Everyone and their mother was telling me to watch this so I took a deep breath and dove in.
This series is about teenager Clay Jensen, who receives 13 audiotapes from his friend and not so secret crush, Hannah Baker, after she killed herself. I have read reviews before writing this – good and bad – and here’s my take on it. I found this series intensely compelling and triggering for me in the same turn. Having grappled with depression, suicide, and bullying in the past; I could identify with a lot of what Hannah was going through. I have heard that this series glorifies suicide and makes Hannah out to be some tortured special princess because she killed herself and selfish for taking out so much time and effort to make those tapes in the first place. To that I say; you missed the point.
To write her off as selfish for making the tapes is on the same level of dismissive as the people who disrespected and ignored her feelings to put her in this situation in the first place. “Oh, she just wants attention.” Well, DUH she wants attention! She wanted help and people failed her! And how many people sadly take Hannah’s path and leave people asking why? The whole point of the show is to SHOW WHY. It’s like Juno: if she doesn’t do this, there is no show.
As for glorifying suicide? To me, the entire show just ached with the loss of this girl. The gnawing sadness of Hannah’s death doesn’t seem beautiful to me. It’s heartbreaking. I’ve seen plenty of manga and anime that have the same kind of thing (Suicide Island, for one) and tackling this subject is never going to be pretty or easy. It’s like movies about rape; you’re not going to make any one comfortable or happy and they shouldn’t be (take Irreversible for example… But I refuse to watch it for the graphic scene because I can’t take it). I will freely admit, I flinched at Hannah’s final scene and turned away. I just couldn’t…
That being said, I do have a couple complaints. How many fucking adults with no brain cells are around this girl!? Kids are kids; sometimes they just don’t wanna say or can’t say what they feel may be going on but if all of a sudden my kid lopped off all her hair, I would have some damn questions! Along that same vein, what gypsy did Hannah piss off to have so many terrible things to go wrong so fast!? (That’s a Thinner reference for those who don’t get it…) It may sound insensitive of me but WOW. It’s like they used the character of Hannah to bullet point every single bad thing that could possibly happen to a Caucasian teenage girl in America. What I would have liked to see is SOME of these things addressed and if the show got another season, have ANOTHER girl (or boy) have other things addressed. There don’t always have to be 13 tapes, there could be journal entries, blog posts, paintings, songs; all sorts of ways a kid could express their reasons why. Hell, I say throw an adult in there, too. If there will be multiple seasons of this, there are so many ways this concept can be explored.
All in all, I’m not sorry I watched it but it took an entire Thomas Sanders playlist to cheer me up in order to sleep well. It’s the kind of thing that, as a parent, all I wanted to do was hug my baby close to me. But to say I wasn’t triggered would be a lie. It touched off feelings I battle with every day but I guess it’s best to face those feelings head on and deal with them. And if the show can do that? It must be doing something right.
And if you disagree with me? Remember, this is my OPINION. If you feel motivated to reply, try to do so with some tact and politeness.