Meaghan Burke, Staff writer
“13 Reasons Why” may be one of the most dangerous pieces of media released in recent years, yet it continues to top charts everywhere. Although the production team wants to sell viewers by insisting that their show is simply opening up an important conversation; they continue to make the wrong decision at every turn, continuing to make decisions that may have dangerous outcomes for audiences.
First of all, the idea of the show is morally flawed. When someone commits suicide, their voice is lost. The idea of a pretty young girl talking beyond the grave is extremely poetic and severely romanticized. The truth behind suicide is much more bleak.
At the center of the show are the “tapes”. These tapes are left behind by Hannah Baker in an attempt to list the thirteen reasons why she took her own life. The idea is just a cheap way to shift the blame of her suicide to everyone around her. Nobody is responsible for her suicide besides herself, and leaving behind her tapes seems to spread the narrative that committing suicide is the ultimate revenge plan.
Not only is the plot dangerous, but so is the way creators portray it. By physically showing not only a rape scene, but also a suicide, it’s obvious producers are looking for shock value. These scenes could possibly affect people actively struggling with depression or suicidal behavior. There is no reason to show these events in such a graphic manner besides increasing views.
This causes the audience to ask whether the goal is to bring up important issues, or whether they just want viewership and money. It is not possible to discuss mental illness and/or depression if neither of those topics are even mentioned throughout the show. Hannah Baker does not show any symptoms of depression before committing suicide. If this show is supposed to leave a positive impact as they claim, there should be a positive model of coping with depression and suicidal thoughts. This show is so excruciatingly bleak that it leaves viewers, especially the younger ones, with the thought that there is no hope. Mental illness is becoming increasingly important as years go by, and young audiences that may be struggling with depression or anxiety need a positive outlook in order to survive. “13 Reasons Why” is spreading all of the wrong messages.
While the first season may have been bad, the second season seems to get even worst. One of the main plot lines in the second season follows a student who is considering shooting up their school. In the midst of tragedy in America with a new school shooting every week, the idea of publicizing a psychopath who contemplates a mass killing is downright inappropriate.
Audiences see this student relentlessly bullied and harassed in his school. While these students should be punished, this just continues to add to the victim-blaming narrative. As a country, we do not need to understand the logic behind school shootings, because there is none. Producers are begging for sympathy for a potential school shooter, and that is not okay.
Overall, “13 Reasons Why” may be intriguing to viewers, but this show is extremely dangerous and is difficult to support. Americans should be having conversations about mental health, but in a positive way that will allow young people to understand that suicide is never the answer and in a way that makes it obvious that suicide isn’t poetic or romantic, it is devastating and traumatizing.