If you already haven't watched or even heard of the recently debuted '13 Reasons Why' on Netflix, well then it's time to pop that popcorn, charge your laptop and settle into this book-turned-binge-worthy television series. Originally written by Jay Asher, the story line focuses on Hannah Baker, a high school teen who committed suicide her junior year. In light of her death, protagonist and friend Clay Jensen is mysteriously delivered a set of tapes recorded by Hannah herself that reveal the people and events of her Sophomore year that led to her suicide. Each tape focuses on one particular person and each episode focuses on each tape in chronological order.
At first, I had no interest in watching it because I was over high school drama television. I realized that watching a film or TV adaptation before reading the actual book is borderline blasphemy, but it was the first time I've ever heard of '13 Reasons Why' and since everyone was gushing about it, I figured I'd watch the first season. What I didn't realize was just how intensely real this show ended up being.
As I'm writing this article, I have made it to episode 10 out of the 13 that are in the first season. I won't reveal any spoilers because that's just cruel to anyone who takes their Netflix series' as serious as I do. But, what I can say is the show turns graphic and in the realest way possible. I'm not saying this series depicts something everyone would want to see but rather what we as young adults should see.
Now, I attended a smaller high school and a fellow peer committing suicide was something that never occurred during my time there. What did occur was senseless bullying and harassment of others that either went unnoticed or played off which is a huge element this show obviously touches very well on.
I think another concept the Netflix series touches well on is the aftermath of a tragedy and how suddenly everyone cares, even the people who played a part in it or witnessed it without saying anything. Sometimes it's amazing how people just don't care until you're gone. Nobody realizes the gravity of a situation like this and when they do, they may not even reconsider their actions or their words even then. Maybe they do. I think high school teens need to be taught the power of their words and actions.
However, one topic in '13 Reasons Why' I think should have been incorporated was the existence of mental illness and how that is an alarmingly large factor in self-inflicted deaths. It's one of those conversations that continues to remain in the dark when we shouldn't be afraid to discuss something that affects so many individuals. We need to de-stigmatize mental illness and find more efficient ways to fund programs that provide help and support to those who need it.
Though intense and extremely graphic at times, I think the show provides an educational backdrop to the meaning of what it means to watch what you say and watch what you do. I actually believe it be beneficial to have it as administrated requirement in high schools to exemplify the gravity of a situation like this. I mean, how hard is it to be nice to everyone or in the very least civil?