difficult realities of Hannah’s life as her voice narrates each tape. This is contrasted with flashbacks where we can see Hannah’s life through her own eyes.
Each new episode of the series centers around one person who emotionally or physically hurt Hannah. What makes the story so compelling, however, is that each of the people on Hannah’s tapes have histories and motivations of their own. What seems like a list of inherently cruel people is something completely different — while some are intentionally cruel to Hannah, others indirectly or unintentionally harm her.
There have been many contrasting opinions about this show. Some say that “13 Reasons Why” glorifies suicide and that it doesn’t follow suicide protocol. However, others say that it brings awareness to mental illness and shows that there are many different factors that can trigger someone’s desire to end their life.
I have mixed opinions about this show. I think that there are some great aspects of “13 Reasons Why,” such as how they bring up important issues on bullying and sexual assault that promote awareness of these topics that are often ignored.
On the other hand, I think that certain parts of the show are inappropriate in its discussion and portrayal of suicide. For one, the main premise of the show is that there are certain people who caused Hannah to kill herself. This seems very wrong because there are many other factors including mental health, which is mentioned very little in each episode. The idea that suicide is a direct cause of the behavior of others can be detrimental to the family and friends of people who committed suicide, as it could cause them to blame themselves. Although the portrayal of suicide might be flawed, it is important that there is finally a show that covers suicide because it is usually not discussed because of the stigma.
While the show does have some issues, it still is worth the hype. There are a lot of great television shows on Netflix, but there are very few shows that delve into so many controversial topics while still remaining relatable and empathetic, which is something that “13 Reasons Why” does so well.
Intertwining Clay and Hannah’s past and present experiences while explaining the horrible events that Hannah had to go through not only creates a chilling and dramatic story of a girl who committed suicide, but also shines a light on the challenges and trials of being a modern teenager.