Disclaimer: The show includes significant profanity and graphic scenes so viewer discretion is advised. Most critics suggest that only students ages 16+ should be allowed to watch.
An instant sensation, 13 Reasons Why released as a Netflix series on March 31, and the tweets and social media mentions haven’t slowed down since. 13 Reasons Why chronicles the heartbreak of a girl, Hannah Baker, and how each of her “friends” had an impact on why she committed suicide.
The show begins a few weeks after the death of Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford), a junior in high school. Clay (Dylan Minnette), a shy and awkward classmate who had always been in love with Hannah, receives a box full of cassette tapes which contain Hannah’s recounting of the 13 people who caused a particular trauma, and in the tape she describes how they affected her so much collectively that it drove her to suicide.
The Netflix mini-series deals with common teenage themes such as guilt, bullying, isolation, betrayal and conflicted choices. Although difficult to watch, the show has a powerful and important message: Our choices impact those around us in profound ways. To some, the show is perceived as educating the viewer about the motivations, warning signs and effects of suicide. But many people are struggling with the fact that the show seems to glamorize Hannah’s problems and the act of suicide.
Regardless of the mixed reviews, Selena Gomez, the show’s producer, is passionate about the subject matter.
“I see myself as Hannah so much,” Gomez told THR. “The older I get the more insecure I get, which is odd. But that’s something a lot of people can relate to. A lot of girls feel like they have to be a certain way for attention. Social media has amplified all of that.”
Each day in the United States, there are an average of over 5,240 suicide attempts by kids in grades 7-12, and four out of five teens who attempt suicide gave clear warning signs. 13 Reasons Why may be controversial, but the one indisputable property of the show is that people, especially teens, are talking about the topic. Teens are researching, discussing, and exploring the deep, crucial, and difficult themes of the teenage reality.