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What’s wrong with ‘Thirteen Reasons Why’?

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Thirteen Reasons Why was officially released 31 March 2017 and virtually became an overnight success. It is based on the novel Thirteen Reasons Why  by Jay Asher and was adapted by Brian Yorkey for Netflix. Basically, the show revolves around a student that commits suicide (Hannah Baker) and leaves a series of tapes behind for a fellow student Clay Jensen, to figure out what her reasons are for taking her life. Just because they can, the series is made up of thirteen episodes.

The anticipation of the series was heightened because of celebrities such as Selena Gomez promoting it before release. Selena Gomez was the executive producer of the series and also features on the soundtrack of Thirteen Reasons Why.  Clay gets a first account of Hannah’s pain and therefore we [viewers] get a full account of it. Words such as ‘brutal’ and ‘heavy’ have been used to describe the series but, most commonly, those words have been used in a positive sense. That statement might seem puzzling at first but it makes sense when you consider the significance of the subject matter that is addressed in the series. 

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Some of the things that happen to Hannah seem mild while other things that happen to her are frankly horrific. Topics such as suicide, rape and bullying are topics we are faced with on an every day basis but many of us choose to acknowledge it but not to divulge deeper into the topic. They are difficult topics to process and deal with because of the horrific nature of the topics. If you’re one of the people that choose to do that, you’re not wrong but you’re also not right. Many have commended Thirteen Reasons Why on addressing those topics.

Some have, however, suggested that this portrayal may be problematic as it may appear to be glorifying the idea of suicide. Especially the point that justice is only set in motion once someone has actually taken their own life. Another point is that if you go unnoticed in life, you can go noticed in death.  Dr. Victor Schwartz, medical director of the JED Foundation, noted that ‘the whole thing is an extended revenge fantasy.’ The show could be harmful to people who are already dealing with suicidal thoughts. 

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Hannah assigns blame to 13 different individuals and although she intends for those individuals to feel guilt, that type of guilt can have crippling repercussions.  Mental experts also questioned the graphic details of her suicide. Although, Brian Yorkey commented that this was intentional Schwartz noted that: “For some small portion of people, they might find this appealing in a way.”

The last point that Teenzone will be addressing is the topic of binge watching the series (as many of you have). By binge watching the series you are not giving yourself enough time to cope with what you have watched before you move onto the next one. Experts suggest that you give yourself time to process each episode. 

Although there have been a lot of negatives expressed in the previous paragraphs, we can at least admit that it does provide a safe platform to discuss suicide. It gives viewers a safe environment to discuss mental illness or friend/family issues with people that won’t judge you. It also highlights the ever-prevalent issue of bullying. Be kind, always. 

By: Kriszti Bottyan

 

 

 

 

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