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What bothers me about ‘13 Reasons Why’

Clare liked the show but had some issues with it


Written by Clare Appezzato and posted in opinion


This is an opinion of a young person and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of SpunOut.ie. It is one person's experience and may be different for you. If you'd like to write something for SpunOut.ie please contact editor@spunout.ie.


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I doubt there’s a single person who hasn’t heard about 13 Reasons Why, and it’s for a good reason. Although the show is bringing light to certain subjects we are often afraid to speak about, it begs the question, is it doing this in the right way? Spoiler Alert: the main character, Hannah dies by suicide, and this is shown on screen. Throughout the 13 episodes Hannah explains the reasons why she did this, through tapes. These reasons turn into lessons that unfortunately many youths (including myself) could do with learning.

One of these is how one small joke or in this case “compliment” can have ripple effects. By titling Hannah as “best ass” it opens her up to sexual harassment and causes her to lose her best friend. You would not necessarily expect these things to happen, although it makes sense once we see the full context of the situation. I think that this is an important thing to think about. Although you may think something so small couldn’t possibly have harmful effects, it shows that we really do not know what could happen. This teaches us the often ugly side of what we consider a stupid joke and shows us how easily things can take a turn for the worse in someone else’s life, whether we meant for it to happen or not.

The aftermath of her suicide is what bothers me the most, the show has made it seem as though life can easily go on after someone dies by suicide. Apart from memorialising Hannah’s locker (which is soon taken down and the locker reassigned to a new kid), life at the High school pretty much goes on as normal. The basketballers, cheerleaders and even teachers continue on as though nothing has changed. Apart from posters being put up around the school we don’t see anybody actively trying to understand why this happened to Hannah, or helping to prevent it from happening to someone else. In fact, the faculty are mainly concerned with winning a lawsuit against Hannah’s parents.

Another thing that annoyed me and many others is how Hannah’s suicide is portrayed as a revenge tactic. We must not forget how much pain a person must be in to end their own life. In 13 Reasons Why however, it is shown as a way to hurt other people. In the end, mental illness is the cause for suicide, and although this may have come from Hannah’s fellow schoolmates doing horrible things to her, they were not the reason she died. I think that the show should have shed more light on the role mental illness played in her suicide, and less of how she wanted to hurt others.

Most importantly, as the show puts it, you don’t ever really know what’s going on in someone else’s life, and I think that this is the main lesson to focus on. Over and over we are shown situations that change from different perspectives, and things that don’t seem significantly disruptive have a larger consequence in Hannah’s life. This shows us that we never really know how someone will respond to something questionable we may do or say.  Overall, I do think that 13 Reasons Why is opening our eyes up to some hard-to-deal-with topics, but there are also some very questionable issues with how it portrays these. 

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Published May 12th, 2017
Tags tv mental health
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