About five years back, long before I began this blog, I decided I wanted to follow my childhood dream and start writing again. My passion, as you all hopefully know by now, has always been the awareness of Mental Health.
These sorts of plans would crop up with my Care Coordinator on a weekly basis and one day we stumbled onto the topic of what style samples I had started procuring. 13 Reasons Why, the Young Adult Novel by Jay Asher, just so happened to be at the top of my list after I’d accidentally come across it whilst innocently checking out that my own idea hadn’t already been written before. (Great minds and all that jazz).
My Care Coordinator at the time gently warned me from downloading the Kindle edition. “I’m not too sure it represents suicide in a positive way,” he seemed to squirm.
Until last year, when I heard Netflix had transformed the book into what has evidently turned out to be a smash, cult hit, I never thought about it again, other than deleting it from my ‘To Read’ list.
I’ve read, heard and spoke to people who have offered both positive and negative insight. The premise of 13 Reasons Why has totally wound me up the wrong way on occasion but I can’t lie, it’s definitely got people talking; so today, my first day with a Wi-Fi connection and A Netflix account in almost two years, I took the plunge and watched the first episode; below is my review of Season 1, Episode 1.
Let’s start with the positives!
I’m not going to sit here, all guns blazing, saying that the first episode was vomit inducing, maggot filled garbage. I genuinely think 13RW has some good context dotted in there – in the same way we sometimes throw healthy, edible dinner waste in the trash. Before fans of the series ironically hunt me down and force me to enjoy their show previous to them lynching me, let’s take a look at why I enjoyed it.
- #neverforget – You might have missed it if you were still in the kitchen, grabbing your popcorn, right at the beginning. Two girls take a selfie in front of Hannah’s memorial locker and walk off saying “Hashtag, never forget.” – Yup! The obligatory bandwagon jumpers who didn’t give a toss when she was alive but like to feel involved in the gossip during and after the catastrophe? I can guarantee this happens IRL, very accurate!
- Secrecy – I’m well, well out of my teenage years these days (even though I still think I’m 16) but I actually think it’s pretty realistic that the High School peers wouldn’t necessarily share what they knew with adults – at least at this point. Remembering my view of the world at that age, I was still in the mindset that adults had never been my age.
- Boyfriend Stealing – I loved loved loved!!! that Hannah told Kat she was into Justin before making her move. I’m being a total bitch by bringing this up in my list of positives but I think it would be an immense step forward for all ages in this world if friends told each other when they were thinking about getting it on with each others ex’s. I definitely know a few gals who could have taken a leaf out of Hannah’s book here. (Ahem!)
- Send Nudes – What I guess was supposed to be a euthanism for sending nudes, was done pretty well. In absolute diabolical honesty, last Wednesday a guy in the pub told me “I’ve got a picture of your tits on my phone.” As sensitive as I am, I know I have a cracking pair so it didn’t bother me but men really underestimate the impact this can have on a girl. 13RW highlighted the way it can make some people feel with effect. Well done.
- Heya NorCal – I suppose I’m scraping the barrel with my final positive because it’s something that’s more personal to me than what belongs in a review but the Setting (or at least film location) is verrrry close to my heart. I had to pause as soon as I saw Tony’s house. I know that place! Okay, not the exact house but I definitely knew those shots of the bridges just outside Vallejo. At one point in my life, it was a bridge I was crossing a dozen times of year. The park scene was also a heart tugger for me. At Hannah’s age I was literally doing the exact same thing, in the middle of the night, in an almost identical park, around a hour up the road – except my stories of summer ’07 ended in a more pleasant way. *sniffles*
So, moving on, I could’ve made a list as long as the Carquinez Bridge about the things I personally didn’t like going off in S1, E1, Tape 1, Side A, but this here is the internet! and every little thing you find on this good ol’ world wide web is going to offend at least one person to some extent, so I’m leaving the majority of that list out and instead raising the points that I personally find damaging in respect to Mental Health Awareness.
Here we go!
- The Whole Entire Idea – I’m gunna get this all out in straight bullet points, because wow… Guilt tripping those left behind is not cool and I’ve written some suicide notes in my time. I’ve also spent a lot of time with ‘folk like me‘ in hospitals, done a load of research into the topic for my novel and I promise you, I have never heard of anyone begin their last message to the world with ‘I’m doing this because of you.’ Most start with ‘sorry‘. You see, in my experience, people don’t kill themselves because they’ve been through hard circumstances at the hands of someone else, (get revenge, go slash their tyres, set their house on fire*** ), people want to kill themselves because said circumstances bestowed on them, make them feel they are not worthy of life, they don’t deserve it and the world would be better off without them. Hannah has an extremely swollen ego.
- Controlling people from beyond the grave in that threatening tone if they don’t do as she says? “And I’ll never know… or will I?” Hannah is a sociopath – which makes the series interesting with a little more context but the fans feeling sorry for this girl? (okay, yes I feel sorry for her but for completely different reasons to her 13) She isn’t just a sad, little, depressed girl, no matter how the rest of the series pans out. She is clearly suffering from delusions, especially those of grandeur, compulsions, impulsive behaviours, probably psychosis too. To carry something out like this is not a true representation of how any ‘ordinarily’ depressed and suicidal person would act. Talking to anyone would not have helped Hannah. She needed real psych meds, DBT, psychotherapy and probably a short spell in hospital. Hannah = true crazy. (I’m allowed to say that).
- If you want to put a rumour right, write an angsty Facebook post, start a blog – Hell! Hannah could’ve even ask me for a guest post!
- Having an alive ‘advocate’ in Tony is weird… I’ll have to wait to see how the series pans out to comment further on that one though.
***Disclaimer*** Don’t slash tyres or set people’s houses on fire.
Well, believe it or not, I’m ready for Episode 2.
As much as I’ve just ranted about how the concept of 13 Reasons Why has made me a little angry and how I think Hannah is a complete Sociopath, I think I’ve developed a kind of affinity with her. She might have succeeded in areas where I, myself have failed,
I might be getting a completely different vibe from the show than what has been intended (scrap that, I know I’m getting a different vibe), she had her tapes and I’ve got this blog. Present tense and Past tense but I’m curious to how this is all going to pan out.
So far, I feel like Hannah is wanting to teach people lessons which come naturally with experience, growth and maturity – or more so, that Jay Asher hypothesised he could teach teenagers a life lesson through his novel so they’d think twice before being mean? (Or just acting like regular teenagers do – believe me, times change. I had a baby with a guy who bullied me in High School)
The problem arises when the intended audiences are not mature enough to realise, this is not real life, things will never end up this way if you kill yourself and leave behind hidden messages. When you’re dead, you’ll have no idea whether that message got across, all you’d have in your dying seconds is HOPE that it would. Suicidal people don’t hope.
Treat it like the bible or whichever other religious text you prefer, take it as a metaphor and cultivate interpretation.
Entire series review coming soon!!!!!!!!!!!