13 Reasons Why stirs up controversey
Netflix’s hottest new show, 13 Reasons Why, has taken social media and the teenage world by storm. The show follows the story of Hannah Baker, a high school teenager who took her own life and left behind cassette tapes explaining the thirteen reasons why she did what she did. The story is told from two sides: Hannah’s own flashbacks and the current day perspective of Clay Jensen, her long time love interest. The show garnered social media attention almost overnight, as millions of people followed the captivating story of Hannah, binging on episodes and finishing the series in just a few nights. The mystery and suspense of the tapes fueled the popularity, as well as the relatable high school occurrences such as bullying and parties gone wrong.
As critically acclaimed as Thirteen Reasons became, it also faced just as much criticism for many reasons. Many believe that the show did not focus on mental health as much as it should have, and portrayed Hannah as a victimized teen rather than a struggling, depressed individual. Sophomore Izzy Guimares corroborated this.
“It was okay as a show, but it did not do a good job of covering the issues of mental illness and suicide,” Guimares stated.
Some viewers believe that the show glamorized the act of suicide and portrayed it in a misleading light. After Hannah died, people payed more attention to her issue, and her school became more empathetic towards her, versus the apathy they had for her when she was alive.
When asked her opinion, sophomore Bilikisu Hanidu said, “The show sent the message that you’ll gain power by ending your life, which is entirely inaccurate.”
Grace Zheng concurred, saying that the depiction of Hannah’s suicide as a revenge ploy, “sent the wrong message, especially to younger, more impressionable teens.”
One of the most highly scrutinized scene of the show was the scene where Hannah ended her life, due to the extremely graphic images and the potential impact it could have on people contemplating suicide. Many mental health professionals have spoken out on this publicly, claiming it could lead to “copycat suicides,” according to The New York Times. However, the show has been praised for their brazen approach to issues such as rape, sexual assault, and bullying.
The show addressed the issues head on and producers were certainly not afraid to spark controversy in exchange for catalyzing the conversations that most people are afraid to have. In fact, MCPS and many schools, such as Poolesville, have sent out letters to parents, warning them of the sensitive material and conversations that have come onto the school grounds due to it. Every school has their own opinion, some encouraging the dialogue, and some advising against it.