13 Reasons Why: Nothing is Ever as it Seems.
13 Reasons Why is by far one of the most disputed shows on the Internet today and not all of it is coming from the internet’s trolls. The amount of controversy and problematic opinions this series has evoked is truly remarkable.
Starring the magnificent and immensely talented Katherine Langford as ‘Hannah Baker’, the show revolves around a young girl’s suicide in season one and this storyline is further progressed in season two. The show was first premiered on Netflix on March 31, 2017 and proved to be exceedingly popular quite instantly. Since then, it has received a ton of positive reviews as well as a ton of backlash. Critics and viewers have praised its subject matter, and the show’s massive popularity with Selena Gomez as executive producer has definitely spread awareness and initiated conversations on delicate issues all around the globe, but, it seems to have lost its ideal reactions simply because of the slight romanticism of suicide and its inability to tread delicately around topics like rape and bullying in schools. Further the events seem to be exaggerated for dramatic effect. The controversial triggering and graphic scenes seem to be more for shock value than to actually enhance plot lines or spark change.
A warning appears before and after every episode, which I sincerely hope people do pay heed to. There are helplines and various other resources provided throughout the seasons for people struggling with any mental health issues, bullying, homophobia and so on which I do appreciate but the content of the show could have definitely been made better with a more erudite set of morals as baselines.
Nonetheless, despite all this backlash surrounding the series, one cannot deny that it has got people talking. It has inspired change. Topics like self-harm and mental disorders are still taboo but 13 Reasons Why has certainly helped initiate conversation portals for everyone. Schools have gotten guidance counsellors, mental health awareness clubs have been founded, parents have been enlightened and the list is endless. So, it has definitely done a lot of good.
13 Reasons Why starts with Hannah Baker, a student at ‘Liberty High’ who has killed herself, leaving behind tapes to tell her side of the story of what really happened and why she made that choice. The tapes are passed around the school in what appears to be a very elegant well-thought out plan. ‘Clay Jensen’ played by Dylan Minnette, who had a crush on her and seems to be dealing with her loss the worst, hears said tapes and begins to feel like he never really knew Hannah at all. His character is impulsive seems to be on the brink of insanity multiple times throughout the show. In what was initially a gripping story line, season one seems to end with some sort of closure for everyone. But season two begins with another suicide, albeit a failed attempt and it is revealed that Hannah’s parents are suing the school for not taking care of their daughter, and that the characters have much more to share. There are a lot of unnecessary figures involved here like Hannah’s mother’s friend, women who give testimonies and so on who don’t really contribute much in terms of furthering the narrative.
The show in itself is quite circuitous. It’s a bit drawn out and very anticlimactic. Every time a narrative is outlined, the series seems to veer off in a completely different direction. Whether this was done purposefully or was just a result of sloppy writing, we may never know. The issues that have been dealt with in the show seem to be trivialised at multiple points, it doesn’t really ever go into depth or show consequences or mind sets of the characters that are being subject to some of the most torturous experiences any human has to go through.
However, the actors in the series have done a fantastic job at portraying the composite characters. Katherine Langford has even received a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Actress in a Drama Series.
The series is rated for ages 16 and above on Netflix, but viewers should take caution before delving into this show, its not for the faint hearted that’s for sure.