The beginning of April was quite dramatic. Peter Quinn died leaving me teary-eyed in the season finale of Homeland. Jess and Nick finally got together in the season finale of New Girl. That left me examining my love life. But what moved me most was 13 Reasons Why.
But what moved me most was 13 Reasons Why.
I binge-watched it, unable to tear away. So this post is dedicated to all of us watching it.
Simultaneously, I am intrigued.
And surprisingly thankful that I’m alive.
Do I sound crazy?
I just finished watching 13 Reasons Why.
If you don’t know what that is, it’s currently the most criticized and talked about Netflix Originals.
A lot of people described it as a show about a teenager in yet another high school who is disturbed and takes her life. I think it’s much more than that.
I think it would be unnatural if somebody was left undisturbed after all that had happened to Hannah Baker.
That’s her name, Hannah Baker.
So what had actually happened to Hannah Baker? (Spoilers ahead)
She moves to a new town and just like any of us, hopes for a new start. She thinks a guy is cute and goes out for milkshakes with him. That guy, Justin, takes an upskirt picture of her on a slide which is later sent out by his band of brothers virally through school. She is then betrayed by two of her best friends, feeling isolated and left out. Soon, a list is sent out: best lips, best ass, best boobs, you know…crude objectification that we’ve been through or put someone through too.
The person who made the list is her ex-friend, Alex, who was basically ticked with his ex-girlfriend Jessica, for not putting out.
The ramifications of being called easy are not to be missed.
Public teasing, lewd gestures soon lead to physical assault as a joke by asshole-predator called Bryce aka the high school jock I hope have stopped existing.
After being called out for being a lesbian, an easy lay and inappropriately touched by another classmate, Hannah is unable to kiss the guy she really likes…Helmet aka Clay.
Low on testosterone and high on kindness and compassion, Clay is the touchstone of humanity, love, and righteousness.
Soon, she discloses her worst secret that’ll send chills right down your spine. She describes her ex-friend, Jessica being raped by her boyfriend’s friend, in the name of bro-code. I thought we were done with the worse when she gets raped by the same guy, Bryce at another party.
Shunned by authoritative figures in her life, including her school counselor alienates her more till she feels depleted.
But before she slits her wrists and decides to put an end to a disturbing series of events, she decides to record it and send it those who were involved. After sending it to the 11th person, who is also the narrator, the script depends on the wrongdoers and their morality. They have the choice to destroy the tapes and move on or own up to their mistakes.
A Kaleidoscope Of Characters, 13 Reasons Why
Her unruly hair, her million dollar smile, and her denim jacket are some of the things that make Hannah instantly likable. Millions of us can relate to her—dewy-eyed about a new beginning, hoping to find a guy who catches her drift…adding a little sparkle to her life. While actor Katherine Langford did a great job, Hannah was imperfect, and that was relatable. She asks Clay to leave when she wants him to stay. She is scared that no one in her little world will turn about to be decent yet hopes there’s someone there.
Alex and Justin are the guys I feel both sorry and disgusted for—simply because they do disagreeable things to please someone they wanna impress. They define what peer pressure is, and how early this phenomenon gets us in life.
Jessica is the cool girl. Not the cool girl from Gone Girl’s monolog, but the one who is loved by all her guy friends and is asked out regularly. She is super faithful and crazy about her boyfriend who doesn’t always treat her well. Caught up in being around popular kids in school, she is betrayed by herself and those around her. Her rape is a realistic portrayal of how a lot of men (teens, tweens, and adults) still don’t know that no means no. Or that a drunk chick doesn’t equal to an opportunity.
Bryce is the kinda guy you’d never think would do such a thing. An entitled jock, captain of the football team comes from an affluent family. He has his friends—more like brothers who have to like him for all the things he does for them. Dominative by nature, he is a sexual predator in the making. Not only does he rape Jessica, his friend, when she is passed out but goes for it a second time with Hannah. The worst part? When Clay confronts him, he doesn’t recount is as rape. Many guys think that if a girl smiles, gets drunk or sits in a car or a hot tub, she wants them. Bryce represents men who need to be educated, or shot in the head.
Lastly, Clay. Oh, Clay. Clay is so much like the guys I’ve liked and come across during my teens. Incredibly intelligent, sensitive and insanely shy, to me, Clay is the guy. He’s the guy you should have as a friend, as a colleague, as a boyfriend, as someone who’ll do the right thing in his own way. I really wish Clay would have told her how much he loved her.
The portrayal of grief-struck parents aka Mr. and Mrs. Baker is played by Kate Walsh and Brian d’ Arcy struck a chord with me. The tears, the sleepless nights and the refusal to let the case go without a fight were absolutely heartbreaking. The plight of not knowing what happened to their daughter is every parent’s nightmare.
The Real Context: 13 Reasons Why is NOT just about high school
It’s not just about high school. The story of 13 Reasons Why written by author Jay Asher can be a story that can be adapted to any age, or any part society. There are cliques everywhere—look at your boss with his wing of trusted employees who get timely promotions. The pretty girls in college who love to gossip sans consequences. It could even be your family shunning you for being different or being you.
The sheer insensitivity of which we all are going through lives shines through the show.
Clay puts it well in the last episode He’s talking to his school counselor when he says“We need to start treating each other better.”
What’s missing in our life, according to 13 Reasons Why
If I call one of my girlfriends and tell her I’ve been called a slut, she’d probably recall a similar story.
If I tell someone I was harassed in the metro, they’d recount a similar incident.
Let’s stop normalizing it.
Let’s also stop blaming the girl for putting herself in a vulnerable position that could lead to assault.
When Hannah walked into Bryce’s house, my first thought was of blaming her for being at his house. But that’s wrong.
So let’s stop blaming Hannah for what happened, or why she didn’t struggle or run away but let it happen.
Finally, let’s stop minimizing other people’s emotions. Hannah felt so depressed, alone and objectified that she took her life. In the producer’s words, something called “emotional education” is missing in our course structures.
Lastly, think of the bigger picture. Things can suck, and bad can turn to worse. So help those around you in seeing the light too.
What did you think of 13 Reasons Why?
Would you show it to your children?
Did you ever think of hurting yourself? Feel free to talk in the comments’ section.