There has been a lot of controversy around the new hot Netflix series 13 Reasons Why. Many critics claim that it is too graphic and was essentially a “how-to” for committing suicide (Totallythebomb.com). I agree that it is very graphic, but it is also raw and very real. This show is definitely not to be shown to younger audiences, those who suffer from certain mental illnesses (in which case this show could be a trigger), or those who are recovering from sexual assault. The warnings before certain episodes clearly depict that there is a suicidal scene and a rape scene that are difficult to watch. Other critics claim that this show contorts and simplifies the concept of suicide (Literallydarling.com). I completely disagree with this claim as well. Why? Here are the 3 reasons why 13 Reasons Why is a must see for older teens.
1. Unfortunately, this show puts real high school life on display
I wish that I could say that this “drama filled series” is a big huge lie. I wish that I could say that no girl could relate to this series. And I wish I could say we can keep the secrets of American high schools hidden forever, but we can’t. Everyday there are girls in high school that suffer in silence from sexual harassment on school campuses. It is important for parents to understand this. We can’t protect our kids forever from the evil in this world, but it makes it worse to pretend it never happens. 13 Reasons Why acknowledges those girls who are afraid to tell their story. It starts conversations with parents and friends that girls may have been too scared to start before watching this series.
2. It makes girls feel they aren’t alone
When someone is being targeted by others, it is so lonely. That individual usually feels that they are the only one going through bullying. It can be so reassuring just to be made aware that you aren’t the only one suffering. In my opinion, one of the main reasons why Hannah chose to take her life was because she thought she was the only one around her who was experiencing harassment and bullying. If she had been told that there are others around her that have experienced bullying in high school and that they made it through it, she may have turned to others for help instead of taking her own life.
I want to add though that just because a lot of people are experiencing bullying or sexual harassment, doesn’t make it OK or any easier on the victims. However, it can help them to heal if they have a community that understands.
As a society, we need to stop allowing bullying to happen right in front of us in our school systems. 13 Reasons Why brings forward the unfortunate fact that often the victim ends up being blamed. Even as a viewer (I hate to admit), I found myself wondering why Hannah didn’t speak up or why she didn’t try harder to get out of certain situations. This mindset is wrong, but not uncommon. When girls (or boys) are crying out as victims of bullying or sexual harassment, they deserve to be listened to and given priority.
3. It doesn’t support or ignore sexual harassment
There are enough shows in Hollywood that embrace the motto “boys are boys”. According to most TV shows, boys will say whatever or act however they want, but it ultimately means nothing because they are young and stupid. Dusting the issue of sexual harassment of teens under the rug is a huge mistake. It affects girls. I appreciated the fact that 13 Reasons Why did not support or allow for this type of treatment towards women. *SPOILER ALERT* There was no one that high-fived Bryce after they found out he raped Hannah and Jessica. No one was proud of Zach for his moves on Hannah during their first date. Not only were the characters disappointed in the boys’ choices, Clay was furious and all of the other characters were disgusted with Bryce’s actions.
Although this series was very heavy, it is very impactful. If you haven’t yet seen 13 Reasons Why, I encourage you to watch it. It shares a lot of messages that are needed to be shared and heard. I am looking forward to the second season and watching the impact that this show has on our society.