Tuesday, 29 May 2018

13 Reasons Why

I know, another blog post on 13 reasons why. However, with the release of the second series I wanted to take the time to share my mixed bag of thoughts. There will be spoilers in this post as well as a trigger warning.

For those of you who may not know, this Netflix series explores the story of Hannah Baker, a teenager who commits suicide and leaves a set of tapes explaining the 13 reasons why she decided to end her life. The second series then follows on, showing a trial to prove whether or not the school was at fault for Hannahs suicide, reviewing Hannahs reasons looking at both sides of the story and also looking at how this suicide is still affecting the lives of those who loved her 5 months on. 

There are multiple, widely criticised scenes throughout both series. Series one shows the brutally uncomfortable scenes of Hannah being raped and then finally in the last episode, it explicitly shows Hannahs suicide. A lot of people have said these scenes should never have been aired, however, I am not sure I hold the same opinion. 

The rape scene is incredibly uncomfortable to watch, but it's a scene that needs to be. The viewer is left to sit in the space of that scene for a second too long. Had they just skimmed over the rape briefly it may not have hit viewers so hard, it may not have made people really digest the scene and the reality of the subject. 

Then there is Hannahs suicide. Netflix was advised not to show the entire suicide, however, despite advice they still aired Hannah slitting her wrists open and bleeding to death. It is horrible to watch. Personally, I think this didn't need to be as graphic as it was, the viewer didn't need to physically see in detail what Hannah was doing. It could very much have been filmed in a different way whilst still being as uncomfortable and heartbreaking to watch. Be that as it may, again, did this deeply upsetting scene need to be the way it was in order to shock viewers, in order to get people talking? 

The real issue I have with each of these scenes is the lack of warnings in place. The viewer should have been made explicitly aware of what they were about to watch. 

Moving on to series 2 and the all talked about scene is the bullying scene in the final episode. I don't believe, just like with Hannahs suicide that this needed to be as graphic as Netflix made it. The point could have been made in a less graphic and disturbing way. In fact, out of the whole 2 series, this was the scene that I really found hardest to watch. 

There are many issues with the show, however, I have one big overall problem and that is in regards to the storyline of Tyler. Tyler is one of Hannah's reasons for being her stalker and photographing her in the privacy of her own home. In series 2 his story evolves and he ends up a high school shooter (well almost). Netflix portrays this character with a lot of sympathy, playing him to be a misunderstood teenager and this is where I believe they have gone very wrong because there is no excuse to walk into your high school planning to shoot as many people as possible, no matter how much you are bullied beforehand. The way in which Clay deals with Tyler, in my opinion, is completely wrong as well, giving the wrong message to its viewers, who unfortunately being American may find themselves in a similar situation. When faced with a school shooter, the police SHOULD be called, you SHOULDN'T go and take the gun off them and then proceed to whisk them away in a car so they don't need to face the responsibility of what they were about to do. 

The show claims to raise awareness and pushes viewers to access help if they feel they need it. However, when you look at the characters the help that is accessed isn't portrayed in a positive light or the characters have to reach a benchmark of (near) suicide in order to be deemed ill enough to have access to help.

Hannah tries to get help from Mr. Porter -doesn't get it- ends up killing herself.
Tyler tries to get someone to help with the bullying - no luck - becomes violent - gets sent to a behavioral programme - returns a school shooter. 
Alex only receives help after attempting suicide. 
Skye only receives help after self-harming so bad she ends up in hospital.

This isn't the message that should be sent out to vulnerable teenagers. 

This show does have faults, but when dealing with such difficult subjects choosing the right angle to shine the light on it can be hard. I think it is good that Netflix is facing these difficult issues head-on. We can try to sugar coat these issues as much as we like but the reality is that there are lots of Hannahs, Bryces, Clays, Tylers and Justins out there and this show is definitely a conversation starter for the difficult subject matters that it tackles.  


  1. I really like your take on the series and I’m glad that you wrote about it.

    A lot of what I’ve seen is either fully supportive or fully unsupportive, but I think I also sit on the middle ground.

    I haven’t watched the second season, mostly because the first was so tough on me and I’m in a worse place now, but after reading your post I’m confident that I really don’t have to.

    Some of the scenes were definitely important and needed to be uncomfortable, but there’s a way to do it carefully. And I almost wish there was an option to watch a censored version instead.

    1. Thank you for your comment Maddi! I completely agree that a censored version should be available however, would the series work if all the scenes that make the series so shocking and talked about were taken away?

    2. That is such a good question... And I don't have an answer. Though, at least in my bubble, most of the people watching were already aware of mental illnesses and for me, it was really tough / triggering to watch. I wish there was an easier answer!

  2. I agree so much with the school shooting thing- I think they handled it so badly, showing Clay talk him out of it just seems so invalidating to all the shootings that have occurred, making it seem like a simple conversation is enough to stop such a huge tragedy? I just ah man, I thought season 2 was so good in a way as it really showed the injustice women face when it comes to sexual assault and that story line, well it's just impossible not to feel angry about it, which is good I think as a way of raising awareness/ make people more aware of their actions and the need to support those who open up about those things and like recognise the strength of survivors. However, the school shooting bit, man I just found it so ridiculous!

    I didn't watch the bit with Tyler and the broom, my sister told me it happened in the last episode so I just skipped it, but I agree, I think there should be more of an explicit warning that something graphic is about to come up, even if it was just like a note in the corner of the screen- putting that warning at the beginning of the episodes isn't enough.

    I did enjoy season 2 though in a way (I am living for Clay and Justin being brothers) but ah man, I do think they could have handled/shot some things a whole lot better

    1. Thank you for your comment Libby. I agree that the way in which the story line treats sexual abuse, especially that scene in the last episode of series two where they show all the women talking about their abusers is extremely powerful.
      Season two has left me with a lot of questions, what happens to Tyler? What happens with Clay and Justin becoming brothers? Does Tony face any repercussions for helping Tyler? Does Justin get clean? So many questions ahah!