13 Thoughts After Watching 13 Reasons Why

*There are spoilers of the TV series, 13 Reasons Why, in this post*

Over this weekend I am fairly certain that 99.9% of the global population has been watching the Netflix series ’13 Reasons Why’. (I just spent a worryingly lengthy amount of time attempting to locate the percentage sign on my keyboard). Twitter is absolutely mad for it and the reviews of the show have mainly been positive but their have been comments made about room for concern about whether the show accurately portrays mental health and whether or not the show is triggering to those that suffer from mental illness.

The show tells the story of Hannah Baker, a girl who kills herself, and explains the reasons why she did through a series of cassette tapes that she leaves behind for the people involved. The series is told in 13 episodes, each episode telling the story behind one of the tapes and shifts between two different time frames: flashbacks to incidents whilst Hannah was still alive and present day.

  1. The series really accurately portrays bullying in school and the different kinds of bullying there are, especially the rise of cyberbullying. The show goes a long way to demonstrate that the things that you do that you may not consider to be bullying, can have a massive impact on someone. Zach stealing from Hannah’s compliments envelope meant far more to her than he realised. NSPCC figures suggest that almost half (46%) of children and young people have been bullied at some point in their lives.
  2. ’13 Reasons Why’ is a massive eye opener to rape culture and really goes to show how instilled it is in society from such a young age. Although not everybody will experience rape, most girls will certainly experience sexual assault like Bryce grabbing Hannah in the supermarket or sexualisation in the form of lists similar to those in the series. 1/3 of female students in the UK have experienced inappropriate touching or groping at university (Telegraph, 2015).
  3. The show also demonstrates how peer pressure and ‘lad culture’, especially among boys is a serious problem in schools. Alex and Clay feel compelled to drink and join in with antics in order to fit in with the jocks. Alex feels compelled to fill in Bryce’s best and worst list, sexualising the girls at school, in order to appease him and fit in.
  4. There is very little discussion of mental health in the series given so many of the characters obviously struggle with it. There are multiple characters that show signs of struggling with their mental health – Hannah, Clay, Jessica, Alex, Sky, Tyler…the list goes on. Possibly the absence of discussion about it in the series is to highlight how much it obviously needs to be discussed and should have been discussed in the first place?
  5. The main premise of the show is that the amalgamation of the actions of her peers went some way to her eventual suicide at the end of the series. It really makes viewers reconsider their own actions and the flippant comments they may make on a daily basis and consider the harmful effects it can have on others. Bully victims are between 2 to 9 times more likely to consider suicide than non-victims, according to studies by Yale University
  6. It also demonstrates that the things you don’t do, are just as important as the things you do. Clay’s tape essentially came down to the fact he didn’t really do anything to help Hannah. Clay recognises there was more that he could have done as a friend to help Hannah. The series goes too far to romanticise this idea too much however. “I cost a girl her life because I was too afraid to love her”. Love is not a cure for mental illness.
  7. Jeff <3 Need I say more? Just Jeff. 
  8. I feel like the portrayal of Mr Porter on his tape could put off those who need the help from asking for it. Mr Porter is the school’s councillor who is very dismissive of Hannah and victim blames her a bit for the rape when she comes for help. Although, there are many schools etc that do lack good support systems. To those watching who might need the help, Hannah referring to this as her last attempt at life and her final attempt at getting help and watching this, might feel discouraged from reaching out for help themselves.
  9. There is definitely an overwhelming feeling of blaming people for suicide and revenge for people’s doings. Suicide isn’t an act of revenge. Tyler, who is outed by Hannah in the tapes for stalking her, is bullied himself by the other listeners of the tapes, encouraged by Hannah herself. Rocks are thrown at his window and Clay goes as far as sharing a naked photo of him. For a show that purports anti-bullying, it’s interesting that the protagonists of the show, Hannah and Clay, are both guilty of making Tyler feel miserable himself.
  10. I’m left confused about the character of Sky. I understand the ending where Clay asked Sky to hang out some time, as him going out of his way to be nice and to ensure she doesn’t feel alone. However, Sky’s line, “This is what people do who don’t kill themselves. Suicide is for the weak.” embodies everything that the series is against.
  11. I think this show could definitely be triggering for those that suffer from mental illness or suicidal thoughts. This show wrongly teaches those that do that only after they’ve killed themselves will some people understand they may have done wrong to them or see the error of their ways. Suicide should never be an act of revenge.
  12. The casting is perfect. Dylan Minnette is great as Clay and Katherine Langford makes a convincing Hannah. And can we please discuss her Australian accent in 13 Reasons Why: Beyond the Reasons??
  13. I AM LEFT WITH SO MANY QUESTIONS. Will there be a second series? What does Mr Porter do with the tapes? What do Hannah’s parents do with the tapes? Does Bryce go to prison? Is Alex alive? Where is Justin going? Why does Justin have a gun? What happens to Clay? What happens with the court case? Does Courtney come out? What is Tyler doing with those guns? What happens to Tony?

For more information about mental health and mental illness

W: www.mind.org.uk

T: 0300 123 3393

If you need to talk to someone about how you’re feeling

Samaritans have a 24 hour helpline available every day of the year.

You can call the Samaritans helpline on 116 123.

If you are worried about being overheard, or would prefer to write things down, you can email the Samaritans at jo@samaritans.org

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2 Comments

  1. May 7, 2017 / 4:13 am

    My biggest concern with the show, while I will admit that I was very drawn in and enjoyed much of it, is that I felt like it didn’t do anything to ‘de-glamorize’ suicide. The way they portray the blame side of the show, as you referenced, makes it almost seem as though when someone commits suicide there is another clear individual or individuals to blame for causing it, skipping entirely over all the deeper reasons that really are the cause behind it happening – like depression, anxiety, issues of self worth and self esteem, etc. I worry that it will give the impression her suicide is fully justified due to the actions of those around her, and that some of the more impressionable or vulnerable viewers may then see their own situation though this lens.

    Britt | http://alternativelyspeaking.ca/

    • May 7, 2017 / 12:19 pm

      I agree! I enjoyed it but almost feel bad for enjoying it. I feel like the show was very much made for people who don’t suffer to teach people how their actions can have an impact on those that already suffer with their mental health. For people that are suffering that are watching, it kind of encourages the blame game and glamourises the idea of it with the tapes, kind of makes suicide an act of revenge.

      Glad you enjoyed reading!

      Izzy x

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