It is all over news feeds and there is nothing but controversy around this show. I finally finished season one, why there is even the possibility of a season two?? Oh yeah, huge deviations from the book. Ok fine, Netflix, I will let you get away with the possibility of a season two since you did leave it wide open.
So how did I hear about this book? From the recent show craze? No about a year ago I stumbled upon this book. I had read a novel called “Stolen” and “13 Reasons Why” appeared as a people also liked suggestion. I read the synopsis and thought this seems bleak but sound different. The novel is almost ten years old but the reviews all seemed very praise filled.
Much like the Clay from the novel, once I start reading I could hardly put the book down. It is moving, riveting, and most of all heartbreaking. I will try not to offer too many spoilers, but be warned there might be some. The novel follows Clay as he listens, in one night, to cassette tapes left by Hannah Baker a girl who commits suicide. There are 13 cassette tapes which document 13 people who lead to her ending her life. The novel is emotional and passionate and eye opening. It tugs at the readers heartstrings as we read of the events leading up to the suicide. Even if you have never struggled with depression or suicidal thoughts, many of the passages just get to you.
Now flash forward to today and there is an adaptation on the small screen. Let’s be honest it is brutal. There has been much speculation around the show and it has been criticized for glamorizing suicide, but after watching all 13 episodes I don’t see it.
Honestly, Clay got on my nerves in the series. I hate the lawsuit angle because spoiler not there in the novel. I am not here to really critique the show though, that isn’t what I want to do, I want to talk about the content and themes. If you read the novel, there were difficult passages but nothing prepared you for how real the series got. I am glad it was produced where it was because I think it was honest, gritty and real. I think few other networks or places would have allowed such risks.
The many criticism I’ve read about this show is the way it treats suicide. I don’t see it though. This show does a good job of being real. Hannah is suffering as she struggles to decide what to do with her life or ultimate death and nothing about that is glamorized. She doesn’t find fun in it nor do any of the kids who get her tapes and “caused” her suicide.
The scene when Clay’s dad comes to him after he gets drunk sums it up best. His dad asks how he feels then talks about the lesson of a hangover. It isn’t that someone won’t drink again it is the reality that all we do has consequences. Personally, Clay creates, unnecessarily in the series these consequences but nonetheless they are there. A girl gets assaulted and her world changes. A girl gets made fun of and she feels isolated. Someone is forced to see the person they really are and decide if they can live with that truth. Someone reaches out for help and is ignored or gets rejected. Life is harsh but everything we do has consequences and effects others more than we often will ever know or realize.
Suicide is a terrible choice. It is just that though, a choice, but just like this series, it that shows no one is unchanged or unaffected by it. Everyone suffers when someone gives up and that is what suicide is, someone giving up. It is heartbreaking and sad and despite what I’ve read nothing makes it appear like the glamorous choice. It is a lonely, sad, depressing and horrible place to find yourself and if you can’t see a way out it becomes the last decision you ever make.
Life is hard. High school is hard. Suicide, bullying and assault are all too real things in our society now. People want to sweep these things under the rug or pretend they don’t affect others, but they are there and ignoring them doesn’t help. This show screams for people to realize that. Don’t tell an assault victim to move on or be dismissive. Don’t say just get over it. Don’t ignore signs or think you can’t do anything. People need people. People need people to care and to listen. People need to know that they can make it through.
Is this a show people need to see? If it gets people talking about their feelings or what they struggle with? Yes then I think they should. People should look at this with an open mind though too. Don’t let critics or anyone tell you what to think. Heck that is exactly what this show speaks to. If you follow the crowd, if you blindly decide and make a choice without serious thought, you could miss out or you could cause more damage. You could miss what is right in front of you. You could miss the one person who can save you or you could save. The one quote that could mean something if you ever find yourself down a dark and lonesome road. Decide what you think when you watch it. Don’t let the gossip or preconceived notions make up your opinion before you give it a chance. If you don’t like it, you don’t like it, but if you find something of value then take something from it. Let it entertain you or comfort you. Sometimes just knowing you aren’t alone in how you feel is enough to give you the ability to relax and make it one more day. Sometimes life isn’t lived in days it is done by getting through each moment.
If nothing else, this show reminds us to care about those around us. It reminds us to see what others are going through and fight for those who can’t fight for themselves. Often we think someone else will do it or be there but what if they aren’t? What if it is meant to be you? Don’t waste your time lost seek a connection wherever you can find it. Don’t let that person who is struggling do it alone or if you are that person, seek out and get the help you need/deserve. No one deserves to hurt. There is always a way back. Don’t forget that.