Before I even started watching ’13 Reasons Why’, I heard a great deal about it, mostly from the internet. Firstly, it was widely advertised on Youtube and that recording part where Hannah Baker, the main lead, said “and you’re one of the reasons why (I died)”? It really caught my attention and piqued my interest in the show, causing me to remind myself to watch it after I was done with exams. However, I saw many articles criticising the show for being a possible trigger to many who have gone through (or are still going through) what Hannah Baker in the show experienced.
Definitely, the general skewed belief that the show was very provoking made me biased about my feelings for this series. Furthermore, at the start, the things that Hannah experienced in school seemed like the kind of things that always happens to kids in high school. After all, it’s that “high school” phase where many people were either being bitchy or being an asshole. Its the young representation of an environment plagued by more bad than good. Hence, her relationship with Justin, Jessica and Alex could be seen as “friendship/reputation problems”, which although can be serious, wasn’t depicted as super serious or anything.
Yet as the show went on, I finally understood. I understood better why suicides take place. Why people can get to a point so low that they are willing to take away their lives. For Hannah, it was the accumulation of everything. Like one huge stone thrown towards her one by one until what’s left was a broken and bruised heart in dire need of help. And which was not given any help at all. A heart that weak? Yeah, suicide. The show cleverly really brought out the emotions that Hannah felt through a portal of life (because if they really only showed the tapes, and people knew that Hannah was dead already, would they be as engaged with the show?): Clay Jensen. The perfect example of “I should have but I didn’t”.
Everyone, at some point of time in life, can relate to Clay Jensen. “If only I knew earlier”, “I would have done something”, “Should have”. He encapsulates the emotion of regret so poignantly that throughout the entire show, it was easy for me to put myself in his footsteps because everyday, it is indeed true that we have the possibility of making a mistake that on hindsight pushes us to think about the “should have beens”, which is what we feel a lot especially when we reach Hannah’s tape about Clay. That includes the occasional mentioning of “If only something were different along the way”, meaning among the 13 of them, if someone had done something differently, Hannah Baker wouldn’t have died. Which once again brings us back to why this show was able to connect so well with me: their portrayal of the “should have been” notion. That really made the series very fulfiling to watch, especially towards the end.
The best part was how the series didn’t give us the ending full on, but rather, presented us with events which allowed us to infer a relatively objective ending, leaving us with satisfaction but curiosity mixed with a little bit of wonder (because we are all just that imaginative, right?).
However, I must admit that certain scenes were indeed -like the articles said-, “triggering”. I found that Hannah’s rape scene was the hardest to watch, because it exposed such vulnerability and should real-life victims witness the scene, the emotions that they may have tried to compress could burst out like waves. And they may drown in those waves. I remember reading that the scene was depicted in a graphic way because the producers/directors/selena gomez felt that people should not try to avoid the rape issue but rather, come to terms with it full frontal. I am not sure whether I would agree with that but generally, I can see why the two varying beliefs believe what they do, which is why I am probably going to sit on the fence for this one.
Anyway, this series has come to an end and although I really felt for Hannah Baker and Clay Jensen, it’s time to move on. And maybe, if I were you, I’d take some of those lessons and apply them to real life. After all, you”ll never know if you will be the next Clay Jensen, right?