“13 Reasons Why” is a Netflix original series based off the young adult book. The story is about teenage suicide after she had been bullied, abused, harassed, assaulted by her peers, and even betrayed by some of her closest friends because of lies and rumors. Before she commits to suicide, she makes 13 cassette tapes. Each tape tells the story about an individual who had hurt her. Each tape is one of her 13 reasons. The whole reason she made these tapes is so that each person who hurt her will listen to these tapes and once that person has finished, they are to pass them on to the next person. When the series opens up in the first episode, Hannah Baker has already committed suicide and the tapes had been passed on to Clay, one of her good friends.
I have come across quite a few negative reviews and posts about this series and I wanted to put my two cents in. There are so many reviews, postings and articles out there about not letting your kids watch this show. First of all, it’s rated MA and is not suitable for ages under 17. If your child has watched it without your knowledge, you probably should sit down and have a conversation with them about this show. You should have a conversation with your child on these topics regardless of whether they watched the show or not. Bullying, depression, and suicide is a very real thing that is happening among young people.
When I watched this show, I watched it by myself. Knowing it was rated MA, I would never even allowed my almost 12 year old to watch it. My oldest is 16 and after I started I watching it, I had asked her if she even heard about it. She said she had no idea what it was so I knew she hadn’t seen it. So I continued to watch it by myself before I made the decision as to whether or not I would want her to see it. When I was finished, I had a discussion with her about these topics and told her that if she was interested in watching it she could as long as she watched it with me. I felt that she was mature enough to watch it with parental guidance and by watching it with her, it can open up dialog as we move through the episodes. She still hasn’t watched it yet and that’s okay because I am certainly not going to force her too. I just wanted her to know that if kids started talking about the show at school and she became interested after that, I wanted her to tell me so we can watch it together instead of over at a friend’s house.
Now, the whole point to this show is to raise awareness of these topics. These are heavy and dark topics that aren’t always addressed or discussed with youths. And one of the reasons why is because most people don’t realize how hurtful their actions can be or how to know something is going on with someone or know someone may be suffering from depression. Depression isn’t always visible and some people suffering from depression can’t always just ask for help. This show depicts just how one simple action can be so hurtful and can start a ripple affect after yet someone else hurts this person and then another and another which can take a toll on their mental health.
I have heard some complaining about the way the story written about Hannah making those tapes and thinking she was using suicide as her revenge to get back at those kids and it sends the wrong message. I can kind of see how people may think that way but I didn’t see it that way. I saw it more of she just wanting to tell her story about how she got to the point of wanting to end it all because no one saw it. She wanted others to see it. She wanted someone to see she needed help because she couldn’t seek the help out for herself. I don’t think either opinion is right or wrong, I just think it’s more about how someone interprets the story. Which is why I think it’s important that a parent should watch this series with their teen if they feel they are mature enough for it. Perception can go many different ways.
The other complaints that I don’t agree with is the glamorizing of Hannah like suicide is a “cool thing to do” and build up of the suicide in a way to make it exciting. That’s not what I saw at all. First of all, I didn’t feel like they glamorized Hannah because even though there were kids that were sad about Hannah taking her life (even some that didn’t know her well) and were memorializing her, it’s natural to be sad about something like that or have a memorial. It doesn’t mean they were glamorizing her suicide. I didn’t feel like these kids were thinking it was now okay to just give up their lives just because they hated theirs. There were some kids that didn’t even care what happened even after it happened. It was far from glamorizing it to me. I didn’t feel some sort of build up to the suicide. The suicide never felt exciting to me. Watching the show, I already knew she committed suicide so there was nothing to build up to. Again, it’s all about perception.
I agree with complaints about it being graphic and gritty. I understand where people are coming from. But I was glad they did it the way they did it. It was real and raw. Watering down those particular scenes wouldn’t have gotten the point across as well in my opinion. There are two rape scenes that do not really show any nakedness but the action of performing those scenes are gritty. It’s supposed to make you uncomfortable. And it definitely made me uncomfortable. The act of Hannah’s suicide was gruesome but raw. To me, these things are important to not sugarcoat them. They wanted to make this story have an impact. I don’t see how her suicide can be considered a “how to” either like some people have said. If someone is suicidal, they are going to contemplate how they are going to do it regardless of what was shown in this show. Of course this whole paragraph is just a matter of opinion.
WATCH WITH CAUTION
“13 Reasons Why” series can be triggering. Some of the episodes may be more triggering than others. Before each episode, there are trigger warnings and tells you what those trigger scenes are. If these topics are something that can be triggering to you, don’t watch it. Or at least watch with caution. Like I said, this show is depicted as raw and real. Most complaints that I read are from parents who have let their 12 year old’s watch or complaining that they don’t feel comfortable watching this show with their middle school kids. Remember, this show is rated MA and is not meant for anyone younger than 17 and not meant for middle school kids!
So my advice – If you are someone who can be triggered by these topics, don’t watch it. Or at least be cautious if you do. If you are a parent that refuses to let your kids watch it, then don’t let them. If they have watched it without your knowledge or they say other kids are talking about it at school, then have a conversation with them about it. If you feel your child might be mature enough to watch it even if they are younger than 17, please watch it by yourself first before making the decision to let them watch it. Even at age 17 if they haven’t already watched it by themselves, watch it with them. This is one of those highly controversial shows where different aspects of it can be perceived different ways. There are no right or wrong opinions about this show. Don’t make a decision about watching it based on a positive review. Don’t make a decision about watching it based on a negative review. Don’t even make a decision about watching it based on my review. Make your own decision. Only you can decide what’s right for your kids.
Disclaimer: This is not a paid or sponsored post.