Certainly you’ve heard of 13 Reasons Why, the Netflix teen drama everyone, it seems, is talking about. I’ve watched the first three episodes of it, and I’m not impressed. Allow me to tell you the reasons why (see what I did there?).
1. I hate bad premises
I still haven’t watched Jane the Virgin, because I hate shows with ridiculous premises. While the idea of teen suicide and suicide notes is a truly tragic event that happens all too often. However, I’m not sold on the idea of a desperate, suicidal girl recording 13 cassette tapes (where does she even get those? Where can you find blank tapes?), blaming 13 different people, and having them all painstakingly delivered on pain of… what? Publishing them?
2. Hannah Baker
I’m all for unreliable, and even unlikable protagonists. It’s better storytelling. But I can’t stand Hannah (Katherine Langford). From episode one, she strikes me as a mean-friend to Clay (Dylan Minnette). Everywhere
3. The Bakers (parents)
Really. Suing the school because you couldn’t notice your kid was suicidal either? She says herself that sometimes Hannah was happy and sometimes she barely spoke. That sounds like bipolar disorder, Mrs. Baker, and perhaps you could have investigated instead of passing it off on the school, that has hundreds of students to try to take care of? I know the role the counselor Mr. Porter (Derek Luke) played, but still…
4. Clay Jensen
It’s not that I dislike Clay. I do dislike the outrageous example of “telling instead of showing” when he informs Alex (Miles Heizer) he gets “panic attacks.” He is, so far, a bland character, merely a clean slate to experience Hannah’s tapes on. Sure I know about what happens later, when he starts physically confronting people, but that seems less character development and more… “Wow, this guy is boring. Make him edgy!”
5. The school
I know what happens at the end with Mr. Porter. That was ridiculous. But also, no one paid attention to these rumors? Compromising pictures of minors is a crime. It’s enough to get another 16-year-old put on the sex offenders list forever. And no teachers noticed? No one confronted Justin (Brandon Flynn) or Hannah? What about when Alex adds to that list? In my high school, that would have been in-school suspension in-school suspension in a heartbeat.
6. The boys
When I lose interest in something, I look up the ending on Wikipedia (or relevant sites). So I know about Bryce the Rapist (Justin Prentice). Are there any dudes in this school who aren’t stalkers, rapists, or just general misogynists? Please.
7. The Ending
A big part of the reason I won’t finish is the gruesome ending. I understand that they put an viewer advisory warning on the episode, but…who listens to that? The only reasons to be that graphic is to shock everyone. Maybe it’s good for people that have no experience whatsoever with mental illness, but let’s be honest, it’s going to attract people that have experienced mental illness. And watching someone commit suicide? Great idea. I can’t imagine what could go wrong what could go wrong in showing people a graphic suicide scene.
8. How It Handles Mental Illness
Most neurotypical people are not going to kill themselves due to bullying. Not none, for sure, but most of these kids will be dealing with other mental health issues as well. Hannah? There’s a hint of bipolar disorder or depression (see above), but nothing else. Mental illness is the leading cause of teen suicide (most suicide!) why don’t we see any reference to this?
That’s all I’ve really got. I don’t want to waste time on this show any longer.
Watch it, if you aren’t going to harm yourself by doing so. Otherwise, maybe read a synopsis and check out other reasons why people aren’t tuning in.
And remember: You’re not alone. The US suicide hotline is 1-800-273-8255. You can find the number for other countries here.