I recently stumbled upon this show called 13 reasons why, the hot new show everyone is talking about, which is based on a best selling novel by the same name written by Jay Asher. I had never heard of the novel or the show and had no idea what it was about (except of course the self-fulfilling title and the little blurb on Netflix), I decided to watch it.
For those of you who don’t know, this show follows teenager Clay Jensen, in his quest to uncover the story behind his classmate and crush, Hannah, and her decision to end her life. (Source – imdb.com)
Firstly, let me start by saying I am NOT a fan of grey subject matter, where things like suicide, misogyny, bullying etc., are glorified, at least that is not my idea of “entertainment”. My preference for television shows or movies are usually comedies, romances, romantic-comedies or even well made thrillers.
I’m not going to give you a play by play of what this show is about, because there are umpteen number of posts online which do that. So don’t worry about spoilers here. 🙂
But after binge watching it, here are my thoughts –
- This is NOT a show to binge watch – the content is too heavy, most of the characters (including the protagonist) are not very likable, and all the issues they talk about on the show, and there are plenty if them (alcoholism, bullying, unrequited love, suicide, depression), but sadly none of them are truly addressed in depth on the show, except to have visuals that really do make the viewer uncomfortable. It very well poses the problems, but offers little to no (satisfying) solutions.
- This show is basically a reflection of what happens in (pretty much) every person’s high school experience. Anyone who has gone to high school knows that it can be a harrowing experience – there’s an endless supply of rumors, backstabbing, frenemies, bullying – and one is expected to go through that during teen years (probably the most vulnerable period of life when every single thing feels like it will last forever), that’s just cruel. Alas.
- Glorification of Suicide – is just NOT okay! I think people should think about what they choose to create as entertainment, don’t tell impressionable teenagers that suicide is an option. I recently read that Suicide is the second leading cause for death among teenagers, and this broke my heart. By the end of this show, I really did wonder what the hell the point was. Perhaps it was the frustration of binge watching a show like this.
- The BIGGEST, most baffling flaw of this show is how clueless the adults in the show were. I don’t think teenagers are covert operatives or world class spies who have been rigorously trained to show no emotions, or give out more than they want to reveal, teenagers are often clueless, confused people who are trying to understand what its like to be an “adult”, and they act out, and when someone is on a downward spiral, or saying/doing things which are clearly a cry for help, I doubt that it is so subtle that no adult can spot it and get them the help they need. This was perhaps the most frustrating part of the show, for me.
Now back to reality, in a Teenager’s mind, everything is magnified, everything feels like the end of the world, everything looks bleak and hopeless (I know, I was one not too long ago), but it really isn’t (I know this now). The world is a HUGE bountiful place with kind, kindred souls, thrilling experiences, abundant beauty, and one would only get to know that when one chooses to live. Suicide is NEVER the answer.
I realized very young that suicide is not a solution at all – it merely transfers your pain on to your loved ones. Death (by accident/old age/illness) is a sort of loss that changes people, but death by suicide is the most cruel type of loss which haunts its survivors for the rest of their lives.
I have lost 2 friends to suicide, and I know how helpless, confused and angry we (our friends) felt when we were at the funeral, where it was too late, and nothing we said or did could bring our friends back.
Despite being someone who has dealt with depression, an abusive relationship, bad grades, low self-esteem issues, etc., in my teens and early 20s, and survived – I don’t normally talk about depression or suicide, not because I don’t want to, or because most people would not understand, or because of a lack of interest or ignorance, I don’t often talk about it because it makes people uncomfortable. I know this by experience. Sometimes reality can be so raw and uncomfortable, and just not polite conversation (and we all know how I feel about that).
Even my two best friends haven’t heard me talk about this stuff, at least not in-depth, simply because, now, long after those days have passed, there is simply no need to rehash it and make them feel uncomfortable. Again this may have something to do with my love affair with “polite conversation”.
The point I am trying to make is, the need of the hour is not to make shows that glorify suicide or tip toe around issues like depression, it is to teach kids (by example) to be kinder, for us (as a society) to be more open and accepting of mental health issues, to make it okay for the young adults in our own lives to be able to talk to us, and instead of perpetuating the highly curated lives that people exhibit on social media, and dare to talk about the things that make people uncomfortable, not with the purpose of making someone uncomfortable, but to actually make a difference. To be able to help each other navigate through life.
And most importantly, so we don’t forget that Life is actually full of blessings – waiting to be noticed. As time has passed, MOST of my experiences (life lessons) make sense, when I look back. Every single experience I have had has made me who I am today. Every single time I’ve felt wronged by the world, I’ve also learnt that the world owes me nothing, it is up to Me to make a difference for myself. Every single time I have been faced with utter rudeness, I’ve taken away lessons on how I will never be. Every single time the world has given me difficulties, I have found people who love me no matter what. If any of those experiences were different, I would not be the me writing this post. Something about the butterfly effect comes to mind.
All I’m trying to say is, if what I’ve said/written about here can make an impact on even one person to speak up, to acknowledge the hurt and begin the process of healing or get/offer help, I’d consider myself successful.
Until next time, lets be kinder to each other.