By: Brittany Dempsey
So many of us students have been writing about “13 Reasons Why”. So many news companies are picking up on the show. So many principals are sending letters home to parents. It’s funny because so many people are complaining about the negative attention the show is receiving and yet it is the media’s fault. Those who are complaining are the ones feeding in the attention it is getting. I had a completely different blog written out that I was going to write about but after watching this show, I felt like I had to speak out against everyone else’s same opinions. This blog is not just about the show but beyond the show. The segment that comes on after the show ends to speak about the raw truth behind it from the characters, producers, creators, and mental health professionals.
I watched “13 Reasons Why” with an open mind after hearing many complaints about how suicide was glamorized and how it could be a triggering show to watch. After watching “13 Reasons Why: Beyond the Reasons” I came to understand just how much effort went into making the show. Each creator and producer spoke to professionals about suicide and even spoke to victims of suicide and sexual assault. Does that mean they did everything the exact way that maybe they were supposed too? No. This is a show, not a newscast. The creators had a purpose but they did not have a specific storyline to base Hannah’s life off of. Do I think they made errors? Yes. This show was not meant to glamorize suicide, this show was not meant to educate others on suicide. It was meant to show a life of a girl who felt so low that she felt she had no other option.
The way the creator films the show is brilliant for many reasons. The first reason being because Hannah’s closest friend named Clay follows in her footsteps while listening to the tapes. It’s almost as if he is picking up all of her broken pieces and trying to make sense of them by piecing them together to figure out why she took her own life. He consistently finds himself wondering what could have been. The show is told through Hannah’s point of view, using her voice as a map. Flashbacks were incorporated as the show switches back and forth from present to past tense, bringing an overwhelming sense to determine where everything went wrong.
In an article titled ’13 Reasons’ Sparks Criticism of Teen Suicide Depiction The Associated Press wrote “Many people are accusing the show of glamorizing suicide and I feel strongly — and I think everyone who made the show — feel very strongly that we did the exact opposite,” said writer Brian Yorkey, who won a Tony Award and a Pulitzer Prize for the stage play Next to Normal, which grappled with mental illness. “What we did was portray suicide and we portrayed it as very ugly and very damaging.” The creators wanted to make the show as raw as possible so that true human pain could be felt.
“13 Reasons Why” is about a girl named Hannah Baker who goes through a series of tragic events in her life that brings her to ending her own life. She makes 13 tapes based on each individual that helped ruined her life. She gives these tapes to Tony, who many might say is her “guardian angel”. He keeps his promise to Hannah by delivering the tapes to everyone involved. Some of the other characters involved are Clay, Jess, Alex, Bryce, Justin, Marcus, Sheri, Tyler, Zach, and Courtney. Each tape is a story involving each character that led up to Hannah’s tragic end. All thirteen tapes were dropped off in a shoebox on each person’s doorstep. Each tape starts with Hannah saying “I’m about to tell you the story of my life or more specifically, why my life ended.” She explains that “if you’re listening to this tape, you’re one of the reasons why.” Every tape says each individual’s name and then proceeds to say “welcome to your tape.”
In an article titled “13 REASONS WHY” MAKES A SMARMY SPECTACLE OF SUICIDE Jia Tolentino explains Hannah’s reasonings: “There’s the girlfriend who slapped her, the guy who designated her as “Best Ass” on a list, the guy who published her poetry non consensually, the guy who let another guy rape his unconscious girlfriend at a party while Hannah was hiding in the room. With every tape, it progressively gets worse, driving Hannah to feel that their was no light at the end of the tunnel.
” In the twelfth episode, she decides to give life one more chance but soon regrets it after her guidance counselor wouldn’t even chase after her. In an article titled “13 REASONS WHY” MAKES A SMARMY SPECTACLE OF SUICIDE Jia Tolentino writes about Hannah’s feelings: “I started with Justin and Jessica, who each broke my heart. Alex, Tyler, Courtney, Marcus, who each helped to destroy my reputation., on through Zach and Ryan, who broke my spirit. Through Tape #12, Bryce Walker, who broke my soul.” Hannah felt that nobody cared about her, including herself.
Though this show could have done a better job at providing a background of what is going to happen behind each episode, this show could be a wake up call to many children to see just how large this epidemic is and how we NEED to help others, be kind, and most importantly, be THERE. No, this show is not for EVERYONE. Especially those who many have experienced some of these intense and traumatic experiences. Something that many are failing to realize is that their is a viewer discretion advised warning before each episode. This is a clear wake up call to proceed with warning.
So what makes this show so successful? “13 Reasons why” brings up difficult conversations. These conversations consist of topics such as suicide and consent. It even brings up necessary questions that parents need to make sure they ask their kids such about where they were or how they are feeling because the littlest gestures can make a big difference. The point of the show is to make viewers feel the emotion Hannah is feeling on a daily basis. Each event is made to feel like the watcher is living in that moment, living in Hannah’s world.
In an article titled TV Review: ‘13 Reasons Why’ on Netflix Maureen Ryan determines that “As it progresses through the build-up to the tragedy and the complicated wreckage of its aftermath, “13 Reasons Why” wisely humanizes and contextualizes grief, depression, suicide, and the aftereffects of sexual assault through characters and scenarios that viewers will be unlikely to forget. It’s hard to think about anything else, frankly, once you’ve finished the season.” Personally, I think Maureen is right. This show left so many viewers wondering what all the other characters are wondering, “why would a dead girl lie?” The question is, is Hannah lying? I guess we will all find out together in season 2.