After several recommendations and much media attention, I recently finished watching a Netflix series called “13 Reasons Why” – a drama/crime show focusing on a high school girl who commits suicide. Before slitting her wrists in a bathtub and bleeding to death, Hannah Baker records a series of 13 audio tapes, dedicating each one to a different individual. These people were all from her high school, and had played a part in both her life and death. The 13-episode series follows the life of Hannah’s friend Clay, allowing the viewer to listen to each tape alongside the protagonist whilst getting a glimpse into Hannah’s life via flashbacks. In short, Hannah Baker kills herself because of high school drama.
I’m not trying to undermine what the protagonist had gone through; from rumours, to losing friends, to an unfortunate rape during a party. It cannot be denied that the girl dealt with a lot of crap. But suicide? Really? I don’t care how many people attempt to convince me that “it’s not right to judge until you’ve been in that person’s shoes”. Not only do I strongly believe that suicide is never an option, I’m also convinced that killing yourself over teenage drama is selfish, weak and disrespectful to loved ones.
As you can probably tell, I’m a bit conflicted over the series. On one hand, “13 Reasons Why” was captivating; from the suspense-filled story-line, to the acting, to even the filmography itself. I ended up watching all 13 hours of the show in less than 48 hours. Moreover, it made me realize how important it is to be nice to people, and realize that actions always have consequences – both obvious and hidden.
On the other hand, I think the series is sending a wrong message. It seemed to glamourize suicide, as well as stir up sympathy for Hannah Baker. What happened to her was tragic, but it does not make her a good person or a completely innocent victim. Not only did the girl take her own life after an unfortunate 2-year high-school experience, but she also ruined the lives of her supportive, caring parents and shattered the reputation of her school. Likewise, it seemed to dramatize the importance of adolescent drama instead of showing it as a period that eventually passes. Yes, teenagers are mean; they start fights, spread gossip and sometimes even assault each other (which is why we have such strict regulation in place). However, this is not an excuse to take one’s life.
Recording suicide tapes made for an interesting Netflix series, but the idea behind it is somewhat sick. When one of the characters in the show says “she killed herself for attention”, I’m not sure if that statement is an exaggeration or a fair point. Instead of realizing that there are much more important things in life than people’s opinions, being careful with her words and way in which she interacts with people, and ultimately prioritizing her studies to get into college, the girl spends her time crying over the fact that teenage guys are trying to get into her pants and that girls she trusted turned out to be bitchy. Yes, the event at the end was unfortunate, but Hannah had been considering suicide even before she got raped. At the end of the day, SHE COULD HAVE MOVED SCHOOLS.
So yes, I’m conflicted. I’m not going to sit here and pretend like “13 Reasons Why” wasn’t interesting for me to watch – it definitely was, in a weird way. Morbid plots have a tendency to capture attention; it’s just how our brains function. Nonetheless, there is something inherently wrong about the story-line, and noone can convince me otherwise.