These past couple of weeks, I have watched a new series by Netflix called 13 Reasons Why. I had been hearing that I needed to see it from some of the 6th grade students I had been substituting teaching and wondered what was all the fuss about. I had also heard that some school boards were sending letters home about it, and wanted to throw my opinionated hat in the ring.
Your teenagers should not be watching this show.
Here is why:
- It not only glamourizes suicide, but implies that revenge can be sought after death. The main character, Hannah, left behind 13 reasons why she decided to end her life. Each tape, and reason, was dedicated to a person who helped contributed to her suicide.
- During the last episode, you actually see the main character commit suicide by cutting her wrists in the bathtub. It was easily the most graphic cinematic moment I have ever seen (aside from Saving Private Ryan’s opening scene).
- The characters depicted are stereotypes, shallow and poorly developed. I could not identify with any of them, and I was a fairly well-adjusted teenager.
- The how glazes over the impact of bullying via social networking or ‘online bullying’. Because, isn’t that where most of it happens now? That is where the entirety of bullying experience I have in 8 years of teaching comes from now. It is all done online because it is so easy to have a pseudonym…HELLO trolls!?
- The nuance that is in the telling of the original story is lost in the stereotypical characters. Like almost every film, the book is better even though it was told by a middle-age white male who more-than-likely has not experienced sexual assault.
- Suicide is not revenge or peaceful, which the show depicts it as. It is the ending of a life that could have been filled with so much goodness brought to the world.
- The acting was terrible. Period.
- The show does not give a productive conclusion for men and women who have been victims of sexual assault. This theme recurred throughout the show, and there was absolutely no closure for the characters who experienced it. Nothing happened to the rapist who raped both Hannah and Jessica Davis.
The only upside I personally see to this show is that it makes you realize how important kindness is… but we all knew that didn’t we?
Don’t waste your time.