'13 Reasons Why' I Didn't Finish Watching
While 13 Reasons Why is a Netflix original series based on the Y.A. book by Jay Asher with good intentions, it has received backlash for good reason. After four hour-long episodes, I couldn't stand to watch it anymore. Here are 13 reasons why:
The adaptation didn't impress me.
The characters other than Clay and Hannah didn't look like I imagined them. I don't remember any diverse characters in the book or maybe it's just been a hot second since I read it. Students at the school were using iPhones if I remember correctly. Excuse me, didn't this take place in the 90's/early 2000's?
2. Jay Asher was accused of sexual misconduct and might be a predator.
Not a good look. If a book/show features a storyline of a teenage girl being assaulted, it doesn't matter if the author was accused of misusing his power and making women feel uncomfortable.
3. The show wasn't about Hannah in the first place.
The show and the characters in it claim to want justice for Hannah, but it's told from Clay's perspective. It shows him as a love sick boy and in my opinion, Hannah's perspective was needed more.
4. The show was traumatic.
I didn't even make it to the last episode of season one where Hannah committed suicide and yet watching the show made me relive my high school days, the ones where I was dealing with bullying, suicidal thoughts, and crying out for help only to not be heard.
5. The bathtub scene was not necessary.
I don't think this needs explanation. We need to not give anyone any ideas. The show shouldn't have continued after people copycatted her method.
6. The trigger warnings came too late.
Trigger warnings at the beginning of the show came a year later. Yikes. I'm glad that they were implemented, but it happened a little (a lot) too late. And besides, most suicidal people don't want to call a hotline because they are either ashamed or don't want to be a burden (even to someone who wants to help).
7. Kids may internalize certain aspects of the show and be harmed as a result.
Even with trigger warnings, there is no guarantee that kids would call the hotline or talk to anyone about it. When you struggle with mental health, it's hard to talk to anyone. It's hard to trust other people as well as themselves.
8. The show sexualizes and romanticizes Hannah's experience.
The show gives us a beautiful sad girl who was going through pain. Many characters in the show objectify her and care about her only after she's gone. I have a feeling that many viewers wouldn't care if Katherine Langford weren't playing her or if they didn't find Clay's character as conventionally attractive as well. (You're a phenomenal actress Katherine, don't get me wrong, but I would have liked a more average character)
It's sad but true. If a girl who wasn't conventionally beautiful played the character, I doubt there would be as much sympathy and perhaps comments like: "she's ugly, no wonder why she killed herself."
9. Suicide is not revenge.
As someone who dealt with what Hannah was going through, I never thought about making tapes and blaming people for the way that I felt. This is not a very good representation of what it is like to be struggling with mental illness. I thought about writing a suicide note, but never though about blaming anyone other than myself and circumstances that overwhelmed me at the time.
10. Help should have been offered at some point.
I guess the fact that the school didn't have mental health awareness or help offered until after Hannah's suicide is realistic, but the school in the program seemed slightly more progressive in nature. I guess the silver lining is the show allowing educators to know that they should pay extra attention to student's general well being if they want to be good teachers. I would have expected at least pamphlets in the guidance counselor's office.
11. Hannah could have survived. (Yes, really.)
While it doesn't follow the book perfectly, Hannah could have lived and should have lived. We have enough stories of people losing the fight. I'm not blaming Hannah, but I am blaming the creators of the show. I would like to see a spin-off where Hannah lives and becomes an incredible writer of some sort or someone who helps other people through their own mental anguish, but I guess that would be too good to be true. *shrug*
12. The show is used suicide as a means of entertainment.
While I understand that the show had to be overly dramatic to get high ratings, I think this show was inappropriate and problematic. *eye roll* Why is suicide used to entertain people? It's not interesting; it's heartbreaking.
13. The show didn't get better after criticism.
Even after hundreds, probably thousands, of complaints, the show didn't improve at all and even used gun violence to make the show even more entertaining. The way that one character pulled out a gun in the last episode of season 2 only stigmatizes those struggling with their mental health even more.
If you enjoyed the show, I'm glad. If it helped you in any way and convinced you to get help, that's amazing. I just worry that it's more harmful than not for many people, including myself.