13 Reasons Why – Review (Netflix Adaptation)

I had been anticipating the release of 13 Reasons Why, that was adapted from the book written by Jay Asher. I have not read the book so I can’t speak to how true or untrue the series is to the original story, however, the series does have merits: High production values, excellent casting and acting, topnotch writing.

Although I didn’t intend to binge watch all 13 episodes, I did find the story compelling enough that I simply didn’t want to wait to see what happened next.

Themes: Depression, Suicide, Bullying

Premise: Before a teenage girl commits suicide, she records 13 tapes that detail the 13 reasons why she killed herself and leaves them with a friend for specific distribution.

Story

Hannah Baker is an outspoken, creative teenager whose family has moved to a small town for a fresh start. She’s pretty, funny, smart, and uses humor and wit to cover her many insecurities. But we see she is somewhat damaged already in her young life.

She befriends Clay Jensen, a co-worker at the local movie theater, and they form an interesting alliance. They both dance around their true feelings for one another and never acknowledge those feelings out loud to each other. Which may be the true tragedy of the story.

The story alternates between Hannah’s narration of her tapes and the live action (both past and present) of what’s happening and what happened.

The story is largely told from Clay’s point of view, how he reacts to Hannah’s death, and how his reactions escalate as he listens to each of the 13 tapes – growing increasingly angry and anxious as he anticipates what she will say about him on ‘his tape.’ The 13 reasons are actually fellow students with whom Hannah had interacted with disastrous results. In each case, Hannah went into each relationship with the hope of friendship, love, and comradery, and in each case she is betrayed. Severely.

As Clay listens to the tapes he becomes more outraged, sorrowful, and determined to make the offenders take responsibility for what they did to Hannah. And no matter how much they try to stop, intimidate, or scare Clay, he is relentless in his pursuit of the truth in getting justice for Hannah.

Conclusion

This story is heartbreaking and illuminating about the subject of teen suicide, and how bullying can lead to the deterioration of a person’s spirit. It also accurately depicts the utter nightmare that is high school. And even though it’s been lifetimes since I was in high school, the story churned up memories of my own miserable experiences as an unpopular student in high school. As though it were only yesterday when I was finally freed from that prison. As well as memories of a friend who committed suicide and the fallout that followed. It touched me deeply and I suspect it will touch you if you are brave enough to watch it.

For as damn good as this series is, it is also extremely difficult to watch. It will break your heart, remind you of your own struggles with bullies, feelings of unworthiness, insecurities, and of loved ones you may have lost through suicide. It may depress you, as it did me. It will certainly make you think and ponder about how you treat others. And examine any dalliance you’ve had with mob rule or group think.

I highly recommend this series with the caveat that it contains countless emotional triggers that may be difficult for some.

 

 

 

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Some People Will Beat You Down – A Word About Bullies

bullies

Despite all my years on this planet I am still shocked by how cruel some people can be. I don’t know why but I keep thinking that somehow mankind will snap out of it and people will start being kinder to each other. I’m still waiting for that to happen.

Actually, that’s not fair. Most people are really okay. Pretty good eggs, as they say. But there are some…

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by someone to do a writing project for them. We discussed the project and what he wanted done and I gave him my best advice. As it turned out, I didn’t feel he really needed to change what he had and told him so. He thanked me for my time and that was that. A couple of hours later he contacted me again and said he wanted me to re-do one aspect of the project. I agreed and gave him a quote. Then he wanted to haggle the price. I told him I didn’t haggle. Then he said okay. Then he asked if I paid the PayPal fees. At that point I should’ve just passed and suggested he go elsewhere. But I was in the midst of three other projects and knew he’d keep bugging me, so I went ahead with it.

Suffice to say that afterward we had several more email exchanges, during which he insulted me, my abilities and my worth. In all, I probably devoted about eight hours to this person, all for the incredibly high price of $50. So. Not. Worth. It.

It upset me, the things he said. The insults. But after my bruised feelings healed I realized he’d done me a favor. Because he reminded me of something that I knew but ignored.

People will beat you down. Some people will just beat you down for sport. It is in fact their purpose in life. They thrive on it. They like to make others unhappy. To feel small and insignificant. I don’t know why this is true. Did God make them differently? Perhaps. But it’s actually okay not to know why, as long as you know that they do.

They come in all shapes and sizes – don’t let the packaging fool you

I think most of us think of bullies as big, bad-breathed, butt-crack showing cretins who have “I am an asshole” tattooed on their foreheads. In fact they don’t. Often they come in very pretty or handsome packages. Sometimes they are young, sometimes old. They could be your neighbor or your Aunt Tillie. They can be a teacher, a parent, a sibling or the guy next to you with road rage. In short, they can be anybody. So you can’t know them by the way they look but you can by the way they act, for example a bully will try to convince you that:

  • Everything they do is important
  • Everything you do is meaningless
  • Their feelings matters
  • Your feelings don’t matter and you’re just being a drama queen
  • You should keep your word
  • They aren’t required to keep their promises
  • You made them feel this way, so what they do to you is your own fault

In short, a bully will do anything in their power to make you feel small, worthless, stupid, ugly, repulsive, unlovable, unlikable and useless.

Kick them to the curb

Bullies, unfortunately – at least in my experience – cannot or will not reform. If they get called on something, they may recant but it is insincere. Don’t believe them. They will only strive to get back in your good graces so that they can hammer you again. They will cry, threaten to harm themselves, even claim to have gotten religion. Don’t believe them. They only thing they want to get is you. Don’t make it possible for them to do so. Just kick them to the curb and move on. Believe me, if you do, you’ll feel much better.

Writer Chick
Copyright 2015