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Thirteen Reasons to not watch

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Laney Hoggatt, Editor

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On May 18, the second season of Thirteen Reasons Why came out. I will not be watching because I strongly believe it is completely unnecessary; there is nothing left for the show to say. I liked the book when I read it in seventh grade; however, I was extremely disappointed by the Netflix series. I understand what the show was trying to do, but it was poorly portrayed. Here are thirteen reasons to not watch the second season:

1. The show romanticizes suicide.

Now, this was controversial in the show’s first season, so it can only be assumed it will be the same in its second. The show is about a girl who dies by suicide then leaves tapes to explain why she ended her life. For months after the release of the first season, people had an ongoing joke of telling people, “I will put you on my tape.” It made suicide seem like the best option when faced with bullies because you can just leave tapes and they will be haunted by your messages. The show never portrayed Hannah looking to other options except for her aborted attempt to talk to her high school counselor. They portrayed the counselors as completely unhelpful. I for one know of some counselors that have saved and changed people’s lives. The show depicts Hanna’s suicide as a solution rather than a horrible consequence of a failure to communicate successfully.

2. It makes it seem okay to blame others for your struggles.

I understand that the show’s intent was to warn people that their actions can affect others; unfortunately, the show made it seem like it was completely their fault. Yes, people are horrible and mean, but the show basically teaches its viewers that it is okay to push off the responsibility for all our decisions. You can see this when Clay’s tape is played. Clay was “the only person” who was nice to her and he was literally in love with her. She explained the reason he was on the tapes was that he “made her think everything would be okay.” The idea is that it is somehow partially his fault that she killed herself because he was too nice. She made bad choices and, ultimately, made the decision to end her life.

3. The show is unnecessarily violent.

I am aware that the show was trying to represent the intensity of its events, but it was taken too far. For example, the rape scenes could have been implied rather than portrayed the way they were. In the show, there are two rape scenes. Rape in itself is an intense subject. Most shows, when they do a rape scene, make it short and rely on implying it is going to happen. However, Thirteen Reasons Why did not take that approach. It did not show everything, but it showed enough and for too long until I had to stop watching because it scared me. Yes, it got the reaction its creators wanted, but it went too far. I and the rest of the viewers could have easily gotten the point and understood the intensity of rape without having the scenes go as far as they did.

Also, the suicide scene: She killed herself by cutting her wrists in a bathtub. Hannah drew a bath, got some razors, and climbed into the tub, and and the viewers saw her bring the razor to the wrist. The scene could have ended there or just shown her face, but it didn’t. The show continued the scene, and the camera focused on her wrists so that the viewers had to watch her cut her wrists for a solid 30 seconds. By this point, you would think the viewers would have gotten the point, but it went further. The viewer then had to watch her bleed out and die. This, in my opinion, is just too extreme and too violent because the viewers would have gotten the point with watching her bring the razors to her wrists. If they wanted to keep the intensity, they could have moved the camera to show her face and its reactions as she cuts her wrists. The scene was just too long and unneeded.

4. Suicide is completely misrepresented.

Suicide is a serious issue. The show tried to create awareness, but it portrayed it all wrong. The show seemed to think that the only reason a person would kill themselves is because of bullying and that it is the first option people pursue. This is completely wrong. It never addressed how mental health plays into it, and it promoted the false idea that people do not put much thought into taking their life. This is completely untrue, and, for a show that claims to bring awareness to suicide, it fails to bring accurate awareness. Yes, bullying is a factor, but it is definitely not the primary cause of suicide. The more embarrassing part is that the show’s creators claimed to have gone to several professionals because they wanted to “properly represent” suicide. So did they lie about going to professionals, or did they leave in false information because they wanted a more dramatic storyline?

5. The show is triggering for victims of bullying, sexual assault, rape, mental health issues, and suicide survivors.

As I mentioned before, the show is extremely intense and violent. It is so extreme that it requires a warning before the most intense episodes. Additionally, I take issue with the presence of a warning on just a few episodes. It needs to be on the entire series. Because of the lack of warnings, this show is extremely dangerous for survivors of bullying, sexual assault, rape, mental health issues, and suicide attempts. Several members of the cast and crew said in interviews that the show may be too triggering for victims and that those individuals should not watch the show. Why would they make a show that is supposed to represent these victims and their stories if they trigger the victims? Also, if it is so triggering then there should be a warning to the viewers every episode rather than only the ones the show deems triggering.

6. The show provides no solutions to those who are thinking of taking their lives.

The show addresses several issues like bullying, sexual assault, and suicide. However, they do not provide options for those who felt like Hannah did. They only provide a phone line to call for viewers to call for themselves or on behalf of someone they know (the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255). Other than that they offer no solutions to those in need. According to helpguide.com, some advice to those who feel suicidal is to confide in someone, remember that whatever might be causing these feelings (like bullying) can be tempory, and to remember that people do get through these feelings. There also some who face mental health issues that can be helped through professional help. The show does not show Hannah doing any of this which can be toxic to viewers who also feel like Hannah because it makes it seem like suicide is the only option when it is not.

7. The show promotes isolation.

Like I mentioned earlier, Hannah never confided in anyone except her high school counselor. She never confided in Clay, and the two were very close. She never said anything to her parents. She isolated herself which is extremely dangerous for people who are depressed or are thinking about dying by suicide. Whether or not it intended to, the show promotes isolation. Hannah’s horrible experience with her high school counselor makes it seem like confiding in someone is not worthwhile, when it is one of the most important steps in addressing depression and suicidal thoughts. Viewers need to know that it is okay to go to somebody and confide in them. By promoting isolation, the show puts viewers at higher risks of trying something because they are bottling up their emotions. It furthers the societal stigma surrounding mental health and emotional openness.

8. Hannah is never given a backstory.

The only way the viewer learn about Hannah is through her death. She is only seen alive in flashbacks that teach the viewers more about the other characters. Also, as I have said several times, the show never shows how depression and mental health can lead to suicide. With no backstory, the viewers never know if her bullying experiences can lead to depression and that for some depression can be genetic. Since we know nothing about her or her family it is impossible to see that her possible depression could have come from another family member or members. According to depressiongenetics.stanford.edu, 50 percent of depression is genetic. The show never shows that. Also, we know nothing about Hannah’s relationship with her parents other than that they care about her but do not really find to sit and talk with her. I just think that since she is the protagonist, the show should have given her a better character development.

9. It completely misrepresents high school.

Almost all the characters are the traditional stereotype. You have the smart kids, the popular kids, the sports kids, the artsy kid, the nice kid, and so on. Most high school shows and movies have those characters, but this show overdoes it. It furthers its misrepresentation of suicide by failing to accurately depict the setting around it. The show makes it seem like people actually care about stereotypical drama. As a junior in high school, I can tell you that nobody cares who does what or with whom. Everyone is too busy worrying about themselves or their grades. The show portrays that rumors last forever. That is not true. In my three years of high school, there have been rumors big and small, but they all faded away in a few days. Again, I mean this in the nicest way, but nobody cares. However, the show depicted Hannah always facing never-ending rumors and people staring at her. Rumors and grudges do not present themselves in that way for long, at least not in my high school experience.

10. There is no reason for a second season.

The show has no reason to keep going. Hannah is dead. The show has nothing else to say. Also, it did not end on a cliffhanger, so there were no questions to be answered.

11. The true reason they are making a second season is that they made so much money from the first.

Hollywood has a history of making unnecessary sequels, prequels, or reboots because the originals were profitable. Also, is it supposed to be a coincidence that Selena Gomez, a producer, dropped some music before the show came out? I think not.

12. Based on the trailer, the second season seems dramatic and pointless to the story.

So I decided since I’m writing about the second season I should at least watch the trailer. I definitely regretted that choice, but there were a few clips that really annoyed me. The first thing about the second season is that Bryce, the guy who raped Hannah and Jessica, goes on trial. Do not get me wrong — I am a strong advocate for justice for rape victims. There are two approaches the show can take: a realistic depiction or a TV ending. The realistic approach would be either no sentence or a small sentence for Bryce. That’s our reality in America today. The TV show ending would be that he goes to jail forever and everyone lives happily ever after. Either approach is going to annoy the fans, so I really do not see the point in it happening.

Another thing in the trailer is a clip with Clay with a gun. He says, “I need to take things into my own hands.” I do not know what will happen, but it seems to me like he might shoot someone. There also is a rumor that a character brings a gun to school. Like they have to be joking. Are they really going to capitalize off the horrible school shootings that have been happening? That is awful because, for several students across the U.S., those school shootings are no longer a thing that they see on TV shows. It is their lives. They have watched their friends die or get injured. Then you have those, like me, who luckily have not had to experience that but still worry that it can happen at their school. I honestly believe the show is trying to capitalize on the controversy in a way that takes advantage of a major issue. It is truly disgusting that the show included that because they want more viewers.

13. The show has no lasting impact on suicide awareness.

The show states that its intent is to raise awareness for suicide and bullying, but the awareness only lasts while the show’s hype is present. Once all the hype dies down, all the “awareness” goes away. It also does not provide solutions other than a phone line to call for viewers to call for themselves or on behalf of someone they know (the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255) even though the show depicts reaching out to someone as an ineffective means of addressing mental health issues. There are no other solutions offered by the show.

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About the Writer
Laney Hoggatt, Co Editor-in-Chief
I am a senior. This is my third year reporting and second year being an editor. I typically write features articles. I am the choir president and am in A Capella choir and Encore choir. In my free time, I enjoy writing, singing, and binge-watching t.v shows and movies. I spend most of my time...
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