13 Reasons Why is a Netflix series that was released in March 2017 based on the same name of the 2007 book by Jay Asher. This highly popular show is about a teenage girl named Hannah Baker who commits suicide and leaves behind thirteen tapes for the thirteen reasons that led her to her death.
After the release of its first season, it had received many positive reviews from critics for its performance and much more that it was renewed for a second season, although there is no sequel to the book. While it received many positive feedback, the show also received criticism for its portrayal of self-harm and suicide.
13 Reasons Why has received praise for its honest and mature portrayal of many issues that go on in society today. The show has showed the lives of typical high school students and family life that make some viewers able to relate to the issues.
For example, the show addresses bullying and harassment that goes on inside of school. Many students suffer from these issues because they do not talk about them with trusted adults or friends. Although there are some scenes that are uncomfortable to watch such as sexual harassment, it helps viewers realize that these issues are still commonly present in everyday life today. It opens the eyes of people and makes them aware that this is the kind of world that people live in.
However, the show has stirred controversy for certain subjects portrayed such as suicide, self-harm, and rape. Some critics, experts, and psychologists are concerned that the scene of Hannah’s suicide might trigger or influence others to do the same if they are struggling in the same or similar situation as Hannah’s.
Some have argued that some content might lead to distress in younger viewers. Experts argue that this show could actually generate suicide and self-harm and warned other viewers to be aware before watching the show. Although the show contains scenes of rape in both seasons, its portrayal of one particular scene near the end of season 2 has caused a significant controversy.
This specific scene portrays an incident of male sexual assault and some have argued whether it was necessary to show the graphic scene. In defense, the show stated its intention was to show that these things also happen to men and not only women and there are elements in society that need to be portrayed no matter the controversy.
Because of the issues pointed out by critics and viewers after the first season, Netflix has addressed some of these issues by implementing a warning video made by the cast before viewers watch the beginning of season 2.
Although some have declared season 2 as unnecessary, it goes on to show how Hannah’s death has affected the people around her and how they take responsibility for their actions. Netflix CEO and chairman Reed Hastings has said after the release of season 2, “But nobody has to watch it. We’re an on-demand service, and we feel great about the possibility of season 3 and look forward to supporting the team’s work in that.”
Most recently, because of the show’s high number of viewership and ratings, the show has been renewed for a third season. Many have deemed it unnecessary again, but some want to see what will happen after the major cliffhanger at the end of season 2. According to the show’s cast members and producers, the show’s true intention is to start a conversation. Although this show is controversial, people can continue to see how the show addresses certain issues in society and brings light to dark and mature topics to the world.
Jennie Kim, Grade 10
Immaculate Heart High School