I feel pretty clever for thinking up this title. Although I’m sure it’s probably been used somewhere else.
A few weeks ago, Netflix released a TV show called 13 Reasons Why. The story is based on a book that I read 10 years ago in France. I don’t remember much about it, but I remember I wasn’t as horrified as I was when I watched the TV show.
I hated it. Here’s why.
1: It triggers people.
Before I watched the show, during the time I was watching the show and after watching the show, saw so many comments on Twitter about how it was distressing and triggering. People warning others to make sure they’re in the right frame of mind before watching the last few episodes. In my opinion, no TV show should be so graphic and intense that it causes people to feel triggered and warn others to be careful. Especially one aimed at young people.
2: It glamorises suicide.
While I can see how the show might have had the intention of showing people what suicide does to those that are left behind, I can’t help feel that the whole thing was overshadowed by Hannah Baker pouring her heart out over the tapes about how she felt. So eloquent, so calm.
It felt very hauntingly beautiful, in the most disgusting way.
3: It simplifies self-harm.
One of the characters says she cuts herself because that’s what people do instead of killing themselves.
This is such a stereotypical view of something that is much more complicated than that. People self-harm for many different reasons and for a show that has such an audience, they could have dealt with this issue in a much more responsible way.
It sends an awful message about self-harm.
4: Hannah Baker is horrible.
I just couldn’t find myself liking Hannah. I felt her selfish and drowning in her own self-pity. I understand that things in the later tapes, such as being raped, are a justifiable reason for wanting to leave a revenge tape, but some of the reasons were just petty. Boys said she had a nice arse. Her best friends started going out with each other. While these things might be hard for some people to deal with, they seem like very typical teenager experiences and it could be dangerous for teenagers to watch having similar things happen to them, conclude suicide is the answer.
5: Young people are impressionable.
Following on from the point above – I watched this as a stable 30 year old with a history of mental health in my teenage years to mid 20’s, I couldn’t help but think if I had watched this show as a teenager, I feel like it could have been damaging as I always seemed to be attracted to this idea of being a openly misunderstood mess.
6: Calls to mental health helplines have increased.
Headspace, Australia’s National Youth Mental Health Foundation, put out a statement on its website saying it has “received a growing numbers of calls and emails directly related to the program” since it debuted in March.
Is this because more people are being made aware of suicide and wanting to seek help, or are they being triggered by the show?
7: It justifies suicide.
Rather than the show giving a message that suicide isn’t the answer, or things will get better and easier when you leave high school if you are being bullied, or there’s help available to help you deal with things such as rape – the whole show seems to be a attempt at a selfish girl coming to the conclusion that she must end her life.
I can imagine that for those people who struggle with suicidal thoughts may look up to Hannah and use it as a way to justify their own self-destructive behaviour.
8: She plays the victim.
Inspirational TV shows that inspire others to overcome their struggles have a main character that overcomes major trauma and find happiness and peace. Instead, Hannah takes no responsibility for anything, plays the victim, blames everyone else, kills herself and then leaves behind tapes to tell them how they contributed to their death.
Including her parents.
I have no idea what type of person does that.
9: It feels like revenge.
Rather than using the TV show as a way to show awareness of the issues young people face growing up, it seems to be focused on revenge.
When I was growing up, I was in a few friendship groups that made me feel like shit. I was always the joke, the loser, the one that was a bit chubby and rubbish at any sports we played. I regularly had people say things to me like ‘everyone hates you, go home’ while playing out, or people call me fat and ugly. One day, nobody was around and I drew a circle in the middle of the road in chalk. I decided it into 8 sections and wrote things about how I felt in each one.
Nobody takes me seriously.
Everyone laughs at me.
Nobody listens to me.
Things like that. When my friends gathered a few hours later, the saw it and knew it was me and laughed at me. I tried to deny it. One of my friends mothers saw me doing it out of the window.
I don’t know what I was thinking at the time, I was hoping maybe they would see it and then would treat me like a human being with feelings, rather than a piece of shit.
But nothing changed. It wasn’t enough.
If I had watched the TV show in that headspace, I know I would have daydreamed about similar revenge. Not saying I would have done it, but being young is hard and my feelings as a teenager were intense, irrational and far from stable.
I think of al the young people that might be in a similar situation that I was in and despair.
10: The rape scenes.
I am very thankful to say that I have never been a victim of sexual abuse. But I found the rape scenes very hard to watch and I would imagine those that have been through something similar could feel terrible after watching it.
I read an article where the writer had said she cried herself to sleep and had panic attacks after watching the scenes.
11: The suicide scene.
I’ve watched a of TV in my time and seen many TV suicides. Although I see that it could be argued that the show wanted to seem real and authentic, the scene of Hannah cutting herself and blood gushing out of her gaping wounds was just too much for me. A how to guide to suicide?
12: She is a dick to Clay.
Most of the series is based around Clay, who is the one listening to the tapes. It’s clear that he loves Hannah. It’s also clear that he has zero confidence with girls. The tipping point for me is where she screams at Clay to leave the room after they kiss, then implies on the tapes that if he had stayed, she wouldn’t have killed herself. Leaving the only decent character and the one that is kind to Hannah blaming himself.
13: She takes no responsibility for what she has done.
As in the point above, it’s Clays fault for leaving the room like she asked him to. It’s the guidance counsellors fault for not chasing after Hannah – she takes no responsibility or control of her own life or happiness.
One of the most important lessons I’ve learnt in my life is that you are responsible for yourself and happiness. People are often not great at recognising if you’re not doing well mentally and those that are able to see, are often afraid to approach the subject. You have to make that conscious choice to do something about your situation and your happiness, rathe than waiting for others to save you.
Although I feel like the show wanted to send a raw message that evoked sadness and despair, for me, it just seemed to simplify something that is very complicated and did a terrible job at portraying mental illness. The only thing that I took away from 13 Reasons Why is that everyone is awful. It took me to a dark place and never brought me back.
What are your thoughts?