The new Netflix original show 13 Reasons Why has become an extremely popular topic of conversation recently, drawing the attention of teens and adults alike. 13 Reasons Why tackles issues regarding bullying and teen suicide, and shines a light on how school systems handle such events.
While the series does many things right, it has its downfalls as well. With all the controversy revolving around the show, it may be hard to decide whether you want to watch it or not. To help you make that decision, here are 13 Things To Know About 13 Reasons Why:
- It covers issues we are often too afraid to talk about:
13 Reasons Why takes on topics like bullying, suicide, and what our schools can do about it. These can be touchy issues, especially when teenagers are involved. The show takes the time to evaluate the causes and consequences that these issues have on people. The show openly and unapologetically touches on these topics which serves to show people that they could do the same.
- It allows teens to view how their actions affect those around them:
Depending upon which character(s) viewers relate to, the show depicts just how someone’s words and actions may be perceived by others. It presents a good opportunity to evaluate your own behaviors in accordance with how they may affect others.
- It has a diverse cast:
Unlike many other popular TV shows, 13 Reasons Why utilizes a racially diverse cast to tell a common story. In real life, people suffer the same way as the show’s main character, Hannah Baker, all the time. It’s a problem that affects many people of all different races and backgrounds, and 13 Reasons Why reflects that.
- It presents multiple perspectives:
Some of the show’s viewers may relate to Hannah Baker, but some may find solace in another character. 13 Reasons Why makes it easy to see the trauma from multiple perspectives because it acknowledges that although the show is telling Hannah Baker’s story, each person involved has their own.
- You can connect the characters to reality:
Whether or not you relate personally to the characters, they feel like real people. They are familiar stories, true personalities, and can be very representative of people in your life. There are no heroes or villains in 13 Reasons Why. Some characters may be better than others, but none are perfect, and all of them maintain realistic high schooler traits that serve well to put the story into a real life context.
- The story is told well:
Like most teen shows, you expect a certain element of cheesiness. Luckily, that is not what it gives the audience at all. Most of the actors in the show aren’t big names yet, but after their stellar performances in 13 Reasons Why, everyone should expect to see their names pop up elsewhere.
- It normalizes LGBT+ success in daily life:
Although it is 2017, and many like to think that everyone is seen as equal in the world, the LGBT+ community is still misrepresented in many popular TV shows today. 13 Reasons Why, however, does not tiptoe around the subject of sexuality, nor does it portray those who are not heterosexual as being any different than those who are.
- Hannah Baker is an unreliable narrator:
One element of the show that makes it easy to follow the timeline is narration. In this case, 13 Reasons Why is narrated by the one and only Hannah Baker. A large part of the mystery factor in the show is how there are times when you don’t know whether to believe the accounts made by Hannah. But, like they say in the show, “why would a dead girl lie?”
- It is often melodramatic:
In certain ways, 13 Reasons Why can be unrealistically dramatic. The premise of the show: tapes made by a dead girl floating around a group of high school students without the intervention of adults, is a bit far fetched. Some audience members may find it difficult to look past this and just enjoy the show.
- It is seen in some ways as a revenge story:
Although it is meant to depict the grieving process of multiple people and the story of how things went so wrong, the show often puts heavy focus on the vengeful aspect of Hannah’s tapes. Many of the other characters also capture this thirst for justice for Hannah Baker in the form of revenge. At times, this can take away from the more important messages of the show.
- It has an unrealistic outlook on the causes of suicide:
The show makes out Hannah’s suicide as being completely due to outside factors. What it fails to portray are the many other factors that likely affected her. Mental illnesses such as depression or anxiety are common contributors to suicide. Hannah Baker suffered at the hands of multiple outside forces, however she also suffered from internal forces that pushed her towards her decision.
- It is geared mostly towards teens:
It is good for teens to watch 13 Reasons Why for many reasons––some are listed above. However, it can also be a cause for concern. In some ways, the show does not always send a clear message that’s against teen suicide and for anti-bullying. That is why it’s important to not only watch but evaluate the show on what it does right as well as what it does wrong, especially for younger audiences.
- This show presents an important opportunity to have an open conversation about teen suicide:
With all the good and bad that comes with the show, 13 Reasons Why has opened a door that can lead to a very productive discussion about bullying, suicide, and sexual assault. It is important for parents and educators alike to recognize that they can use this show as a tool to shine a light on subjects that are very prevalent in our society today, yet are all too often covered up.
HCPSS guidelines about 13 Reasons Why: http://rhhs.hcpss.org/news/2017/05/13-reasons-why-informtion-parents