Like so many people I've been engrossed in the show about a teenage girl called Hannah Baker who takes her own life and leaves 13 cassette tapes behind explaining why.
In some way it seems like the tapes are there to get revenge on everybody who's wronged Hannah and driven her to commit suicide.
There's also been accusations that it glamorises suicide. That is one accusation that I don't agree with.
Here's 13 reasons why 13 Reasons Why doesn't glamorise suicide in my opinion -
|The loss of a young life isn't glamorous.|
1- There's nothing glamorous about a bright, intelligent girl like Hannah with her whole future ahead of her killing herself because she can't take life any more.
2- The life of the teens depicted on 13 Reasons Why is terrible. The pressures on the students is immense and instead of supporting each other most of them tear each other apart. Bullying is seen as normal.
3- Anything you do or say can be twisted and around the school in seconds thanks to mobile phones and the Internet. Hannah has her first kiss, next she knows the seemingly nice guy turns out to be a jerk who claims she did more than just kiss him.
|The obnoxious Bryce.|
4- There's nothing glamorous about a girl being raped by her boyfriend's best friend whilst she's incapacitated by alcohol as her boyfriend who should be protecting her walks away. At a time when there's research showing that many young people have a difficult time knowing when rape is rape it highlights something very important.
5- The girls in the show can be real mean girls. One minute they're helping you get home safely, the next they're driving away from an accident that takes out a stop sign and very soon after causes an accident where someone dies.
6- It shows the effects of suicide on the ones left behind.
Watching the heartbreak Hannah's parents go through, especially her mother is gut wrenching. With Clay who loved Hannah, there's also a sense of great loss and of what might have been for him and Hannah.
7- The immaturity of the boys compared to the girls is frequently highlighted throughout the show. They rarely take responsibility for any of their actions or feel any guilt. There's always a sense that if you're good at sport and popular at school you can do whatever the hell you want to.
8- Girls face unbelievable pressure. Either they're frigid or easy. There seems to be no middle ground. And it's not just guys who are judging and rating them, it's the girls who should know better. So much for the sisterhood.
9- The students seem to live in a parallel universe to the teachers and parents and have no support system. They don't let their parents into their lives. Instead they bury all of their pain with drugs and alcohol and by being mean to their peers and oblivious to their pain.
10- Teachers do try to help, but not near enough and they seem oblivious to what's going on right under their noses. The bullying, the peer pressure, the drugs and alcohol.
|Even the seemingly nice guys screw Hannah over.|
11- It shows the characters as they really are warts and all i.e not in the least bit glamorous or people we would want to be. Even the wonderful Clay, our main character isn't perfect. Throughout 13 Reasons Why there's a strong sense that if only he'd told Hannah how he felt she would still be alive.
12- We wouldn't want to be anyone in the show. They may be young but none of them seem particularly happy. Hannah killed herself, but it could have just as easily have been anyone else in the show.
13- You spend the whole time watching the show with a sense of deep sadness, a feeling that you want to grab all of the young cast by the scruff of the neck and tell them school doesn't last forever. You have the rest of your life.
Conclusion - Whatever anyone thinks, it has to be a good thing that teenage suicide is at least being discussed. Too many young people are taking their own lives. It's something we need to talk about and if shows like 13 Reasons Why make that happen it has got to be a good thing.
On a personal note, as someone who was bullied mercilessly at school and the place where I lived and who contemplated suicide, I found the show cathartic and grittily realistic.