I feel like I should make it clear right off the bat that I’m not bashing suicide or rape or belittling the survivors. I’m bashing 13 Reasons Why as a show and how irresponsibly it dealt with those issues.
It has been a few weeks. People have moved on. I’m sure you have, too. So, let’s have a rational discourse?
And if you have been waiting to watch the show, don’t read any further. Consider this my official and only disclaimer for spoilers ahead.
Alright. Here goes 13 reasons why I hate this show:
1. The show blames other people for Hannah’s suicide:
Let’s get this one out of the way. It’s why the book and the show exist.
Because Hannah has 13 reasons through which she blames the people mentioned in the tapes for her suicide. She blames them for categorically breaking her mind, spirit, body, and soul.
But our mental health is not solely dependent on other people’s actions. Utter hopelessness and apathy and feeling that there is no other way out leads to suicide. Bullying did not lead Hannah to take a decision to end her life. She herself did.
2. 13 Reasons Why doesn’t mention the word “depression” even once:
That or any other mental illnesses for that matter. It’s a proven fact that more often than not suicidal thoughts are intertwined with depression or other mental health problems but the show doesn’t talk about those.
It rather focuses on self-absorbed teenagers who don’t know any better than talk about real problems that affect a large portion of our population every day.
The show doesn’t talk about the toll that the bullying and harassment and rape had on Hannah’s mind, which makes it very problematic.
3. “You don’t know what goes on anyone’s life but your own.” :
A show shouldn’t make you want to be kind towards people.
You should already know that. Stop pretending to be a good person.
Stop pretending to care when it benefits you and pay attention. Look around you. Listen to people. Extend a helping hand. Be selfless once in a while and do some good, goddamn you.
4. 13 Reasons Why glorifies suicide:
Ijeoma Oluo, in her article titled 13 Reasons Why’ Scared The Shit Out Of Me — And It Should Scare You Too eloquently states “My son had just watched the ultimate fantasy of teen suicidal ideation. He had watched an unhappy teenage girl kill herself, and in doing so, throw all of those who had harmed her into deep regret and shame while the ghost of Hannah got to say, ‘Why didn’t you do anything about this while I was alive?’ He watched suicide as successful revenge.”
Suicide is not a fantasy. And it shouldn’t be paraded around as one.
5. Asking for help is deterred as an option:
Not once does Hannah come out to any of her friends about any of the problems that she had been having. (‘FML Forever’ is not a valid form of emotional support)
In the 13th episode when she finally approaches her counselor, she becomes agitated when she doesn’t hear what she wants to hear and storms out. I should remind you that at this point, she has already recorded the cassettes and has made her decision but is generous enough to give life another chance to not screw her over.
How noble of her.
Instead of spreading the message of patience and understanding, the show deters the audience (especially those who might be going through similar circumstances) from seeking help because according to the show, asking people for help means being shot down because people are selfish.
6. The show expects people to read Hannah’s mind:
“How does it (suicide) look like? Nothing. It looks like nothing”, claims Hannah and then proceeds to blame everyone for not paying attention – to her, to what they were doing to her, to the harm they were causing.
When she finally approaches her counselor, she is very cryptic and vague. Moreover, she went in with her mind already made up. So, many of her problems could have been solved if only she had properly communicated them to anyone.
“Why didn’t you say this to me when I was alive?” Hannah says to Clay in a dream sequence.
Why would you put that sort of responsibility on another person? Why would you expect another person to automatically know what you need? She burdens everyone but herself for a decision she took. TBH, there should have been a tape with her name on it.
7. The show fails to depict what we as human beings can do to help people:
There are so many people out there, watching the show, who are still very awkward when it comes to these issues. They want to help but they don’t know how. This show had an opportunity to address those people and instead chose to take on a toxic narrative that doesn’t help in any way.
8. The show lacked relate-able characters:
As a binge watcher, I don’t ask much from a show. Crisp dialogue, an intelligent narrative and a character I can relate to. The protagonist in any given show is rarely likable but I can expect from a show with a diverse cast such as 13 Reasons Why to have at least one character I relate to.
(Jeff Atkins is an anomaly and I unconditionally love him but the show killed him off which only further validates my point as to how shitty this show actually is.)
9. The show made it hard for me to root for Hannah Baker:
She is a self-absorbed teenager (who isn’t?) constantly victimizing herself and playing the self-pity card. She is such a whiny hypocrite.
One of the main reasons rape cases never turn out in favor of the victim is the lack of evidence and in this case, Jessica was disoriented and incoherent but Hannah witnessed the entire episode.
She could have come forward and helped her friend. She could have done so much more than manipulating the incident to use it to her benefit. But of course, she has to serve her needs first.
Because this show aims at categorically listing out all the problems and then not offering up any solutions.
10. The show does not offer solutions:
There are so many incidents where the show could have taken an initiative to correct the existing stereotypes.
When her classmates claim “she did it only for attention”, the show lets that sentence hang around. This “attention seeking” trait is very commonly associated with people who have suicidal tendencies and the show could have busted up that stereotype but instead, it validated it.
The show doesn’t do anything positive towards rectifying the existent mindset of our society. According to the show, “this is how the world is right now, and this is how people act”. It fails to offer further solutions to it.
11. The show is not “creating awareness”:
Just because people can’t stop talking about the show, doesn’t mean the show is a good, informative show. I’ll give it to the show that it is opening up a dialogue and starting conversations between people because essentially everyone is talking about it.
But “talking about the show” does only so much if the right message is not being circulated.
The show doesn’t offer up a lot of information on how to effectively deal with suicidal tendencies. It doesn’t give any reference to people with friends or family members who’ve dealt with the same.
12. The show is extremely graphic:
More than it needed to be. 13 Reasons Why aggressively showcases gory and brutal scenes involving rape, harassment, violence, and the worst of it all, the suicide scene.
The show chose to show it step by step. The scene is realistic, gratuitous, and it intensely instructive. The audience sees it all. How she does it. The blood. The pain.
The author Jay Asher doesn’t explicitly depict Hannah’s suicide in the book and I think that is something the show should have followed. Her death was tragic enough.
13. The show is dangerous and extremely triggering:
There are so many experts out there right now warning people to not watch 13 Reasons Why for this very reason.
There are so many scenes in the show that are extremely graphic and brutal and therefore can be extremely triggering. The creators could have gotten the point across by showing far less.
The fact that Jessica was raped while she was unconscious and her boyfriend let her be raped is devastating enough without you having to portray it scene by scene.
Same with Hannah’s suicide. Her death was tragic enough. Was it really necessary to show how she bled herself to death? Did it add anything to the story besides the shock value?
I’m not here to convince you to hate the show so we can start an I Hate 13 Reasons Why Club.
If you don’t agree with me, let me know. I have already conceded to the fact that the only thing good to come out of this show is that it has opened up a dialogue. So let’s have a conversation.
But bear in mind not to get swept away by pop-culture because people may be talking about it today, but they will find another show to binge on tomorrow.
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