There are spoilers in this sssooo don’t read it if you care about the series being spoilt also going to be a very long post sooo omg:
It’s been blowing up social media. It’s been the reason why many teenagers globally have burst into tears.
Did I like it? No. Not at all. The idea and the plot is fantastic and I really think it could’ve been done better. Stylistically, it was beautiful. When the were in the past, while Hannah Baker was still alive, things are warmer toned while things in the present are cooler, more blue. The diversity and the opposition to stereotypes is remarkable. But the message itself is wrong. It has been applauded as an unconventional way to bring light to a hard topic to discuss. I disagree with this. 13 Reasons Why is an irresponsible show that gives teenagers the wrong idea.
To catch up those who haven’t been watching: Hannah Baker commits suicide and leaves nothing but a set of tapes behind. On the tapes, she details the build up and reasons why she killed herself. She passes these tapes onto a trusted person who has a second set ready to publish to the world if they don’t all listen to them or if the tapes get destroyed. Trusted person passes it onto reason number 1, who listens through, passes it on. Until it reaches Clay.
He is so torn up over these tapes that he tries to bring justice to everything by attempting to hurt the people back or trying to make them recognise what they did. He listens to the tapes slowly, dreading his own. Meanwhile, Hannah’s parents never received a reason and now are filing a lawsuit against the school.
So now you have an idea of what happened, I can express my dislike for it. Hannah Baker is a bitch. She left tapes for the people she thinks destroyed her life. Tapes that could destroy not just their mental health but their lives if they are found out. It was a selfish thing to do. She did it as revenge, not to make them realise what they did wrong, but to hurt them back. She was so hell bent on revenge and so self obsessed in her thinking that she didn’t even give her parents a reason as to why she died. And before you say the tapes are like a suicide note, it’s not. If she gave them a suicide note, they could’ve read it, burnt it and felt the guilt that she was looking for. An understanding and insight into her thinking. But instead, she gives them tapes, to listen to one person at a time, to develop resentment for everyone else. And then she has a backup set to be released to the public if they don’t listen to what she wants. And then when the tapes have all been listened to, the last person who gets to hear them is a teacher at her school. It’s a twisted thing to do that is far far from a suicide note.
Hannah Baker tells her side of the story so everyone sympathises with her but no one ever thinks about everyone else’s side. Take her friend Zach. Zach tried over and over to reach out to Hannah. Hannah humiliated him by yelling at him and screaming when he offered help. So, in feeling upset, and wrongfully so, he steals affirmations from her affirmation bag. She puts a note in there for him explaining why she needed them and how they were important to her and on the tape explicitly says he threw it away. He didn’t. The tapes expresses one side of the story, some parts of the tapes not even justifiable.
Example, she blames a boy named Justin for letting his friend rape Justin’s girlfriend. Justin tried to stop it, tried to fight a boy much bigger than him whilst drunk, he was shoved out of the room violently and the door was locked. Sure, he is still at fault. Not defending that. He shouldn’t have let it happen but he was weak. Hannah Baker also witnessed it. She was hiding in the closet, watching. Didn’t scream, didn’t yell, didn’t record, did text for help. She had so many options and yet she pinned the blame on Justin when she is just at fault. She also let the rape happen. And that was the subject of one whole tape. It had nothing to do with her and yet? She was just drunk and scared, so it’s okay. But Justin was drunk and scared too.
And so, Clay’s tape. He did nothing. She says that he doesn’t deserve to be on the list. Clay and her end up kissing, the precursor to her ending up in the closet while her peer got raped. They were kissing and she soves him away, starts crying. He asks what he can do, does all the right things. She pushes him away completely. And then says that he should’ve stayed. That he should’ve stuck around. A whole tape about how he should’ve stayed with her even though she embarrassed him and shoved him away physically and emotionally. Sorry boo, doesn’t work like that. You can’t make a person guilty for something they did.
What was the point in mentioning these scenarios? The series paints her suicide as the collective fault of a bunch of individuals. But that’s wrong. Hannah killed herself. No one else killed her. Sure, she was upset and sad by everything that happened but she has to take responsibility for herself. She made just as many mistakes, she is flawed, she is also a little whiny. Her killing herself doesn’t excuse her from that very fact: she killed herself.
Last tape, she has been raped and tries to get help from the school counselor. She struggles to talk about being raped. The first thing he thinks of is that she had sex with a boy and regretted it. Which is a very very fair assessment considering most teenagers have sex. And she didn’t give him much more information. And yet, it’s a feminist issue because obviously since she’s a girl she’s blamed for the rape even though it wasn’t blaming? So she tries to get help, something she should’ve done ages ago, and it fails. What message does that give to watchers? Don’t get help because if you do it’ll fail and you’ll end up killing yourself??
And mental illness is never mentioned once even though 90% of suicides are done by someone mentally ill, and clearly there was something wrong with her. And the whole damn message of the series is that if you be kind, you’ll stop someone from killing themself. Sorry, that’s not how it works. If you’re mentally ill, you can’t just be kind and everything will be better. Being kind can help, of course. It’ll be support for the person. But it won’t stop suicides and trying to tell people that is irresponsible. You can be kind but your friend who is struggling with suicidal thoughts needs professional help. Like help from someone that isn’t a teenager and is qualified to help because that’s the only way people are going to get better. An unqualified teenager who is emotionally unstable like every other teenager trying to help another emotionally unstable teen isn’t going to help anyone.
I get where they were trying to go and I applaud them for the well made series, applaud them for talking about something that’s hard to talk about but they went about it all wrong. They did more harm than they did good. They have given the idea that it’s okay to pass off the responsibility of killing yourself to others, that there’s one perspective and that’s it, that getting help is useless, that being kind is all you need to stop suicide. It’s just all so ridiculous.
I know this was long. Sorry. Thoughts?