13 Reasons Why is fantastic and doesn’t deserve all this criticism

13 Reasons Why was released all in one go on Netflix at the end of March and has heavily criticised for “glamorising suicide” and for its unflinching portrayals of sexual assault, and the haters, mostly parents, schools and academics, are still talking about it weeks later. I’m not much of a binge watcher but I finished the last nine episodes this weekend, which is a testament to how good it is, and now I feel like I need to defend it.

*SPOILERS* 

I was planning to just write a list about why I loved it so much but I feel like I need to address the suicide issue first. I’m in agreement with producer Selena Gomez and actor Miles Heizer (who plays Alex) who believe it does the opposite of glamorising suicide. That wrist-cutting scene is fucking horrific. I had seen headlines about its graphic nature but I still wasn’t prepared for how bad it was. It was so shocking and gross and the first time I have seen the harsh reality of a person slitting their wrists onscreen. Usually, when it’s portrayed, the film cuts away and you just see the aftermath. This showed the entire thing for what it was – painful and upsetting – and it really affected me. In no way does the show make it seem cool or peaceful. The scene where her mum and dad find her was awful and I properly burst into tears. The whole show is literally about how her death has affected those around her. I don’t see how anyone could call that glamorising.

Now that I’ve got that out of the way, I have other reasons to praise the show:

  • Like the suicide, the portrayals of sexual assault were unflinching, ugly and brutally realistic. They did not hold back and gloss over it and I think it’s a very powerful way to educate teenagers about consent. Jessica (Alisha Boe) was clearly too drunk to consent, Hannah (Katherine Langford) tried to get out of the hot tub but Bryce (Justin Prentice) pulled her back in. Young people need to see this stuff and learn about it. That vacant look on Hannah’s face while she’s being raped is haunting and I can still picture it.
  • None of the characters were completely bound by their cliques. Usually in high school dramas, the jocks and cheerleaders don’t mix with the geeky honour board kids or the nerds, but in the show they do, which is more realistic. Sure, Justin (Brandon Flynn) isn’t buds with Clay (Dylan Minnette) but they talk and Clay even gets to make out with hot cheerleader Sheri (Ajiona Alexus)!
  •  Hardly any of the characters were obvious stereotypes – most of the characters changed a lot throughout the series. I wanted to hate Justin but by the end I felt sorry for him, same for Jessica, I thought Bryce was a douche who looked out for his pals, but you learn that’s totally not true and I thought Alex was gay due to his appearance, but it was actually the less obvious Tony (Christian Navarro).
  • The acting is so fricking good. I would like to nominations for Langford, Boe, maybe Minnette, maybe Flynn please as well as Hannah’s parents (Kate Walsh and Brian D’Arcy James) for that suicide scene alone. I didn’t rate the acting in the first few episodes but by the end, I was like holy shit and replaying scenes all the time.
  • It has an epic soundtrack – so many awesome songs in perfect moments.
  • It sheds light on really important topics – obviously suicide and rape are the big ones but social media, slut-shaming, name calling, cyberbullying. I think parents should really give this a watch.
  • In the first few episodes, I thought it was too depressing and Hannah was over-reacting to stuff. Like the Alex tape or Zach’s (Ross Butler) tape, I thought it was quite trivial and lame, but it’s not until you see the bigger picture and discover what has happened to her since that you get it.
  • The last five episodes were absolutely horrific and so much heavier and worse than I expected. It is intense and a lot to take in so I imagine those younger than me may have a hard time dealing or processing it but I like how upfront and honest it is. It makes you want to talk about it. I thought it was going to be a simple, dark teen drama but it’s way more mature than that. (FYI to parents – the show has an 18 rating in the UK).
  • It is so affecting that I am still thinking about it, going over scenes in my head, thoughts whirling around in my head while I’m trying to sleep. That’s how you know it’s a good show.

I would have liked to see Bryce gets some justice and Hannah’s parents to find some peace so I’m hoping there will be a season two, which I feel is likely given how it was left with Alex shooting himself. I wanted things to be a bit more tied up, I think that’s why I’m still thinking about it, so hopefully season two will achieve that. I don’t want more than two seasons though.

Comments

  1. I haven’t seen the show yet but the book was good.

Trackbacks

  1. […] LOVED 13 Reasons Why, I even wrote a gushing piece about it just last week, and it has now been confirmed that a season two is on the way. It’s hardly surprising […]

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