I honestly don’t even know how to begin this post. This series had a lot of shock-value, but the strange thing is, it was wildly realistic. The series starts off with a recording of a young high school girl, Hannah Baker, explaining that by the time anyone hears the recording, she will have already killed herself. She then proceeds to explain how she’s recorded 13 different tapes, outlining the 13 reasons that led up to, and caused her suicide. She has requested that 13 people (all who contributed to her suicide in some way) listen to the tapes and pass them along to the next one on the list after finishing.
If you aren’t a fan of dark shows, then you probably won’t like this one. However, I couldn’t help but be drawn in as I witnessed a likeable and charismatic young girl suffer from the constant bashing and bullying of nearly everyone around her. And while she isn’t always the target of the antagonists, she unfortunately must bear witness to some of the awful things that occur behind the scenes of the high school setting.
She quickly learns that her peers only care to look out for themselves, and will easily throw her under the bus to avoid criticism or confrontation from others. She learns that making friends is not an easy task, and that even the people she considers friends at one point or another, make poor decisions and betray her in the end. She is objectified by the students, and has to endure unwanted attention towards her body, and inappropriate ass-slaps by boys in public settings. She has loving parents, but they are constantly swept up in their business, getting by from paycheck to paycheck and in turn paying little attention to their daughter, who is clearly not okay.
The romance in the story is sweet and promising, but unfortunately Hannah pushes away even the boy she secretly loves due to her fear of being used and hurt yet again. She loses trust for everyone around her, and ultimately feels alone and empty. She makes efforts to participate in school activities, like the “Dollar Valentine” or the poetry club, but even those backfire and she’s left in despair. Hannah stands up for herself in many occasions, and faces the criticism head-on, but towards the end she loses the battle and ceases to care about anything. After trying so desperately to get through the drama that has become her life, she comes to believe that the world would be better off without her in it. She cries for help, and even visits the school counselor as a last ditch attempt to save her life, only to be disappointed one final time by his lack of support and professionalism.
Hannah Baker, although not a real student in the real world, has a story that is shared by many. Many students feel afraid to go to school because of the extreme peer pressure and disparagement that exists. And while students should be supporting one another and lifting each other’s spirits, it is exactly the opposite in too many cases. Although one bad-mannered comment may not mean much to the person who says it, it could potentially be the comment that causes someone to pull the trigger. We can’t pretend that we understand what others might be going through. Everybody has their own story, their own past, or their own family issues. There is more to life than meets the eye, and kindness and compassion can mean all of the difference to someone who is struggling with the will to stay alive. This show truly mastered the dangers of teenage life, and the everyday challenges that so many kids must face. While it is a difficult show to watch, the message is quite profound. The show encourages parents and schools to pay better attention to those children who may be struggling. It encourages children to be kinder to one another, and more accepting. It is a devastating portrayal of the sorrows of life growing up, but the sad part is that it’s hardly an exaggeration.
The show concludes with a lot of questions unanswered, making me squirm with anticipation for the second season. Although the ending is sad, as you are made aware from the very beginning, there is still hope for justice to Hannah’s family and a sense of humanity for those people who come forward to make things right for all of those involved. Nothing but amazing things to say about this show and its impact on me, and hopefully on others. Take a chance & give it a watch. I doubt you’ll be disappointed.