Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why” – A Review of a Popular TV Show involving Teenager Suicide

Today we’re taking a look at 13 Reasons Why, a Netflix television show that takes a gripping look at how a group of high school teenagers deal with the suicide of one of their classmates.

The girl who committed suicide, Hannah Baker (played by Katherine Langford), left behind thirteen audio tapes in which she calls out the classmates who bullied her, and the reasons that led up to her suicide.  Most of the series is told through the point-of-view of Clay Jensen (played by Dylan Minnette), Hannah’s close friend, as he discovers just how much he really knew of Hannah’s teasing and bullying.

13 Reasons Why – Netflix TV show

13 Reasons Why begins with the aftermath of Hannah’s suicide.  Clay receives the box of audio tapes, and he listens to them in sequence and follows Hannah’s journey as a new student during her sophomore year to, ultimately, her suicide in the fall of her junior year.  It’s a rough and emotional journey as he learns the truth through Hannah’s stories and the pieces of evidence that he discovers.  He also realizes just how close he really was to not only Hannah, but to the bullies and their actions.

Before she ends her life, Hannah gives the audio tapes to Tony (played by Christian Navarro), one of her high school classmates that she can trust.  He’s given the job of passing the tapes to each person in Hannah’s listing, making sure that they listen to all of the tapes.  Otherwise, he’s instructed to make the tapes public so that the whole world can hear the truth, a threat that can bring down the entire school system.  Tony has listened to the tapes and knows the truth, and he continually pushes Clay to keep going and to listen to everything, even during trying times.  After all, Clay is the subject of one of the tapes.

Along the way, Hannah’s parents search for answers and set up a lawsuit against the school system for failing to spot and stop a clearly emotionally disturbed teenager.  In addition to that, the other students named in the thirteen audio tapes band together and try to intimidate and scare Clay into stopping his research into the truth.

By the thirteenth audio tape, Clay is horrified at how he failed to spot the signs that Hannah was screaming for help, but nobody, not even himself, her close friend, stepped forward to give her the emotional help that she badly needed.

The first season of 13 Reasons Why ends with Hannah’s suicide (shown in graphic detail).  Clay confronts Mr. Porter (played by Derek Luke), the school’s counselor, about how he was the last person Hannah met before killing herself, and he refused to give her any assistance, placing a large part of the blame on him and the school system.  He then gives Mr. Porter the tapes as he is the subject of the thirteenth tape and, thus, the final reason for Hannah’s suicide.

Tony betrays Hannah’s trust to keep her secrets limited to a select group of people, and he gives Hannah’s grieving parents a copy of the audio tapes. They’re shown listening to the first audio recording at the end of the episode.

About a week ago it was announced that Netflix has renewed 13 Reasons Why for a second season, set to premier next year in 2018.

The tv show is based on the book Thirteen Reasons Why, and it’s my understanding that the first season covers the entire plot of the book.  It’s a standalone story without a sequel.  So if there’s going to be a second season for the TV show, will it be a continuation of the events in season one, or will it be a completely different story, like how American Horror Story has a new horror story for each season?

I’m guessing it’ll be the former as several of the characters had interesting cliffhangers, and it would be relatively easy to keep that overall story going for more episodes.  Since there isn’t another book, it’ll be easy to surprise the audience and keep them invigorated.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Is 13 Reasons Why any good?

Yes, this is a fascinating show and it’s easy to binge watch the first season.  The plot is easy to follow, the subject matter is extremely dark (and emotional for some people), and you’re on the edge of your seat while discovering the reasons why Hannah chooses to kill herself.

Chances are likely that you can relate to some of the characters and the scenarios.  We’ve all seen it to one degree or another, no matter how social you were back in high school.  The faces may be different, but it’s a common theme that has been occurring in schools for generations.

I just happened to discover this show about a week ago when I was skimming through my news feed in Facebook, something that I only do once a month or so, if even that often.  One of my idiot friends was talking about the show and how she felt as she was in a similar situation herself many years ago.  This friend was dating a guy back in high school, and one day he hanged and killed himself.  Allegedly the relationship that he had with his family was so poor that after he hanged himself in his basement bedroom, he wasn’t even discovered until a few days later.  I don’t know who the dead person was of if he was a student at our school, but my friend was talking about how she failed to notice the warning signs of his distressed condition.

After all, when some people keep writing “I want to kill myself” in journals (like this individual did), sometimes they’re just seeking attention for whatever reason.  People who are more serious about committing suicide just find a way to do it and are less likely to intentionally give away clues.  The decision to do so has been justified in their mind, and they are going to carry out the act in one way or another.  You might temporarily stop a person, but without serious help, that person will just try again another day.

Apparently a lot of other people have also been talking about 13 Reasons Why.  Just a few days ago, one of our local news stations had a special segment about teenage suicide prevention and phone numbers to call if you were concerned about yourself or another person.  Of course, teen suicide certainly isn’t anything new, but 13 Reasons Why is definitely raising awareness, and it *is* getting a lot of people to talk about the subject.

Anyway, once I found a way to watch the show, I was easily drawn into the series as it was just so fascinating and easy to watch and learn what happens next.  When one episode ended, I was eager to start the next one, regardless of how late it was at night.

By the end of the season, I wasn’t sad about Hannah’s suicide.  I was angry.

Here was a smart and beautiful young lady who had a series of unfortunate events happen to her, some through the actions of others, and some from her own fault.  She formed incorrect opinions, she failed to reach out to her parents, she allowed herself to be in a situation that allowed Bryce to rape her (even after witnessing him previously rape another student and get away with it), and she failed to seek other solutions to her problems.  When Hannah finally killed herself, she not only caused overwhelming suffering and grief to her parents, but she also hurt her true friends, some people that she thought were against her.

I’ll go into more detail in my next article.

As far as the TV show goes, most of it is believable (especially the annoying, power-hungry, and essentially useless school administrators) apart from the heaping bullshit of politically-correct characters.  It’s obvious that 13 Reasons Why scores major points with the liberal and LGBTBBQWTF crowds once you look and see how truly “diverse” the characters are.

Here we have a show that takes place in a small town, yet the high school students, the teachers and administrators, and some of the parents are incredibly diverse.  It’s a melting pot that, by definition, you’d never expect in an average small town, but here it does.

In 13 Reasons Why, some of the diverse characters you’ll encounter are:

  • Tony Padilla – male (a caring but “tough guy” Hispanic and homosexual; later is seen with a flagrant homosexual boyfriend)
  • Jessica Davis – female (bi-racial with a black father and white mother)
  • Zach Dempsey – male (tall, Asian athlete with a rich <and intimidating> Asian mother)
  • Marcus Cole – male (black, the top contender for class valedictorian, a leader on the student council)
  • Ryan Shaver – male (white, flagrant homosexual)
  • Courtney Crimsen – female (Asian, a closet homosexual; adopted and raised by two male homosexuals, one of them flagrant)
  • Skye Miller – female (white, covered in tattoos and piercings; cuts her wrists for attention)
  • Laura – female (white, openly homosexual)

Those are just some of the students.  In charge of the school is a white male principal who is soft-spoken and seen as cautious and timid, especially with the looming lawsuit.  Sharply contrasting him is the vice-principal, an Asian female who is very aggressive and strict against students who she believes are trouble makers, even if their history is clean.  She’s strong, she’s tough, she’s fearful, and she will use the police to search and apprehend anybody on campus.

Instead of asking for the police to bring a “drug dog” to sniff lockers and backpacks, allowing the students to have privacy during searches, she has a police officer physically looking through selected backpacks in a search for contraband (solely based on a “tip” provided by a “trusted” honor student), thoroughly humiliating the students during the search of their private property.

Because of the absurdness from ALL of the diversity forced on the viewers, it’s actually quite comical when the “villains” (those people Hannah draws attention to in her tapes) band together near the end of the season.  The show loses a ton a credibility in this aspect, especially when the Legion of Absurdness meets at the local coffee shop and tries to figure out a way to stop Clay, deny Hannah’s audio tapes, and for them to save their own asses from legal persecution.

Some of the character’s actions are a bit cringe-worthy and stupid as well.

For example, Tyler Down is the school’s photographer, and at one point he stalks Hannah.  Despite being proud of using a powerful lens to capture photographs from great distances, he stands so close to Hannah when taking her picture that she can *hear* the camera’s shutter.  He’s also right outside of her bedroom snapping photos when Hannah and Courtney use the flashlight to spot him.

Tyler was an idiot for not only standing so close to his subjects while stalking them, but also using school equipment (and the school’s film processing lab in during which Kevin notices the stalking photos) to commit his crimes.  Plus he was a stalker, and those people deserve to die painful deaths from the psychological damage they inflict on their victims.

Another example is when Zach steals the “positive notes” (Really?  LOL.) from Hannah’s container in communication class as an act of revenge for her not wanting to date him.  Oh, the horror!  He was brash enough to steal her notes while other students were in the classroom.  It would have been very easy for another classmate to anonymously slip Hannah (or the teacher) a note and alert them of Zach’s actions.

But nobody did.  Obviously it never dawned on Hannah to check for her “positive notes” at any other time of day.

Let’s also not overlook all of the “safe space” signs around the school and inside the classrooms, pushing that social bullshit as well.  I guess that the students failed to notice the signs as some of the bullying and teasing occurred in those very spots.  So much for that being a “safe” area for students.

To me, the biggest problem is that near the end of her life, Hannah is practically screaming for attention from Clay, yet Clay is too socially inexperienced to recognize it.  He’s also under the impression that she’s recently been behaving like a drama queen, which he informs her about that dislike.  So of course he’s not going to be able to recognize the true problem and give Hannah the positive attention that she desperately needs.  She knows it, she also knows that he does not know the true story, and yet she still places too much faith in him at that critical point in time.

Sure, Clay is angry with himself later when he listens to the tapes and finally learns everything, but at that point in time her going to him was almost useless because he was already not recognizing her signs for help, and not just being a drama queen.  For somebody as bright as she was, Hannah should have changed her approach and spoken privately with him, letting him know her true emotions and mental trauma.

SHOULD TEENAGERS WATCH 13 REASONS WHY?

That’s a major question that parents are asking each other on social media.

Teenagers need to know about the repercussions for bad behavior and how it can have an impact on others.  Of course, we were told all of that a long time ago in school, and yet the same problems still exist today.  The bottom line is that teenagers are teenagers, and those who want to listen and pay attention will do so.  The rest will not.

13 Reasons Why does a great job showing how endless teasing and harassment caused a young woman to seriously question her reasons for staying alive.  She reached the conclusion that others would be better off without her existence, and she ended her life.

The show is dark, it shows heavy alcohol abuse, there are sex scenes (including rape), and some people may see it as justifying suicide at such a young age.  Of course, this type of a show can have a very bad reaction for teenagers in similar situations.  They can look at the show, see all of the similarities in their own life, and use it as justification for suicide.

Parents may think that they know their kids, but some people can do a great job at hiding their social and emotional problems.  Did Hannah’s parents ever realize just how much their daughter was needing positive support from her friends?

Speaking of that, I’ve been seeing TV commercials for a different news station advertising a story that they’ll be airing soon —- it’s all about teenagers opening up and being honest with their parents.  It makes you wonder just how much the average parents truly know about their children, from their true behavior to their friends and to their after school activities, and even their mental health as well.

That’s just another example of how a wildly popular and discussed television show can have such an impact, both positive and negative.  Perhaps it’s also another indicator that teenagers are still the most mentally unstable creatures on the planet.

13 Reasons Why can be an important tool for reaching out and educating today’s youth, but it needs to be handled very delicately.  Parents need to see the show first and seriously think about whether or not their children need to view it as well.

13 Reasons Why – tv show trailer

In the end, 13 Reasons Why is still a compelling and gripping show despite moments of stupidity, Hannah’s incorrect perceptions, and the nauseating social agenda pushed right in our face.  When you get past all of that, the outcome is a very watchable show that serves as a stark reminder of the evil that children can commit.

I speak from the experience of being constantly teased, harassed and bullied in the last part of elementary and throughout middle school.

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