By Zainab Iqbal
Published: May 10th, 2017
The new hit Netflix drama series, “13 Reasons Why,” has taken the world by storm. In fact, according to Variety, it is currently the “most tweeted about show of 2017.” But that doesn’t mean it’s good; here’s why.
*This list contains spoilers, and sarcasm. Lots of sarcasm.*
- Hannah Baker’s Tapes – From the first episode, we know that Hannah committed suicide. What we don’t know is the reason. Before she killed herself, she left 13 tapes for everyone who did her wrong, from the photographer who stalked her to the girl who left her in the middle of the road when Hannah refused to get in the car that knocked down the stop sign. She wanted them to know exactly what they did to her. She wanted them to know they were the reason she killed herself. She wanted them to suffer. Now, for someone contemplating suicide, the “tapes” idea might sound appealing. According to a 2009 study by VJ Callanan and MS Davis titled, “A comparison of suicide note writers with suicides who did not leave notes,” 15 to 30 percent of people who kill themselves leave notes. Such notes include a suicide letter. The letter isn’t individually written for every person who pushed them to suicide, however. In fact, according to another study from 2008 by Sandra Sanger and Patricia McCarty Veach titled, “The Interpersonal Nature of Suicide: A Qualitative Investigation of Suicide Notes,” the letter usually contains instructions (burial, finance, etc.). Now, after watching 13 hours of this praised show, they might be more inclined to leave tapes, because what’s better than leaving people to suffer after you die?
- Hannah Baker’s Suicide – Suicide, as we all know, was and is very pop-culture trendy. It’s mentioned in songs—here are a few lines of “Suicidal Thoughts” by The Notorious B.I.G.: “When I die, fuck it I wanna go to hell; Cause I’m a piece of shit, it ain’t hard to fuckin’ tell.” It is present in literature—I’m sure we all know Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”; how romantic? It is also discussed in TV shows and movies such as “The Virgin Suicides.” Never, though, has the intensity of suicide been shown. “13 Reasons Why” shows Hannah getting into the bathtub, and slitting her forearms. It shows her bleeding to death. It shows the blood seeping into the water, and the water turning a reddish color. It shows the reddish color water seeping out of the tub, onto the floor, and out of the bathroom door. How do you think this particular scene would make one contemplating suicide feel? How would it make one react? For someone who had thought about killing themselves in the past, wouldn’t this scene be a trigger? For students who were bullied (and those who currently are being bullied), as well as for those who had never considered suicide, wouldn’t watching Hannah die peacefully change their minds?
- Hannah Baker’s Bullying – Bullying is very common among young students. It is a horrible thing to go through, as children can be extremely cruel to one another. According to DoSomething, over 3.2 million students are bullied each year. The definition of a bully is one who “use[s] superior strength or influence to intimidate [someone], typically to force him or her to do what one wants.” Hannah Baker wasn’t bullied by all of the 13 people on her tapes. But when she was bullied, she could have gone straight to a teacher. She could have told her parents. If the role of “13 Reasons Why” is to teach students to help prevent such things, then why isn’t the role of teachers and counselors stressed?
- Hannah Baker’s Counselor – At the end of the show, Hannah finally decides to go to speak to a counselor. But keep in mind, she already had her mind made up (and her tapes recorded) about suicide. Seek help ONLY right before you want to kill yourself—what a great thing to teach students! When she did go to speak to Mr. Porter (the counselor), she wouldn’t even open up to him. Children who have gone through anything traumatic need to know that there is someone who will listen and help. Instead of conveying that message, this show makes it seem like the victim has to go through everything on his or her own. And that if he/she does decide to go seek help, nobody will listen. Is that the message students should be taught?
- Hannah Baker’s Friend’s Rape- Hannah and her ex-friend, Jessica, were raped. Both by the same guy, but different days. It is the night of a party, and Jessica is drunk and half asleep on her bed. Hannah is hiding in the closet, crying, as she wanted to be alone. She sees Bryce come in. She sees him put himself on top of Jessica. She sees Jessica struggling. She knows Jessica’s being raped. But she doesn’t do anything about it. She could have screamed, ran out, pushed Bryce, or called help. She could’ve unlocked the bedroom door to let Justin in; she didn’t. Whatever happened to the motto, “see something, say something?” Obviously, the whole incident was Bryce’s fault; he’s a rapist. But what does this make Hannah Baker?
- Hannah Baker’s Tweet Explosion- This doesn’t have to do with Hannah Baker’s personal Twitter account. This regards the tweets of fans watching the show:
Me: *tells joke*
Mom: *turns it into life lesson*
Me: "Welcome to your tape."
— 13 Reasons Why (@13ReasonsZone) May 4, 2017
Sure, it’s funny. But is it really? Is it really that funny when you think about Hannah creating 13 tapes for everyone before she kills herself in the bathtub?
- Hannah Baker’s Unspoken Mental Illness – Hannah had gone through many of the worst things any girl can go through in high school. She watched her friend get raped, was raped herself, was groped, and was called many names. Clearly after going through all of this, she was mentally unstable. The show decided to focus entirely on the kids being her sole reason for suicide. What about mental illness? Suicide can result from mental illness, as well as from intense bullying. Surely mental illness would’ve played a big role, don’t you think? So why was it swept under the rug? Why wasn’t it portrayed the way it needed to have been?
“13 Reasons Why” had a huge platform. It had a good plot, but it could’ve been represented in another way. Teen suicide, bullying, and mental illnesses are huge issues. For those who are suffering from any one of these, I believe the show has let them down. And for those who believe this show starts a conversation, maybe ask yourself, exactly what kind of conversation does this start?