“13 Reasons Why” is a Netflix mini-series that premiered in late March Within a few weeks, the adaptation of the novel with the same title by Jay Asher has led teenagers, young adults, parents and schools to start to ask questions.
It tells the story of the suicide of Hannah Baker, a high school junior, who releases 13 recorded tapes explaining why she committed suicide. Each tape is dedicated to a person who contributed to her suicide. She instructs in the tapes that they must be passed along to all of the people on them and if they are not, they will be released publicly.
The response to this series has been equally positive and negative. Many negative comments are that the series overdramatizes high school or does not show suicide or rape accurately.
The series does include depictions of abuse, rape and suicide, but includes warnings before episodes that include these events for viewers.
Personally, I think that the series is brilliant. The purpose of making the novel into a series was to reach a different kind of audience and spread awareness that all you do makes impacts, positive and negative, in others’ lives. This series has done what it sought to do. Just look at all the media attention and all of the reactions that it has ensued.
The amount of drama in the series is criticized and to some extent, this may be true. The writers and producers had to organize the content in a way that would keep viewers watching. To another extent, the content may seem bigger than it is to individuals who have never experienced abuse, constant public shame or been the target of others in a closed environment like high school.
I watched this series with a few men that are important to me and during the series, they asked me if my experiences were similar to this and listened as I explained the reality of a female high school student. They were shocked. These are the kind of the conversations that this series opens for friends, parents, educators and others who work with youth.
This series not only helps those who help and care about youth, but it provides a more open environment for those who have similar high school experiences to speak out and find others who share the experiences. These kind of conversations are vital to these youth so that they can begin and continue to feel connected to a
community that can support them.
One way that students find this community is through social media, and recently the series became Twitter’s most popular show, generating over 11 million tweets in a matter of a few weeks from the release date.
Overall, the series “13 Reasons Why” has done its job well and is working toward bringing more awareness to teen suicide and abuse so that there will not have to be a single reason why.
This story first appeared in the April 27th, 2017 issue of The Vantage