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!