When Netflix came out with its adaptation of the 2007 bestseller by Jay Asher, 13 Reasons Why in March 2017 it became an instant hit gaining popularity amongst young adults, teenagers and high schoolers. But the buzz was short lived as it was followed by the criticism from people stating that the show glamorized suicide
and made it look like a good way out of all the trouble. Seeing this as a sign of concern Netflix decided to get the 13 Reasons Why cast, producers and mental health professionals together to discuss scenes dealing with difficult issues, including bullying, depression and sexual assault throughout the show in Beyond The Reasons.
Now that the much awaited season 2 of the show is around the corner I would like to put things in a different perspective, the way I saw them while watching the show or while reading the book the show’s based on. This blog is purely based on my personal instincts and I would love to hear your stand on it.
Through the series, we witness how the lives of people surrounding the high school girl, Hannah Baker, are affected after she commits suicide, more so, how Clay Jensen’s life is impacted by this tragic incident. Hannah has left behind a few tapes which hold the secret of her mysterious death.
Many viewers, who were depressed, had a serious impact on their lives with this since they started to consider suicide as an easy way out because Hannah did so. But how I see it is that it was never a story about Hannah, it was about the people in her life, about her friends, classmates, parents, about what her peers did with her and later how everyone suffered.
There’s a line in both the book and the show, “Everything affects everything.” The show is supposed to send across a message that what you do, your actions, can so deeply affect someone’s life. So much so that they might take their own life. We ought to see the show through a different lens to look at it this way.
So the reason why the show was made in the first place was not to show Hannah committing suicide but, to show what led up to that decision and why was it taken.
We are living in a time when things like sexual assault, substance abuse, bullying, suicide have become very common and we must talk about them, we must hold a mirror before the world and tell them what they are doing is wrong using such platforms, like Ryan in this scene while convincing Hannah to publish her poetry in the school magazine says, “the whole point of creative expression is to hold up a mirror to the world so hopefully, these god-awful people can start to see themselves.”
The show also raises concerns about cyberbullyingwhich is quite pertinent to the current times when anyone can direct your life even while hiding behind a computer screen. Not only that, it questions the general stereotype that parents hold that their child can potentially be bullied but can never be a bully. The scene where while having a conversation with his Mother about bullying at school Clay questions her saying, “What if I’m the bully?” and the only reply his mother has is, ‘You could never be a bully because you’re a good boy.’ Really? Does it always work this way?
The producers of the show have all the while stated that they had no intention of glorifying suicide. The executive producer on the show, Brian Yorkey, even confessed, while talking about the last episode of the show that, “We wanted it [the scene where Hannah commits suicide] to be painful to watch, because we wanted it to be very clear that there is nothing, in any way, worthwhile about suicide.”
There is nothing more left to say except that it’s time we talk about the topics which were bravely discussed in the show and don’t forget to check out this space for the review of the second season of 13 Reasons Why.