13 Reasons Why – A Closer Look From A Different Mind
You shouldn’t believe everything that you hear.
Ironically enough, that’s one of the first lessons I believe we were meant to learn in 13 Reasons Why as the lesson applies to the show itself.
I will admit that I judged the show before I watched it myself. Every social media account I have is ablaze with controversy. People either love the show or hate it; more so the latter from my experience claiming that the show “glorified suicide as a means of revenge.” Being an attempted suicide survivor myself, this left a slightly bad taste in my mouth. My already biased opinion was honestly, slightly worsened as I watched the first episode, admittedly probably because I already had the bias in my head and say the main female character, Hannah, as a monster of sorts for deliberately hurting people who cared about her. This made me view a lot of her actions as manipulative; even the most innocent things like flirting with a guy in such a way to get him to pursue her, things that we all do in our everyday lives. This honestly didn’t stop me from viewing Hannah as a master manipulator who had put herself in the victim role in the very beginning.
13 Reasons Why is divided into thirteen episodes with each episode representing a reason for Hannah’s suicide, each connected to a person and the experience recorded on a tape. At some point during the second episode, my opinion began to shift away from seeing Hannah as manipulative and more towards seeing things from her point of view, maybe because I could relate to her in so many ways. This is about the point that I start to question myself and everything I had seen or heard about the show. Clay, a guy who loved her was in possession of the tapes throughout most of the series. Everything you see is through Clay’s eyes as he listens to the tapes and watches Hannah as she goes through everything that led up to her eventual suicide.
As we progress through the tapes and the reasons, we see Hannah betrayed by her closest friends, broken by people she tried to or wanted to trust. We watch Clay’s heartbreak as he watches Hannah break. I have to believe that the writer of 13 Seasons Why was trying to teach humanity a major lesson with many smaller lessons enveloped in the undercurrents of the show. We see the ripple effect as Hannah’s death affects the lives of those surrounding her. It was never about revenge for Hannah, or making everyone feel bad because she was gone. In fact, the only revenge that ever took place happened out of Clay’s love for Hannah and his anger at feeling that everyone had failed her. If people paid attention to the foreshadowing that occurred in an earlier episode where Hannah had a poem stolen from her and then published by another student, then they would realize that the tapes were to serve the same purpose as the poem. Ryan, the same student who stole her poem justified doing so by trying to convince Hannah the world needed to know her pain.
I can’t argue that Hannah didn’t kill herself over normal things that happen every day all around us, but I believe the purpose of the show was to show us how many of these occurrences are glossed over on a regular basis despite the effects those things have on individuals. We see character growth as people learn to come to terms with how their actions had brought about Hannah’s suicide and how some of them learn accountability and simply how to be better people in general and I think that’s part of what the writer of 13 Reasons Why was after.
Perhaps my perspective is different because I am a Depressive and because I lived through a lot of what Hannah went through. Maybe that’s why I found especially the last couple episodes to be so intense. The scenes were graphic and many of them hit too close to home for comfort at times. That being said, I think that everyone could learn from the show. There is definitely something to be said for not taking things at face value or judging anything or anyone based off of the opinions of other people.