#CurrentlyWatching: 13 Reasons Why

I debated for a very long time with myself whether I should do a post about 13 Reasons Why or not. The first thing I have to make absolutely abundantly clear is that I do NOT recommend everyone just run off and watch that show. Fact is that watching it was quite the experience for me and I found value in it, but I can also see how this is very unfit for certain people. It’s not only an uncomfortable topic, but it’s also very raw, realistic and graphic in its depictions. So, I really want to urge you to carefully read the trigger warnings (as always at the end of the post) before deciding if this is something for you!

13 Reasons Why is based on the YA bestseller of the same title written by Jay Asher and is an original Netflix series, produced by Selena Gomez. As the title already suggests, it has 13 episodes in its first season, although I believe that a sequel is not only very likely but highly necessary at this point. Most of the time when I have done these posts, I haven’t read the comic/book beforehand, but that’s not the case here. I was about 18 or 19 years old when I read 13 Reasons Why and I did not enjoy reading it very much. In my mind there was just something fundamentally off with the story, but I could never put my finger on it, so I ended up giving it a pretty mediocre rating (I’ve never reviewed it though). So, when the show was announced, I had mixed feelings, but as soon as I saw the trailer, I knew that this was going to be … different.

Hannah Baker decided to end her life. The show explores how the people in her life deal with it, especially upon exploring the reasons why.

For those of you who haven’t read the book, it was told solely from Clay’s POV and stretched over the course of a single night. Now, that’s the first thing the show changed for the better. 13 Reasons Why spans over several weeks and shows the story from multiple angles. This was truly necessary to accurately depict all the layers and background stories of the characters. I especially appreciated the performance of Hannah’s parents which was entirely lacking in the written format. Everything they went through felt so devastating and real. The actors and actresses of this show all deserve some sort of award for their performance though! I felt so very deeply for them, because you really get the chance to explore each of their stories and see their struggles. None of them, not even the best of them, are perfect but have some very realistic flaws. So, even if you end up utterly hating the guts of someone (those who watched know who I am talking about), it still means the actor/actress did their job right! I could go on about my favourites *cough* Tony and Jeff *cough* now or about the people that made me feel sick, but that’s really not what this post is supposed to be.

There are so many ways I could describe my viewing experience – moving, disturbing, brilliant, unflinching, profound but also massively important. Rarely have I felt like teenage-hood was portrayed so realistically and accurate, with all its ups and downs. It’s a tale of cause and effect. While I don’t agree with the way Hannah went about this – I found it quite manipulative but was glad that her truth and actions were challenged, which they weren’t in the book – she unabashedly showed that what we say and do has consequences. How we treat others matters! And maybe even more importantly it shows that communication is key. You don’t even always have to say something back, but if someone comes to you and opens up, you listen and you believe them. You don’t have to agree with everything, you don’t have to like everyone – people experience life differently and people are flawed and make mistakes, that is something we just need to accept. I’ve basically binged that entire show in less than 24 hours and my heart is still torn a week later. There are scenes I doubt I will ever be able to get out of my head and I don’t know if that’s a good or a bad thing. But that show did something, I simply couldn’t stop watching.

As a final side note I just really want to mention that I loved the soundtrack! (Can’t stop listening to Lord Huron again …)

As you are aware by now, the show revolves around the topic of suicide, but it also features scenes of rape, emotional and physical abuse. Netflix provided trigger warnings of their own, but not for all the episodes and therefore, in my opinion, neglected to do so on a couple smaller but nevertheless still upsetting scenes. Even if these scenes are necessary for the show, I want you to understand that there is NO sugarcoating. 13 Reasons Why is brilliant in part, because they very much deal in realism, but it also means they intensely show the bad stuff. You can often get by with skipping scenes, but if you are ever not sure that you can handle viewing or even listening to such moments, avoid the scenes or maybe even the show at all costs! I understand that something that might not seem like such a big deal to me can have a much deeper impact on others, so by clicking here, you can find time stamps for the most graphic scenes in episodes 9, 12 and 13. And by clicking here you can read a summary of almost ALL triggers throughout the show (includes Spoilers as to who is on which tape). Stay safe while watching!

What are your thoughts on 13 Reasons Why? Let’s talk about that!

66 thoughts on “#CurrentlyWatching: 13 Reasons Why

  1. Excellent post. I actually finished watching this show the day before yesterday, and also posted a review on it yesterday on my blog. I completely agree with you on how this show isn’t suitable for all audiences, and yet it is so real and important and extremely relevant to today’s teenagers that I feel like everyone should give it a try (ie, if you’re in the right mind space). I actually had to fast forward one scene in the 13th or 14th episode because it just got too disturbing for me, but the message and emotions portrayed in this show are so real. I loved your review 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you! I am really glad you liked my review. I was a bit nervous about posting it, because I knew this wasn’t an easy topic for some people out there.
      I think I know exactly which scene you are talking about and I am assuming that it’s the same I struggled with the most. I also agree that it’s such a great portrayal of today’s world for teenagers. I think some adults don’t realise how grueling it can be, especially if you throw technology in the mix. But yeah, you DEFINITELY have to be in the right head space to watch this, which is why I don’t want to consider it required viewing.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Great post! I have been watching and loving it too. I also love the soundtrack! I’ve never read the book and at this point I think I would find it lacking. One thing that is unbelievable to me, is how popular media is completely missing the point of this show which has such powerful themes.
    I actually read something entitled “Ship Goals, Hannah and Clay” are they frikin kidding me? Have they watched the show? It’s a dead girl! It’s really disgusting so I very much appreciate your informed and sensitive coverage.
    Excellent job!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much! I was quite confused about some of the reactions to the show as well and I wanted to share my thoughts, but felt a little nervous because I know that the subject can be difficult for some. I am glad you felt like I covered it in a good way 😀

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I find all the big & influential magazines are trashing it for being too graphic/upsetting and considering the subject matter, that makes me so mad. Is suicide/rape suppose to be pretty? -_- honest and well done review!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I’m still watching this show – like Clay, I need a while to get through a story with such heavy topics. The show deals more with what’s happening in the present rather than the tapes but I think I prefer the show over the book. It’s such an honest representation of teenagers and its so important, but of course, if only one can handle it.
    Everyone’s acting is phenomenal in the show! And I especially love that they included Hannah and Clay’s parents as important parts of the story.
    The soundtrack is amazing. Great review!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Thank you so much for writing this post, Kat. I feel like everyone’s watching it and I don’t want to feel too out of the loop, but…well, I don’t think I could actually watch that kind of show due to all the trigger warnings you mentioned. Thank you for doing this post 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re welcome, Marie! You know me, I just want to share the shows I love, but I also recognise that people have different tastes and opinions. Especially when it comes to such a sensitive matter like this one, I just want to be sure that everyone knows what they are getting into and that no one gets hurt. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Awesome post!! I haven’t watched this yet- but I’m so glad it’s worth checking out- especially since I was like you and did not like book- if someone else that felt the same way about the book liked the show, then there’s a lot of promise to it! Anyway, one of my issues was that I didn’t think the format conveyed the message well- so I am very open to watching it.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’ve been thinking about watching the show but was torn because of my own past experiences. Honestly your description of the show has me leaning more toward watching it although I would have to skip graphic scenes (as I do with most movies that have them). I am more interested in the show because of your review though so thanks 🙂❣

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so, so much for your comment ❤ you cannot imagine how much it means to me. I hope you will enjoy the show if you decide to watch it, but always remember that your personal health and safety is more important than anything! I hope that the link with the time stamps will help a little bit with the graphic scenes.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I finished it all yesterday and holy crap!!! One of the best and worse things I’ve watched in a long time. My heart broke in so many different ways and I wanted to punch a few of the people

        Liked by 1 person

      • That very much seems to mirror my experience with the show! I had some real trouble looking at certain actors afterwards, even if I knew they weren’t their characters. I still hope they’ll do a season 2.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I liked the book well enough, but I feel like I’m going to love this even more! It sound so amazing. Deals with difficult topics for sure, but taking the realistic and straight-forward approach is better than sugarcoating these issues that are very much real and very much not sugarcoated when it happens in real life, you know? I loved this post so much, gave me a better idea on the show! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I haven’t finished watching the show yet (so I may come back and comment again), but I remarked on Twitter a few days ago that I was particularly struck by the portrayal of Hannah’s character. Granted, she’s manipulative. Granted, suicide is not the answer to her problems. What I appreciated was how she doesn’t appear depressed in her daily life. I think too often we see depictions of depression that are extreme and obvious, but as that wasn’t the case in my adolescent struggle with mental illness, I appreciated the representation in the show (at least, of the few episodes I’ve seen).

    You’re absolutely right though, it’s definitely not a show for everyone. I haven’t even gotten to the rough stuff yet. I’m definitely pacing myself to make sure that I’m doing ok with watching it. I can imagine how triggering it could be, but I hope that people who’ve never experienced depression, rape, or suicidal thoughts end up watching the show. I think it really delves into what it’s like to have depression in a way that could be powerful for non-depressed viewers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment! I agree that the portrayal of Hannah made a lot of sense and showed a side of depression that is not necessarily common in mainstream media, as they tend to be much more extreme. I think that many magazines and sites that reviewed the show didn’t realise how accurate and realistic it is in terms of portraying several aspects of life, not just the ones of teenagers.
      I very much agree and hope that this show will open some people’s eyes. I understand if there are certain people who just don’t feel comfortable watching it, but for all those who can, there is so much to learn.
      I hope you’ll continue to enjoy the show! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Kat,
    Thanks for your thoughtful review of the show. I stumbled upon this review after I watched the show, looking for more insight into the book and the characters. While this show also effected me deeply (and broke my heart a few times) I think the message is important for young adults to hear. I work as a teacher at an elementary school and while I don’t think this show is appropriate for that age, The message is still relevant. You see, my school is Title 1 and many of our students come from very poor families and/or live in foster care, homeless shelters, or where adopted by family members. These students face trauma again and again. They come to school in dirty clothes, in bad moods, and don’t understand how to control their actions and emotions. We never know what they are going through… Just bringing awareness to the fact that our actions effect people is important for students to understand. This show reminds me that building meaningful relationships with students is just as important and teaching them math and reading.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Natalie,
      thank you for your very thoughtful comment. I am afraid it’s true that the show and unfortunately also the book aren’t suitable for the age group you are teaching. However, you are not the first person to point out how important it is to spread the message that is conveyed. I think many people underestimate how deeply words can cut when they are spoken to the wrong person on the wrong day. I am glad you took such a positive message from the show and I am sure you are doing the best possible job you can. I wish you and your students all the best and hope that they can all find that group of people that will be their rock and support when life is treating them unkindly. ❤

      Like

  11. I remember reading the book in one go back in the day when it first came out. So I was pretty excited about this TV show coming out. But as you wrote, it deals with heavy topics and was rather suprised how graphic it all is (especially the last episode). It’s the kind of show that is difficult too watch, because it raises so many important points that you can connect with.
    13 Reasons Why gave me goosebumps! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I’ll be watching episode 12 next, I believe, so thank you for the warnings. This is a very important show and I’m glad they didn’t stray away from the important topics or scenes because they are necessary.

    Liked by 1 person

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