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After binge-watching 13 Reasons Why, one thought comes to mind: this is real life. Netflix reintroduced the idea that when taken too far, a person can isolate oneself for good. The show is executively produced by singer/actress Selena Gomez.
The series unveils the story of Hannah Baker, a teenage girl who commits suicide. Before slitting her wrists in her bathroom, she decides to record on cassette tapes, the thirteen reasons that led to her death. The story is swapped from Clay and Hannah’s perspective. The audience soon figures out Clay is one of the reasons Hannah decided to end her life.
The show does a remarkable job at characterization. Each character, your favorite or the most hated, has a backstory as to why they are the way they are. Take for instance, Justin. Since he is the first reason on the tape and the reason Jessica (his girlfriend) gets raped, it’s easy to dislike him. However, the director throws in the backstory of Justin constantly not knowing what love is. His mother allows him to get abused and mistreated by her boyfriend which is a direct result on how Justin treats people in his life. We as viewers become so invested in Hannah’s story, that when she slits her wrists, we feel it. It is a heart-wrenching scene watching her in pain as the tub fills with her blood.
Say what you want about the show, but it depicts more than high-school drama. The show tackles sexism, rape, graduation, sexual identity issues, money problems and more. It’s easy to say in the beginning episodes: “Hannah brought this on herself by hanging out with the people she did.” Nonetheless, the viewer has to keep in mind, that at 17 years old, these are problems that most high-schoolers encounter. The desire to be accepted and liked are unavoidable.
The importance of friendship and wanting someone to talk to come in very handy. Hannah doesn’t know how to feel when she is embarrassed. Instead of moving on, she takes it to heart, like any young teenage girl would. While trying to maintain healthy friendships, crushes, school and family life, Hannah comes to the conclusion that it is all too much.
The school is depicted as a place that needs escaping from. The students have intense ways of bullying as seen when Hannah is put on the “best and worst list.” In this school, it makes it okay for girls to become a target of sexual assault by the highly praised jocks. Even after Hannah’s suicide, the principal of the school, is ready to offer a settlement to Hannah’s parents rather than have the school’s reputation tarnished on the news by a trial. Students are depicted as people who can’t handle their consequences and love to keep secrets. As a result, another suicide besides Hannah’s takes place. There is a domino effect.
The problem with the show is Hannah’s reasonings. Over fifty percent of reasons lead back to her being mistreated by a guy and sexually attacked. As viewers indulge in the show, especially a female, it shows that women will always be a target. Hannah doesn’t find a way out. In her second to last reason, she gets raped. The show abruptly tries to find a way to make peace out of a non-peaceful situation. The show comes to an end with the tapes getting circled around important people such as Hannah’s parents and the counselor. Everyone becomes aware of the tapes and knows what each child has done in contribution to Hannah’s death. Throwing in another suicide attempt at the end reveals that this is a repeated cycle. There’s no hope. High school is depicted as sink or swim.
Another downside to the series is that there are no plot twists. It’s easy to guess what’s coming next. The viewers can guess that based on how nice of a guy Clay is, that his tape would be that she fell for him the most.
So on a scale of one to ten, the rating is a solid 7.2. It is an impactful reminder about sexism and the amount of pressure that a teenager has to deal with. 13 Reasons Why can feel a bit dragged out in the beginning, but definitely finds a way to pick up as Hannah’s story becomes more in depth. People lose sight of their actual choices. So if you’re interested in taking thirteen hours of your life to put yourself in the position of what it means to be a teenage girl in America, the series is worth your while.