13 Reasons Why is one of the newest TV shows to binge watch as of late. The Netflix original, based on the YA (young adult) novel by Jay Asher, is about high school junior Hannah Baker who takes her own life. Two weeks after Hannah’s death, classmate Clay Jensen receives cassette tapes, recorded by Hannah, explaining the reasons for her suicide.
The show follows Clay, as he listens to the tapes. We see flashbacks of Hannah’s life with her parents and friends as she reveals her story up until her death.
Six episodes in and I’m obsessed lovelies. This show is compelling and oh so good. Here are three reasons why I love it:
The “after school special” vibe: I use this description in all the best ways. I grew up on after school specials. Teen drama, angst and love are part of my jam. The YA genre is such a great one as it touches on a time in our lives we can all remember. We all come of age, we all feel inadequate, sad and angry and we are all embarrassed by our parents during our teen years. 13 Ways portrays each of it’s characters with believable amounts of insecurity, raw emotion and enough teenage dribble to make us cringe and sometimes smile.
The suspense: Slowly, so slowly, we are watching how each one of Hannah’s ‘friends’ impact her life. Every episode represents one side of a cassette tape and focuses on one person. Who will it be next week? And what is the deal with Tony? We are lead to believe there is a much larger event that is coming, something that really tips the scale and I think tonight may be the night I stay up till 3:00 in the morning to finish the season. Anyone care to join me?
The importance of addressing teen suicide: It’s such an emotional, difficult topic to broach. As a mom of two teens, I can’t lie and say I’m not uncomfortable with the topic – and I’m a girl that is comfortable talking about most things. It’s fear that keeps us uncomfortable. It’s the unknown. This show, so far, is shedding some light on what is going on in the life of an average high school girl. At one point, one of the students says something like “What happened to Hannah was her decision, she’s going through things we all go through.” While I think the comment is insensitive, it is a way a student may process the tragedy of a suicide.
But is what’s going on with Hannah common? We don’t know, as of episode six, if there is anything else going on emotionally, other than what we see. We don’t know all the answers. We can only watch for signs, right? Just because someone is outwardly functioning does not mean for a second she isn’t inwardly suffering. We just don’t know. This can be terrifying. Which is why I continue to watch.
Kate Walsh as Hannah’s mom gives a heart wrenching performance as a grieving mother desperate in her quest for answers. My heart breaks whenever she is on screen. I lost it today watching an episode where, sitting on Hannah’s bed after giving up looking for any clues she says to her husband “How did we not know? How did I not know?”
Breathe. This isn’t just a show guys. This happens all too often.
And what I am liking about the show is that we get some insight into how other’s actions affect Hannah. It’s difficult to watch and hear some of the nasty things teenagers say and do to Hannah – sometimes, inadvertently. Sometimes it’s due to cowardice. Sometimes it’s due to boys acting like jerks. Sometimes it stems from insecurity. Regardless, what we say and do MATTERS.
We just never know. And since we don’t know what others are thinking, feeling and living, the very least we can do is keep negative comments to ourselves. The best we can do is be kind. Smile. Reach out. Include. Be. Kind. As of episode six, we see what Hannah has endured. We still don’t know why ultimately she chooses to end her life. Her classmate’s actions certainly don’t help as they make her feel more isolated, hopeless and depressed.
13 Reasons Why is a powerful series filled with enough insight, drama and suspense worthy of today’s binge watching audiences. Wont’ you watch with me? Stay up late tonight and catch up. We’ll find out why together.