Something truly remarkable happened on the 31st of March, 2017. An original series was released on one of the fastest growing online networks in the world.
If you are active on social media, you must have heard about the show. It is, after all, the most tweeted one of 2017 yet. Maybe casually glanced at the memes? Maybe seen the trailer on YouTube while browsing a random video? Maybe news articles about the mature and graphic nature of the show? Or maybe, you are completely oblivious to its existence.
If you have seen the series, you are feeling things that you cannot explain. If not, well, I’m going to keep this as spoiler-free as possible.
I just recently finished watching the show, which is ironic, because I just recently started watching the show. Advice to anyone planning to watch
#13ReasonsWhy : Do not, & I repeat, DO NOT binge watch the entire thing in one go. It’s too much to take.
Unfortunately, I did not get a similar disclaimer and ended up watching all 13 episodes back to back without stopping. I could not stop actually. If I get engrossed into a show, it is extremely hard for me to pull away.
And I became emotionally invested in Hannah’s tapes. Her story could just as easily be the story of every girl. She may have taken drastic measures, but at some point in our lives, we have all been Hannah Baker. There is a fatal flaw in the way our society works.
*mild spoilers ahead*
The show, produced by Selena Gomez, has gained a massive amount of attention for its hard-hitting portrayal of bullying and abuse among teenagers in high schools, and how it can push a person over the edge. Despite paving the way for a more open discussion about mental health, abuse, and self-harm, the show has received a lot of flak for the scene in which we see Hannah committing suicide. It is something we know is coming and as a viewer, we are prepared for it, yet it hits where it hurts. The show does not shy away from demonstrating exactly how she kills herself. We feel her agony as she slits her wrists vertically, one after the other, and blood gushes out immediately. We see her face in a turmoil. We hear her screams of pain. In that moment, we feel each and every thing that Hannah is feeling. Until she isn’t.
The moment is strong, with powerful acting by the series’ lead Katherine Langford. The concern, however, that many people are voicing is one, the scene comes across as a “How To” guide for killing yourself, and two, it can be triggering for some people, and as a result, could result in impressionable teens trying to emulate it in real life.
Now to be honest, I understand where this is coming from. It is a psychological fact that seeing or getting to know about someone’s suicide could lead a person to end their life. And seeing it go down in high-definition is definitely no help. So viewer’s discretion is advised. Even the show has a strong disclaimer in the beginning of episodes 12 and 13, owing to their graphic and mature depictions. But because it is the age of Internet, it is impossible to control who is accessing the content. And there lies the danger.
I have a different concern with the show, however. With Reason No. 12, to be specific. No, the graphic portrayal is not my point of contention. My issue lies with the inclusion of this arc. Once Reason 12 came into place, it did not come across like a final straw, but rather a major driving force in Hannah’s decision to end things. This show had a real chance to show the dark side of mental illness, but instead, they went in for a full-blown tangible reason.
Of course, these are minor short-comings that are expected with a show of this nature. None of this takes away from the fact that 13 Reasons Why is one of the best TV shows in recent times.
It forces you to think how major the repercussions of seemingly minor instances can end up being. And it really makes you aware about your own actions.
I started thinking, if push comes to shove, who all would be on my tapes. I was easily able to list down names of many people who deserve to get their own tape. And that’s when I realized I could just as easily be on someone else’s tapes! That realization shook me for a good amount of time.
Very rarely do we come across such gritty shows accurately depicting the hard-ships of young adults, and even more rarely do they leave such a long lasting impact. It is one of the reasons why the show is a must-watch, albeit viewer’s discretion is strongly advised.
Author’s Note : For people who are sensitive, vulnerable or likely to be triggered, it is highly recommended that you do not watch the show. Also, if you’re feeling down, remember that you are not alone. Please visit http://13reasonswhy.info for help.