I know many people are moved by this intense show and appreciate the "always be nice to people" theme, but I am here to offer my unpopular opinion. Personally, I see this show as a demeaning way for individuals to blame others for their problems. I am in no way, shape, or form undermining or dismissing the severity of depression and suicide. I am thankful there is a show that finally comes out and discusses these issues, but Netflix depicts suicide and depression poorly. So, here's thirteen reasons why 13 reasons why inaccurately portrays this sensitive topic.
WARNING: There are some spoiler alerts in this review.
1. Hannah has the audacity to say people from her school are the direct cause of her death. She claims that they are the sole reason because of their hurtful words and harmful actions, but in reality, she has complete and total agency of her own life. No one is at fault for how she internalizes these issues, and no one is at fault for not knowing what she was going through mentally.
2. Netflix neglects to express mental health as a problem in this show. They enable the mentally ill to blame their issues on others instead of inviting these individuals to make changes in their own life.
3. No one offers a solution as to how to cope with mental illness or suicide because mental illness is never defined as the real underlying cause of Hannah's death.
4. Netflix portrays that it is everyone else's responsibility to make sure people never hurt anyone when that is not realistic. People will get into arguments, and people will be mean to other individuals; it's life.
5. Being kind doesn't fix mental illness. There's so many other ways to get Selena Gomez's "kill 'em with kindness" idiom across instead of making loved ones feel guilty. Suicide is not the way to get a message across.
6. Hannah sets herself up for failure. As awful as that sounds, she puts the agency of her life into the hands of others and makes it their duty, unbeknownst to them, to save her life.
7. The counselor should have reported what Hannah said to him immediately, but she already made the conscious decision that she wanted to kill herself, hence the 12 tapes before that one. Why is that a fair compromise? She puts it in the hands of one person to decide her fate. She assumed the counselor would do the right thing and do his job, which he should have, but she should have wanted to save her life and talked to someone who was trying to be with Hannah the entire time--Clay. Even Hannah suggests that he did nothing wrong to her, so why not look to him for support?
8. Hannah portrays herself as a powerless female who is raped and faces constant bullying and sexist remarks. Ironically, she gains power through her tapes. What's the real message? Hannah Baker becomes the ultimate bully over her bullies.
9. Hannah now has the ability to pause her (once) friend's lives through her tapes for something they cannot control anymore. Granted they also have agency over their own lives, but it is hard to not internalize being blamed for someone's death. They become invested in the tapes and exhausted trying to find answers, and this creates their own mental health issues. Hannah's pain inflicted pain on others because she selfishly wanted the others to feel the way she felt. We don't know for sure, but this could be why Alex dies at the end of Season 1.
10. Going off of reason 9, Hannah goes out of her way just to get the last word. This strikes me as a revenge seeking teen rather than someone I can empathize for regarding her issues.
11. Hannah's friends, acquaintances, what have you, did what teenagers do: drop and leave friends. This is nothing out of the ordinary. It was up to Hannah to decide how to handle these difficult years for any teenager. Instead of handling it, she claims her depression stems from other people's actions.
12. This show portrays that if a person is going to commit suicide, he or she should must remind everyone who wronged him or her when the person who commits suicide is gone. What does that even do for the person committing suicide at that point? To make people nice to everyone from now on? Why couldn't that person express this point when they were living?
13. No one can change Hannah's death, so the fact that her death is to be considered "a lesson learned" is outrageous. Lessons can be learned well before a life is lost. I'm sure we can all agree that Hannah should have looked for help instead of allocating thirteen reasons to blame people.
I have never experienced the issues Hannah Baker did, so I cannot speak out of experience. My perspective is just what I took from the show. I can only imagine how hard it is to seek help, but making tapes to blame others is a revengeful act. I hope more films, books, etc. expose the importance of suicide, depression, and mental illnesses, but I personally do not recommend this show to be a show anyone watches to take away the "always be kind because anything can happen at any time" message.