Trauma. It’s the thing no one wants to talk about, yet Netflix’s latest drama series “13 Reasons Why” brings the discourse right to the forefront of pop culture (finally).
I read the book by Jay Asher of the same title probably as a 9- or 10-year-old when it first came out. I remember, at one point, it was my favorite book. It tells the gripping tale of Hannah Baker’s life of struggles and mistreatment, and others accountability for her death all contribute to the attraction of the emotion-filled novel. The Netflix adaptation is a powerful visual and emotional experience that I can hardly do justice with mere words on a page.
I binge-watched the series in a two-day span and, needless to say, its effect was powerful enough for me to immediately jump to my laptop to pound on my keyboard to write about it as soon as I finished.
The show started off pretty slow and uninteresting for me. My first impressions were that it was entirely too cheesy with its corny dialogue and unrealistic depiction of most high schools. Yet, as the episodes progressed, I found the story to be more and more relatable – and, thus, more real.
“13 Reasons Why” differs from the original book by making up for what it lacks. The depth of the characters in the television show, for one, is much more intense. Of course, Netflix had to fit the series into 13 episodes, or else it really couldn’t keep the original title. In addition, the show ties in all of the technological anxieties millennials face, which also encompasses the realities of cyberbullying and its lethal effects.
What really struck me in this show was the rawness of emotion and experience – the producers take you through a truly auditory and visual journey to guide you in discovering things within yourself that you may have neglected. For me, I could relate to the character of Hannah Baker all too well. In each character and in each reason for her death, the viewer could also connect to the “little things” we constantly overlook in society – gossip, seemingly “harmless” insults, victim-blaming – which could possibly lead to a person reaching their emotional limit and taking their own life.
I view this show as a form of promoting social awareness – not only about bullying, all forms of assault and suicide, but also basic human compassion and how it can positively impact those around you. The effect this television show has on its viewers is truly life-changing. It will change the way you approach and treat others, and hopefully it will change how and whether you judge others based on assumptions.
Don’t believe me? Watch – or listen – to the 13 tapes Hannah Baker left behind, to see if you don’t ‘X’ out of your Netflix window with a new perspective on life.