Selena Gomez was the only reason I wanted to watch 13 Reasons Why. I was expecting a light, drama-filled teen TV show, but what I saw took my breath away.
The web series will churn your stomach, but it draws a realistic picture of what happens in schools and colleges. Teenagers and parents need to watch it. A word of caution to parents: it will leave you shocked and in denial.
The most controversial show right now, 13 Reasons Why addresses bullying in more ways than one. I didn’t know there are various types of bullying. My perception was: one big kid leading ruffians, pushing kids, stealing their money and lunchboxes.
Without giving out spoilers, the show is based on a teenager, Hannah Baker, who leaves behind tapes for classmates who were responsible for her suicide. Bullying, sexual assault, and suicide are the main topics of the show. If you are victim of sexual assault or struggling with depression and suicide, this show will set off triggers. It is advisable to avoid watching it. The execution will leave you at the edge of your seat and various parts of the content will strike a chord.
For me, it drew attention to how one’s actions and words can unknowingly impact a friend, colleague, acquaintance, family, classmate, or anyone you interact with. Till I watched the show, I didn’t realize that my inactions could affect someone else. We are quite often responsible for another person’s frame of mind.
It took me back to the times I didn’t stand up for someone, when I used sarcasm to put someone down. I also wondered if had made a positive impact on anyone’s life. 13 Reasons Why… is a graphic series, but it will make you think if your passive or active bullying caused something like this. Though the graphic suicide scene at the end is a hot topic, we—friends, teachers, and parents—should focus on spotting and helping those who are undergoing depression.
However, 13 Reasons Why is laced with controversy even as the show is set for Season 2. A point of contention is the poor depiction of depression. The web series does little justice to capture the true essence and steps involved in depression. Hannah Baker goes through rapid incidences that climax with her suicide. The show doesn’t give a complete picture of what happens with a person struggling with depression and suicidal tendencies.
Secondly, the web series romanticizes suicide, which sends a wrong message to those struggling with suicide. Hannah Baker takes a life in the most dramatic and controversial way in a bid to teach her classmates a lesson, to help those with suicidal thoughts. Suicide is not a heroic act and certainly not the way to teach others a lesson. It will leave a vacuum in the hearts of the people who love you.
Thirdly, other people are not the only cause of suicide. Suicide cannot be prevented just by being nicer to people. Studies show that in a majority of cases, these people suffer from mental health issues, which can be treated with medical counseling. Our duty is to look out for signs of depression among our friends, colleagues and family members.
Lastly, if you are a person suffering from anxiety, depression, loneliness or low self-esteem, do not hesitate to talk about this to a person close to you or maybe a priest or nun. Remember, quite often people may not understand what you are going through unless you tell them.
These should be a disclaimer for this show:
- If you are victim of sexual assault, bullying or objectification, 13 Reasons Why will bring back painful memories.
- If you are going through depression or struggling with suicidal tendencies, this is not the show to watch.
- Watch it if you are mentally strong and able to separate fact from fiction.
by Trina Remedios
Trina is based in Mumbai. Health & Travel writer by profession. Wife by marriage. Daughter by birth. Unique by God. Bonkers to friends.