I had seen the show advertised on Netflix, read some small snippet about it, and had already decided not to watch it. But, something about the e-mail pushed a button inside me. The wording of it brought me back to my own high school experiences. It reminded me of a well-intentioned school counselor who was actually the unwitting accomplice to one of the biggest gossip and slander circles in my small town. I decided I didn't want to let rumor or hearsay make my choices for me. I wanted to see the show for myself.
I watched two episodes that night and three the next night. My oldest daughter (18 and graduating soon) was home while my youngest and my husband were in Canada for a kayaking regatta. We both tried to analyze the show and use the school district's warnings to do so.
Did it glorify or romanticize suicide? No. It might romanticize revenge, but not suicide. We thought that it might be a stretch for a teenage girl in the midst of suicidal depression to do something so rationally planned as to record 13 tapes designated for those who caused her pain. The amount of time along with the amount of pain she is in seemed to indicate to both of us that the tapes, if someone made something like that, might not have the same "rationality" that is implied in the show. However, in the second episode, we are given reason to doubt the validity of Hannah's truths. We start to wonder if she is an untrustworthy narrator, or if the listener of the tapes is an untrustworthy narrator. I thought this was very well-played and made the situation far more realistic.
Does the show portray adults as absent or ineffectual? (another school district concern) Adults are definitely involved in the characters' lives. Many of them show genuine concern and attempt to help the characters. However, some of the adults are well-intentioned but clueless, and some are knowledgeable but can't seem to get through to the characters. This struck me as realistic. I've been the daughter and friend of suicidally depressed individuals. Even when those of us around those individuals care deeply, our words are not always heard and our attempts to change the course of someone else's decisions do not often feel effective. In addition to those experiences, I was bullied throughout my school years and I did not find adults who were able to help. Even my parents who tried really hard just made the situation worse and I stopped looking for adult help by the time I reached fifth grade. (There is more to my story than I can possibly begin to unpack here so I won't, but let's just say it didn't just involve same-age bullying and school bullying. This was a community issue.)
The show is compelling; there are some pretty huge hooks that lead the viewer into wanting to watch episode after episode, and as the show continued I found more and more parallels to the type of bullying I experienced as a middle school and high school student. For me, as a post-bullied adult, I started to struggle with my own emotional reaction to the memories that this show dragged to the surface for me. So, again, I think it has some realism in the midst of some of the teen movie tropes that are apparent from the onset of this show.
I went online to find out more about the show and its creation. Guess what? It's a book. You probably already knew that, but I didn't. I found this article about Jay Asher, the author, and the original ending. In this interview, I discovered several more compelling reasons to watch the show and to find the book. Jay Asher's own backstory for writing this book gave me a reason to want to read it and finish watching the show.
So, I've given six reasons to watch 13 Reasons Why and I plan to revisit this in the next month or so, as I finish the series, find the book, and read the book.
Meanwhile, the Hero Lost: Mysteries of Death and Life blog tour is going strong and adding stops, so please come on by these this week:
May 7 - Ronel - Interview with Multiple Authors
May 8 - Bish Denham - Guest Post
May 8 - Patricia Lynne - Guest Post
May 9 - ChemistKen - Guest Post
May 10 - M.J. Fifield - Guest Post
Mysteries of Death and Life
An Insecure Writer’s Support Group Anthology
Can a lost hero find redemption?
What if Death himself wanted to die? Can deliverance be found on a bloody battlefield? Could the gift of silvering become a prison for those who possessed it? Will an ancient warrior be forever the caretaker of a house of mystery?
Delving into the depths of the tortured hero, twelve authors explore the realms of fantasy in this enthralling and thought-provoking collection. Featuring the talents of Jen Chandler, L. Nahay, Renee Cheung, Roland Yeomans, Elizabeth Seckman, Olga Godim, Yvonne Ventresca, Ellen Jacobson, Sean McLachlan, Erika Beebe, Tyrean Martinson, and Sarah Foster.
Hand-picked by a panel of agents and authors, these twelve tales will take you into the heart of heroes who have fallen from grace. Join the journey and discover a hero’s redemption!
Website - Lost Hero Anthology
Have you watched or read 13 Reasons Why? And, what happens when you read a warning label for a show or book? Does it drive you away or make you curious? Does it depend on how that warning is worded?
BTW - I think the Hero in 13 Reasons Why is definitely lost so it kind of fits the Hero Lost blog tour days in a seriously stretched way.