If you've watched the much raved about Netflix series, 13 Reasons Why, then you probably have some feelings about it yourself. Some of my friends who suffer from depression and anxiety have said before that they found it very disturbing and they wish they never watched it. However, they said that they could relate despite it being disturbing. Friends of mine who don't suffer from anxiety and depression however, similarly said that they could relate to it and it got me thinking....
The setting is in a high school, with very real problems that you and I may have probably have once gone through. The thing is that with anything, when you're going through it, it always seems to be the hardest thing you'll ever go through and as much as you're trying to run away from the reality, it is difficult.
Our main character, arguably could either be Clay Jenkins or Hannah Baker. However, if we look at either one of them, they both suffer from some sort of mental illness and understandably the stigma of mental health disorders is prevalent in high school. Hannah Baker chose to end her life and left with her 13 tapes which outlined 13 reasons that led to her killing herself. The entire series was very well planned, the 13 tapes very well organised and the pain inflicted to everyone around who still lived, very much real. Arguably, there is the opinion as to whether or not she should have killed herself, and also, when she decided to kill herself, why did she feel the need to torture the people who caused her to end her life by making them suffer? Was this a form of justification? Why did she feel like justice would only be served by taking her own life? Hannah was traumatised by the way she was objectified and sexualised at school when she was betrayed by her crush, Justin Foley, who then goes on to date her best friend at the new school, Jessica Davis.
As heartbreaking as the whole series was, with many crises such as unrequited love, rape, ownership someone feels towards another person for providing for them, the feeling of "owing" someone something for being taken care of, the drinking culture, betrayal, depression, anxiety, isolation, taunting and things that you could possibly piece together if you've been to high school before.
However, the still remaining situation here after the death is that of the suffering that Hannah Baker's parents and her friends go through, not being able to see the tell-tale signs of her feeling isolated and being scared on her own. The story implies a lot of things, like how her mother was really strict with her, and was always at the pharmacy, Hannah however, was also filmed at the pharmacy with her mother. Hannah worked with Clay as a cinema attendant and she was showing signs of withdrawal from society, but she had hoped for a better life, and, rape was the final straw which made her want to kill herself. She did try to speak to her school counsellor about it and noted that it was the final chance she was giving towards living and to life. In the situation, we see how the school counsellor's personal mobile phone was ringing and we point out that this is the case with a lot of us, we sometimes don't listen to our children, to our partners, to our friends, because when we're out, we feel the need to be on our phones and we possibly ignore our friends, and/or the person around us who could/want to open up to us.
The series definitely brought forth the teenage dilemma that we all face as young adults trying to fit in. A lot of people think that this is limited and most specifically focused on teenagers being self-centred, arguable and most importantly disconnected to society. The teenage years of a child is considered the toughest time for parents and the pinnacle of annoyance for society. However, teenagers, adolescents, adults, we all go through difficult times and although 13 reasons why is very much a relatable series where we face difficulties, but all of us have different capacity for tolerance and what could make or break someone could leave the other unfazed. We are nurtured by the environment that we grow up in and in many aspects, we see some of the characters, such as Justin Foley and Jessica Davis being somewhat insensitive about the situation and saying that everyone goes through these kinds of things, she just chose to end her life. Whereas Alex Standall sympathises with Hannah Baker and understands why she did it and blames everyone who was mentioned in the tape as the culprit, including himself.
Hannah Baker could be considered to being a narcissist by people, but I beg differ, mainly because the narcissism comes from the series being centred around her, which basically is the point, to reveal different aspects of her situation. A lot of us don't think about the parts of other people that we don't see. So, if we don't know them on a personal basis for example, we somehow just compress their whole identity based on what we know about them. I guess the whole series really got people talking because how most people can relate to this. I don't think I would watch it again like other movies or series that I have watched before. The reason why is simple, I don't particularly want to be reminded of my teenage years, they're not particularly something that I look back at, I was a school nerd, but I had many good times for sure. But it was also a time when I struggled with my identity and how I wanted to be popular but it is also some elements of it that I face with today. So, sometimes, I personally do want to shut those emotions out because they're irrelevant if they're not affecting me.
13 reasons why was definitely a series that brought about a real thing that have plagued teenagers for years. Now, with the second season of 13 reasons why, I somehow can imagine Tyler Down, the school paper photographer as a school shooter, perhaps Clay now being back on his pills, Bryce Walker in jail, and maybe a few new characters that were previously unheard of. Now, with the release of the tapes and it being an incriminating evidence as well, the school would be going through very tough policy change not to mention being poor and not to mention that Kevin Porter may be fired from his post. Although the series teaches us of the dangers of mistreating others, it also highlights that a lot of other things could be going on in someone's head. Clay loved Hannah, but we know that Hannah did like Clay, perhaps even loved him as she imagined a new chapter of her life with Clay, but Clay who had no clue on how to date someone, he took Hannah's words at face value and perhaps that is also a factor to consider. Sometimes, girls yell at a man, asking him to go away, but really, expects him to hang around. Maybe sometimes, the person may stay, but a lot of times, we don't expect to be treated that way nor should we be treated that way.
Hannah's death is a reflection of silence, but at the same time, a cry for help that was unanswered. Although the plot had many interesting aspects to it, which was very real, but it also lacked detail in terms of just skimming the surface when it comes to emotions, and this leaves the viewer with a lot of space for input of emotions. It is a very emotional series, but it was mainly due to the personal attachment that we have to a time in our life that a lot of us remember being one of the most difficult. Perhaps teenagers who are still at school may see this in a different light, but being at University, I can't personally say if this is true, although I believe this to be very likely. High school is a time when you discover a lot of emotions which you may have never gone through before, you learn about love but you also learn about the love that was unrequited, you think back to a time when some joke that was started by someone that got you embarrassed and how at that moment, you felt isolated and you thought about suicide. People say that committing suicide is a cowardly act, but the graphic content in 13 Reasons Why, which I personally skipped, just goes to show how terrible it is. I suppose there is some courage to taking your life, but at the same time, there are a lot more reasons than the 13 as to why someone should choose to end their life.
I think everyone has thought about suicide at some point of their life at least. But, I'm also in no way advocating suicide and if you or anyone you know is thinking about this, there is always help. In the UK, the number to call would be 116 123 , they're the Samaritans. There are also student run societies that offer free listening services and you can call them and speak to them if for whatever reasons you may feel like you can't go on or if you just need someone to lend an ear. I think the series is educational but in some aspects, gives people the idea that after someone dies, people would remember them, this should not be a motivating factor, AT ALL.
Till my next post. xx