I have a tendency to binge watch shows. I do the same thing with a good book, reading the entire thing in one sitting. I have this innate need to know what happens, to put all the pieces of the puzzle together, to reach resolution.
Last week I stumbled upon the newly released Netflix series, 13 Reasons Why. I started Tape 1: Side A at 10am Wednesday morning, and barely unglued my eyes from the TV for the remainder of the day. I was transported into the world of Hannah Baker. I could see her journey and feel her pain. In 13 episodes, I experienced every emotion possible: tears, laughter, anger, frustration, hurt, joy, confusion, hope, disbelief. It was intense, but worth it.
Feeling emotion is always worth it. Digging into the hard stuff carries a necessary rawness, a unique sense that we are not alone.
It would be easy to binge watch Friends or The Office. I know we all miss the characters / shows, but even the reruns keep us in a lighthearted place. We know that everything works out. (**Spoiler Alert**) Rachel gets off the plane, and Michael makes a much-needed appearance at Dwight’s wedding. In both of these examples, we are given a sense of closure.
That is not the case with 13 Reasons Why.
We are left hoping, wanting, wishing. If only Clay had told Hannah how he felt. If only Bryce wasn’t such an asshole (I’m not sorry for “cussing” – It’s the truth). If only the counselor had done his job. If only one person had SEEN Hannah in the hallway that fateful day. If only Hannah had realized how worthwhile her life was, regardless what anyone else had done or thought. If only Hannah had actually told someone how she was feeling before she made the tapes. If only.
A show of this nature invokes the viewer to feel deeply and pursue a self-reflection beyond the norm. Am I Hannah? Am I one of the 13 reasons? Am I someone who doesn’t get why Hannah thought suicide was the answer? Who am I not seeing? What questions am I not asking?
I believe that we can all identify with Hannah’s story in one-way or another. Over the next couple of weeks I am going to re-watch each episode, looking at everything presented with fresh eyes. I plan to write at least one blog per tape, maybe more, tackling the varying subjects presented, and the possible triggers points that ultimately led Hannah to her final decision.
This show is not for everyone. If you have experienced or are currently experiencing trauma, depression, suicidal ideation, than you should probably avoid this show at all costs. It is incredibly realistic and difficult to watch, so please, approach it with care and accountability. I believe the show could have done better in clarifying various aspects, which is why we can’t just hope that people get it. This show is not a license to choose suicide, it is a wake up call to everyone, regardless what part you play in the narrative.
It is important that we talk about hard things and face hard emotions.Though this show depicts Hannah’s final moments and makes it feel like suicide was her only option, that is not the case. It is important that the Hannah Bakers of the world know that though their reasons are valid, their life matters and suicide is not the answer.
I encourage you to join me on this journey as we discuss the much-needed topic of suicide.
– Meg Hope