Netflix’s newest smash 13 Reasons Why has gotten all kinds of hype, and after hearing so much about the controversial show, we decided to dive in for a total binge last weekend.
For those of you who haven’t seen it, spoiler alerts ahead.
The series tells the story of a teenage girl who commits suicide. We see her emotional devolution, the people and events that contributed to her fatal decision. She’s the new girl in town and goes through the teenage gauntlet; it’s horrific to watch, but it also feels familiar. While no one should ever have to go through such experiences, they are not uncommon: being alienated by friends, having a romantic first kiss turned ugly through rumors, being harassed by the kids at school, witnessing and being the victim of sexual assault, amongst other (terrible) things.
The show has gotten a lot of press, as different parties weigh in. To its critics, the series is an immense hazard for young people, especially those at risk for suicide; the story is a trigger for individuals struggling with depression and should be avoided at all costs.
While it is provocative and rich in honest and heavy themes, we don’t think this is a reason to avoid watching 13 Reasons Why.
The series does an exceptional job in bringing important topics to light, topics that arguably aren’t discussed enough in a mainstream way. Putting this show on Netflix, with its huge audience, enables and empowers countless people to engage with the subject matter, to ask the hard questions and confront the unhealthy (and not uncommon) behavior rampant in high school (and beyond). It is neither productive nor healthy to sweep these things under the rug, to avoid talking about the difficult issues; repression is not a solution.
There is an instinct to justify some of the bullying behavior like those in the show as “teenage antics,” but it is far more impactful than many realize. The show, which has captured the attention of millions, was able to get a crucial message out to a wider audience than any out-of-touch school program ever could.
This story is real, it is raw and it matters.
It can’t always be about painting a pretty picture, honesty is crucial in this fight. We need to expose the darkness, not run from it; to talk about these things more, not less. We as a society can ALL do better, and that begins with an open dialogue.
Model and actress Paris Jackson (19), who recently shared with Rolling Stone about her struggles with depression and her multiple suicide attempts, took to Instagram to discuss the show. She complimented its boldness and honesty in tackling these issues. “This show was an amazing way to get the message across to bullies that they need to stop doing what they are doing, it really did a good job of showing how impactful words and actions can be to other human beings.”
She also cautioned those who may be currently experiencing feelings of depression and/or suicidal ideations, “Please only watch this show with caution and keep in mind that it may put you in a dark place. if you are struggling please don’t watch it. if you think you can handle it, please by all means check it out.”
Really, the decision is yours. Make sure you feel safe, but don’t shy away from having the difficult conversations. They just might save your life.