5 Reasons Why Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why is Terrible
13 Reasons Why is a terrible show...and here's why!
Over the past few weeks, I've had a ton of people tell me that I need to check out the new Netflix series 13 Reasons Why. Heck, one of those people was our very own The Rob. I was told that I would be an emotional wreck while watching it and that it portrays teen suicide and depression with respect. I can assure you, that after binging the entire series in one sitting, that is false. And actually, the show is mostly garbage. It was definitely written by 30-somethings trying to seem in-touch with what kids go through (and I know it's based on a book). I can best describe the show as AMC's The Killing meets Dawson's Creek, if all of the writers were terrible and everything is awful all the time. Forgive my lack of leaving tapes behind, but here are My Reasons Why this show is terrible.
WARNING: SPOILERS ABOUT EVERYTHING WILL BE HAPPENING!
1. The Show Shoves Every Teen High School Drama Trope Down Our Throats.
Guys, did you know that high school is a tough place and sometimes people get bullied? Did you know that sometimes people come from different backgrounds and those differences can sometimes lead to trouble? If you didn't before 13 Reasons Why, you can certainly identify what everyone is going through at a glance afterwards. This show runs the gauntlet of shoving every heart-string jerking teen trope of the past 20 years into one show. Here's a list of some of the things we encounter:
- Suicide (obviously)
- Multiple Sexual Assaults
- Teen Drinking
- Teen Drug Use
- Gay Teen Who is Semi-Closeted
- Adopted Asian Lesbian with Two Gay Dads
- Star Basketball Player with Troubled Home Life (his mom dates a white supremacist meth dealer)
- Star Basketball Player Who Gets Away with Everything... Because Basketball
- Parents Who Won't Understand
- Inept Teachers
- Dream Sequence Where Teen Sees Dead Friend in Non-Dead Friend Situation
I understand that the show wanted to portray the real things that teens face on a day-to-day basis, but c'mon, it was almost comical by the end of all the stuff that was happening only to Hannah. You mean to tell me that she has her weird fight with Clay, immediately witnesses the assault of Jessica, and then gets into a car with Sherri, which leads to the stop sign getting knocked over that leads to the death of Jeff, all at the same party? I can maybe see one or two of those things happening, but I was full-out face-palming when the stop sign fiasco happened. Hannah's in High School, not Old Testament Job.
2. Bullying is OK (As Long as a Dead Girl Tells You To Do It)
For a show that has a strong anti-bullying message, the show seems to have no problem glancing over Tape 4, which was Tyler's tape. Hannah basically encourages everyone to bully this kid because of his "stalker" behavior. She goes as far as to tell them to break his windows and then Clay goes the extra step by circulating a nude photo of Tyler that he took (which, btw, is manufacturing and distributing child pornography given the age of the character). What kind of message is that sending? For someone who killed themselves at least in part because of bullying, it seems super crappy that Hannah would send Tyler (even with all of his faults), down a similar path. Or, if the ending of season 1 is to be believed, Tyler is going to become a school shooter next season and make everyone pay for what they've done (and continuing the shows need to have every bad high school thing happen).
3. Every Character is the Worst
I'm aware that the characters are made out to be the scapegoats for Hannah's suicide (more on that later), but everyone was a caricature of "Evil High School Bully." Any character you thought you might actually like turns out to have betrayed Hannah in some way, even if that way was relatively insignificant. I really enjoyed the character of Ryan, but he gets blamed because he published one of Hannah's poems. Yes, please lump him in the same category as Sexual Assault Bryce just because you had extra tapes to fill. That's not even acknowledging the fact that the poem was well-received by the faculty and Hannah herself shared the poem publicly at poetry group. But because some kids made flippant comments about it, better make Ryan feel awful for the rest of his life.
13 Reasons Why had exactly one great character, and that was Jeff. Jeff was awesome. Just a cool dude who was getting tutored by Clay. He helped Clay out with Hannah and was just a good friend. And what did the show do? They had Jeff get killed because of Hannah. The show says "Hey, if you actually are good, you will get killed because we need to fill time with these garbage people archetypes." Alex was an OK character but seemed super unbalanced and his septum ring was not only terrible, but often distracting from any drama that was attempting to unfold.
Also, sidenote: I hate when shows try to just glance over that they have 20-30 somethings playing teens. It became very distracting seeing all of these Juniors having elaborate tats and the scheming capabilities of an Ocean's 11 movie.
Even Clay, the lovestruck protaganist listening to the tapes, is kind of the worst. I know the show had to be 13 episodes or whatever but if someone who killed themselves gave me some tapes to listen to, I'm gonna binge-listen as fast as possible so I can figure out what to do next.
4. ...And the Worst Character IS Hannah!
For someone we are supposed to feel sympathy for from the beginning (given that she has killed herself), Hannah sure does her best to make sure we feel nothing for her. This is where things might get a bit muddy in this article as I don't want to seem like I am victim blaming or whatever (despite the obvious that Hannah isn't real), but Hannah makes some very stupid mistakes throughout the entire series.
For one, after she has already had failed relationships with Justin and Marcus, she then thinks that Zach might be different. Guuuuuuuuurrrrrrrllllll, leave the ****ing basketball team alone. What good was honestly going to come from that? If you get screwed over by different people from the same group, you just avoid that group altogether. It's very simple. And then she continues to associate with them even after Jessica is assaulted by Bryce, which, at least in part, leads to her own assault. I'm really trying not to seem insensitive, but as a viewer that is incredibly frustrating.
Hannah also sucks because of how she treats everyone around her. When Ryan approaches her at the poetry meeting, she's a dick to him for no reason. She gets petty and jealous of Jessica and Alex, which is realistic, but also not their fault. When Jessica slaps her, it was incredibly deserved. Aside from the stuff at the beginning with Justin, Hannah plays some role in the bad things that happen to her.
5. The Show Romanticizes Self-Harm/Suicide
Hear me out: The show is supposed to be about how we can all prevent someone from killing themselves just by being nice to them. And that is absolutely bulls***. Some people, no matter what we try to do, are going to take their own lives. It's sad and it's brutal, but it's the truth. The entire idea behind the show is insulting to those who actually have mental issues that lead to them taking their own lives. Not once in 13 episodes does Hannah take any responsibility for what she does. She blames everyone around her, trying to guilt them from beyond the grave.
This idea that Hannah would still be here if Clay hadn't left the room the night she pushed him away or if the guidance counselor had chased after her, is complete trash. They did everything they could, and in Clay's case, he did what Hannah asked him to do, which was leave. The dream sequence where Clay says he loves her and dream-Hannah says "Why didn't you say this when I was alive" made me want to uppercut my TV. He probably didn't say it while you were alive because you were too busy chasing after whatever jock was going to be terrible to you, and if you weren't doing that, you were playing with his feelings.
I say the show romanticizes suicide because it does. Here is the actual scene from the show where Hannah ends everything:
WARNING: Graphic Content
The way the scene was shot suggests that now Hannah's pain is over and everything is going to be OK. The way the tub overflows with blood has a macabre beauty to it. I will give this scene credit though for showing the pain of her parents. That was one thing that the show nailed, even if Hannah never once, in any of her tapes, apologizes to her parents for what she has done, which is a total Hannah move.
For all Hannah's awfulness, the most disgusting line of the entire series award goes goth-girl Sky. When Clay remarks about her self-inflicted cuts, Sky flippantly states "This is what people do who don't kill themselves. Suicide is for the weak." What a great message to send! Sure, you might not be ready to kill yourself, but self-mutilation will suffice in the meantime!
Going back to Hannah, the message that some might get from the show is that suicide is alright, as long as you fully justify it by blaming everyone else for what you do. And be sure to leave a Suicide Note Scavenger Hunt for your friends!
Overall, 13 Reasons Why tried to be ambitious but ultimately fell short. I've seen tons of stuff circulating online that oppose the show because of the glorification of suicide and how that could be triggering to some people. I don't think the show is as triggering as it is just not a very good show. This article doesn't even address the numerous plotholes that take place (such as it being a huge conflict of interest for Clay's mom to be anywhere near the lawsuit and the fact we never figure out what Clay's nightmares are all about).
Since the popularity is overwhelming, I have no doubt that season 2 will be more of the same, only this time most likely dealing with the aforementioned Tyler shooting up Liberty School. I can't wait to see what kind of mixed message that sends!