It’s not often that a show can reduce me to a snivelling mess. The Green Mile destroyed that side of me back when I was a teenager. It really takes something very emotional to make me cry these days.
Netflix started advertising 13 Reasons Why at the end of March, and from the trailer I thought that it was a romantic chick flick type thing. I wasn’t expecting such a rollercoaster of emotions.
The non-spoiler synopsis of this show is a young girl called Hannah has committed suicide, and has left no note explaining why, however bullying is suspected by her parents. Then seven tapes show up on the doorstep of Clay, and they’re from Hannah, explaining the reasons why she took her own life. The rest of the show is Clay listening to the tapes, and the many other characters attempting to hide their own secrets which could be revealed in those tapes.
If you haven’t watched this yet, don’t read beyond this point. I recommend that you go and watch it and then we can discuss it together.
Each actor does a brilliant job at portraying their characters, and demonstrating some really difficult subject matter. !3 Reasons Why tackles cyber bullying, mental health, rape and suicide as well as some other things. It’s just so well done.
Hannah’s bullying begins when a perfectly innocent thing gets taken out of context, resulting in her being slut-shamed by the entire school. This event snowballs into creating all the other conflicts for her in the novel; her relationships really suffer. Cyber bullying was definitely not something that existed when I was a teenager, and adults are only now figuring out how to protect this new generation from itself. Hannah’s story could easily be any teenager with a rumour being spread about them. Hopefully now there are means and ways of tackling this without considering suicide as an option.
A few of the episodes do come with disclaimers ready to warn viewers of sensitive subject matters. Two episodes in particular show graphic representations of rape. These are not comfortable episodes to watch and made me genuinely feel sick after watching, which is what I should be feeling. Both girls that suffer rape really struggle with their emotions afterwards, wondering who to tell and feelings of shame and anger. Jessica eventually tells a trusted adult and hopefully gets the ball rolling to convict Bryce. However for Hannah, it’s the final nail in the coffin; she describes it as destroying her soul.
Rape is a very sensitive subject, and it’s great how many programmes now are showing it in a new light. Many women who have come forward have been disbelieved and their rapist has walked free. The reasons are very complicated, but one that does stand out is the idea of slut shaming once again; it was the woman’s fault, she lead him on, she was wearing provocative clothing, she’d been drinking…. it’s all horrible and shouldn’t happen. These sort of comments and results prevent women coming forward and struggling with whatever emotions they may be feeling. Hannah is essentially told that no one would believe her anyway because of the rumours surrounding her, and because Bryce is a school hero. Who would believe her over him?
Hannah’s rape eventually leads to her suicide, which did have me bursting into tears. Nothing was hidden from the viewers; everything happens on screen from her running the bath to slitting her wrists. I hated this scene, but also loved the fact that it wasn’t romanticised at all, showing how painful killing yourself would be. I also love how it showed what impact a suicide has on the people that you love. Hannah’s mother and father’s reactions were heartbreaking and so real. Victims of suicide go beyond the actual person; they effect lots of people around them. Those left behind feel confused and guilty, maybe wondering what they could have done differently. I love how 13 Reasons Why shows all of this and more.
Another issues that the series raised was Mental Health and seeking help. The school does have a councillor, although you do wonder what training he actually underwent, because all of his advise was pretty rubbish. He doesn’t recognise to signs of Hannah wanting to kill herself and lies about the fact that he spoke to her about bullying. Clay himself has a history of depression and anxiety, and this is brought up quite a bit by his parents. I do really like how the creators of the series showed how mental health issues can make you more secretive and more willing to hide the bad stuff from the ones that you love, even though they’re probably the best ones to give you support. Clay’s relationship with his mother reminded me so much of how I was with my own Mam when my anxiety was at it’s worst.
This series really was fantastic. I really couldn’t bring myself to watch it again, but it was something that I had to watch. It really put my own issues into perspective, and has made me more mindful of other people’s feelings. We really don’t know what another person may be going through behind closed doors, so we shouldn’t judge others, and should be more understanding as a community.
This was definitely not easy watching, but I highly recommend it to everyone.
I’m sorry that this was a bit deep today, but I really wanted to share some of my thoughts after watching this show. What did you think about it?
Have a lovely day guys, and if you are effected by any of the issues raised in this series, the series has a website to offer help: www.13reasonswhy.info