“13 Reasons Why”: This Show Should Be Canceled

Controversial Netflix Series Should Have Never Existed In The First Place

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“13 Reasons Why”: This Show Should Be Canceled

A show that claims to discuss teen suicide and depression in an important manner, 13 Reasons Why goes far beyond what it promises and not in a positive way.

A show that claims to discuss teen suicide and depression in an important manner, 13 Reasons Why goes far beyond what it promises and not in a positive way.

Graphic by Kaley Johnson

A show that claims to discuss teen suicide and depression in an important manner, 13 Reasons Why goes far beyond what it promises and not in a positive way.

Graphic by Kaley Johnson

Graphic by Kaley Johnson

A show that claims to discuss teen suicide and depression in an important manner, 13 Reasons Why goes far beyond what it promises and not in a positive way.

Kaley Johnson, Reporter

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In the following article, there is discussion of suicide, mental health and sexual assault, proceed with caution. 

 

 

A show that claims to discuss teen suicide and depression in an important manner, “13 Reasons Why” goes far beyond what it promises and not in a positive way. Based on the book of the same name by Jay Asher, the show’s first season had overwhelming success. But as the show progressed away from the book, it began to gain a large amount of criticism for the way it depicts the struggles of teens and how it may be affecting its viewers. As someone who very hesitantly watched the first two seasons, I’ve chosen to not watch and review the latest released third season and instead explain why this harmful show should be canceled, before the season four is released, or even better, why it should never have existed in the first place.

1. Glorifies Teen Suicide

The first season’s attempt at creating something that will get people talking about teen suicide does exactly that. Hannah’s 13 tapes that she sends out to everyone who “wronged” her before she committed suicide allows for her to leave behind a legacy as if she is speaking to them beyond the grave. Her “this is why I blame you and why you should remember me and feel guilty for the rest of your life,” approach allows not only the people in her school to understand the tragedies she went through, but also her entire town. What person wouldn’t see this and think ‘well I want everyone to remember me too.’ That is not how to talk about teen suicide. This romanticizes and glorifies the devastation caused by suicide. A study was done by the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry in 2013, before the release of the show, and in 2017, nine months after the initial release, which stated that “the overall suicide rate among 10- to 17-year-olds increased significantly in the month immediately following the release.”

2. The One-Sided Male Perspective

This is in no way meant to negatively criticize any male main character. However, Clay Jensen is one of the many people Hannah Baker blames for her turn to suicide. Despite many characters being blamed, the entirety of the tapes Hannah left for them are only seen through Clay’s eyes. And since he was low key obsessed with Hannah, this causes an extreme bias in storytelling, thus affecting the way we see each character whether they are truly at fault or not. Most importantly this affects the way we see Hannah. Because he believed that she could do no wrong, we see her as a victim to feel pity for rather than the manipulative person she was. 

3. Puts Too Much Blame On Bystanders

In her tapes, Hannah explains to each person why she blames them. This is problematic, but we will discuss the issue of her character later. Bystanders can always do their best to not be bystanders, to go to someone and report the situation, to stand up to someone despite possible consequences. Many of the people Hannah blames do have a real responsibility for why she suffered, but too many didn’t. Too many are just Hannah pulling at strings, doing anything she can to not have to take responsibility for her choices and actions throughout the show. She blames anyone that she has a minor negative interaction with. This can be taken by viewers in the wrong way, leading them to believe that anytime they have an interaction with someone in a serious mental condition that it’s their fault for not trying to help “save” them. 

4. No Discussions of Mental Illness and Depression (at least since season one)

In season one there are two instances where mental health and suicide are mentioned. Hannah’s school counselor suggested that maybe she was overreacting to her own rape which brings up the poor way adults tend to deal with mental illness and teen issues. Then we have Clay screaming in the school hallway about how teens need to treat each other better. Fat loud of good that did. Otherwise, since season one there have been no discussions on the importance of helping and preventing events like the ones in the show. They’ve begun using mental illness as an instrument for storytelling as well as an excuse for teenager’s actions.

5. Intense Scenes Used For Shock Factor

Sometimes we have to show the intense things to get people’s attention, to get people talking. This can be argued for a couple of scenes in season one, such as Jessica’s rape and Hannah’s suicide. After the success of the first season, however, more scenes with similar intensity were implemented in the show for reasons that either were kind of a stretch or simply didn’t exist. The most notable occasion being in season two when Tyler, a character who was constantly bullied,  is sexually assaulted in the school bathroom with a broomstick. This, like many others, was the final tipping point for me in choosing to not watch the show moving forward. It’s not hard to figure out that it’s the shocking things that make people want to watch a show and I feel that this is the main reason that these scenes continue to show up, to keep its viewers.

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Throughout its time on Netflix, “13 Reasons Why” has sparked a lot of conversation, both good and bad. But it’s the show’s overflow of intense storytelling strategies, a limited justification for most of the plot lines and general lack of respect for viewers that makes it not only a poor quality show but borderline dangerous for a show directed at our generation.