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‘13 REASONS WHY’ SPARK’S CONVERSATION

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Denise Mungor, Student Journalist

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There are a lot of stereotypes out there about our generation: we’re addicted to social media, we don’t work hard, and we don’t know what good music is. Overall, there’s a generalized assumption that we have it easy. So why is teen suicide the second leading cause of death among teenagers?

Netflix’s latest binge-worthy series, 13 Reasons Why, focuses on Hannah Baker, a Junior in high school who took her own life. Hannah leaves behind a series of 13 tapes that are to be delivered to certain individuals she claims are the reason she killed herself.

When I first started the show, I had my own assumptions, and even after episode 1, judged the show to be nothing but white, privileged teenager’s being portrayed in an after school showing of ABC Family. But by a few episodes in, the viewer realizes that 13 is not a typical teenage drama. It is meant to hone in on issues that we often shy away from. Typically, when a show portrays someone suffering from suicidal thoughts or a victim of sexual assault, they are portrayed in a cheesy, preachy way and don’t truly delve into the dark traumas teens face today. 13 Reasons Why dissects the damage the victim experiences and shines an honest light on the teenage issues such as bullying, rape, isolation, and suicide.  

The show is many things; it’s a coming of age story, a compelling mystery, and an insightful psychological drama. The pilot opens with a myriad of photo’s, flowers, and kind notes on Hannah’s locker, implying that her death isn’t meant as a shock, but as a mystery for the viewer. As the show goes on, it unravels a tragic revelation, in which you are now fully enveloped in the character of Hannah, and, whether you’re comfortable with it or not, come to understand why she takes her own life. Brian Yorkey, the executive producer, claims that telling the story through a series would properly flesh out the characters, instead of being condensed into one movie. Yorkey stated in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, “Jay wrote this book that was incredibly, incredibly tragic and that was dark in so many ways but ultimately was hopeful and ultimately I think to bring light back into the world. I think it’s an experience that ultimately is bringing light to very difficult and dark topics in a very difficult and dark time.”

The book, of the same name, is largely aimed at younger audiences, but the story reaches parents as well. There’s almost an underworld of bullying and harassment. Mostly, it’s done through social media between the perpetrators and the victim. Insults may be publicly posted, prompting others to join in on the bullying.

Isolation is one of the many results of bullying, but through social media, ostracization is done faster and harsher. Of course, parents love and care for their children, but it’s difficult to understand this digital world, much less what’s going on in teen’s heads. In the show, we see the parents of the bullies saying, “My son would never do that, I’ve raised him better than that,” or, “He’s such a sweet boy, that’s impossible.”

Unfortunately, this is a common trend in reality, where parents are blatantly unaware of their children either being bullied or being the culprit of someone else’s suffering. Co-producer, Selena Gomez, commented on the show, claiming that she wanted to show something real and something that would influence teens. “Unfortunately, kids don’t care. They don’t care. They have to see something that’s going to scare them. They need to see something that’s frightening… I want them to understand…”

 

Photo Credit: [email protected]_out”  Unaltered photo by OFTO  [Flickr). Some rights reserved.  <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/> <https://www.flickr.com/photos/ofto/4808259718/in/photolist>

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‘13 REASONS WHY’ SPARK’S CONVERSATION