The 13 Reasons Why Controversy.

13 Reasons Why (stylized onscreen as Th1rteen R3asons Why) is an American drama-mystery web television series based on the 2007 novel Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher and adapted by Brian Yorkey for Netflix. The series revolves around a high school student, Clay Jensen, and another student, Hannah Baker, who committed suicide after suffering a series of demoralizing circumstances, brought on by select individuals at her school. A box of cassette tapes recorded by Hannah before her suicide details thirteen reasons why she ended her life.

The series has received largely positive reviews from critics and audiences, who have praised its subject matter and casting. It has also attracted controversy over the series’ graphic depiction of issues such as suicide and rape, teen angst along with other mature content.

darkness-visible-in-13-reasons-why

Here’s what some of the top critics have to say-

Time Magazine –

The show depicts Hannah as taunted and isolated, only finally saying in death what she’d been too constrained to say in life. One sees easily how her shift in voice–troubled introvert giving way to avenging angel–worked for so many readers and appealed to show creator Brian Yorkey, a Pulitzer-winning playwright. 13 Reasons also gets brutally right the empty sympathy, tinged with drive-by curiosity, that bystanders to tragedy often demonstrate. Hannah’s classmates loudly mourn her once she’s gone, but their kindness might have saved her. This may leave parents a bit queasy, though. Hannah’s pain, with its themes of slut-shaming, feels contemporary. But the cruelty of her world, populated by clueless adults and nasty kids, can be gratuitous. If this was really Hannah’s life, she may be well rid of it–a chilling thought.

Amid all the rancor, 13 Reasons‘ performances stand out. Minnette manages to beautifully portray a young man’s growing awareness of other people’s humanity. And Kate Walsh and Brian d’Arcy James are heartbreaking as Hannah’s parents coming to terms with how little they knew about their daughter’s inner life. This story is sure to be devoured by teens who respond to its dark themes. But it could use a bit more leavening, acknowledging the reasons why life can be something more than apocalyptic.

Salon.com 

Our latest binge-watching obsession is here, and it’s worth the hype. But beware — it just might wreck you. The true nature of the mystery remains ambiguous through most of “13 Reason Why,” and that carrot-and-stick element of the plot is a prime motivation to gorge on one episode after another. Another essential lure is the tenderness with which the story considers the thirst for love that is part of the human experience, an urge that parched Hannah to death. I wasn’t prepared for how deeply “13 Reasons Why” cuts into the raw epidermis of regret that grief’s rough grasping sloughs off of a person. The plot, the story, the soundtrack are all scalpels surgically slicing any pulsing veins of misery that may be lurking just under the skin, making rivers of remorse gush forth.

Admittedly this is one person’s reaction watching the show under a specific version of numbness, but maybe it conveys how viscerally affecting this show can be. Not many series puncture the veil of emotional separation between viewer and screen with such unexpected precision. Indeed, “13 Reasons Why” is a story about mourning, regret and culpability, but the mystery and performances are the main engine.

CNN Entertainment-

The series oscillates between the recent past and present, gradually puttying in the circumstances surrounding Hannah who narrates her tragic tale. Each hour of this 13-hr long series, advances the ball forward gradually, highlighting the contributory role of a different peer in Hannah’s orbit.

The producers have done an exceptional job casting the teen roles. Despite its focus on the kids, though, the show doesn’t completely reduce the parents to a Charlie Brown cartoon. Kate Walsh plays Hannah’s desperate mother, while Steven Weber is the school principal, clearly concerned about liability issues regarding the tragedy that occurred on his watch. It feels like an ideal show — tailored to a hard-to-reach demographic, offering the kind of mystery that’s meant to be binged. The grim details are arguably necessary to tell Hannah’s story without romanticizing it — always a danger when dealing with teen suicide — and help viewers understand why she felt so hopeless.
In a sense, “13 Reasons Why” turns its audience into voyeuristic bystanders as well. Yet while Hannah’s fate isn’t pleasant, as presented in this enticing, slickly constructed package, it’s hard to look away.

Guardian-

There’s a rich seam of action to be found in the melodrama of school corridors, and Netflix’s latest, 13 Reasons Why, attempts to portray almost every aspect of it. This unflinching teen mystery is like Lord of the Flies meets Heathers, and it may have achieved the impossible – being the first Netflix series too bleak to binge.
It is unfortunate that a show so concerned with the catastrophic effects of misogyny doesn’t manage to avoid some pitfalls of its own. The decision to depict rape graphically, and not briefly, either, was obviously taken with the intention of insisting we witness its brutality; personally, I found it to tip towards the gratuitous. Likewise a storyline that suggests the love of a sweet boy might have sorted all this out added to an uneasy feeling that stayed with me – that this was more about boys than girls, even though the ruined life of a girl is at its centre. I wonder about its handling of suicide, which again is depicted graphically; one of the adult characters says there’s never really any way of knowing why Hannah did what she did, and I found myself on his side in that, even though I don’t think that is what we’re being led to feel.
It’s too tied up in conveying the message that terrible behaviour can have horrible consequences to deal in any subtleties or shades of feeling. It’s largely one-note – and that note is horrifying. “It has to get better,” implores one student towards the end, but given its fairly open ending, an apparent season two setup, it does not seem as if there’s much chance of that happening.

My Opinion-

I completed watching this series in two seatings. Not because I didn’t have the time, but because it was too hard to watch Hannah go after how slowly and slowly she was thrown off the emotional cliff by the people in her life. It would be an understatement to say 13 Reasons Why has caused controversy.

I am not denying there is evidence around suicide contagion, however, the idea that there should be absolutely no discussion or exploration of suicide in media seems slightly absurd and may in itself be harmful.

Turning suicide into a “taboo” subject creates a stigma around suicide that has been around for far too long. I feel this stigma is the underlying current of the hysteria that has been building up since the show’s release. A series about suicide for a younger audience is like planting a bomb for protective parents. Adults, it’s time to stop sweeping suicide under the rug. We have the highest teen suicide rate in the developed world.

One intriguing thing I realized about this show is that it isn’t generation specific. While teens are at the center of this, and their emotions and actions are certainly age-appropriate but not specifically targeted to one generation alone, and this makes for a story about how unfamiliar sensations can be, and are, experienced at every age.

While part of the ending is known right from the start, the journey to get there is well worth the time it takes. There is an appropriate amount of twists and turns and most of them are realistic. While Hannah and Clay are the central characters, there are many collateral storylines that branch out, and every one of those involved has a personal story that’s highlighted via Hannah’s narrative. Now, that surely is interesting.

The best reason to watch 13 Reasons Why is that it’s worth your time.

 

13-reasons-why-featurette-debuts-posters-05-0

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s