What Does "13 Reasons Why" Provide for Society?

April 17, 2017
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Over the past week, I had begun to watch a show referred to me by my soon-to-be brother-in-law. It did not strike as an interesting show to watch at first, however, that could not have been more incorrect. The show is based upon a girl, Hannah Baker, and how she shows to the world, or rather to a select few who then decide what to do, why she committed suicide. The show has a dark atmosphere and mystery at every corner. However, what is the true message behind the entirety of the story? This is what should be understood and taken from the story. The purpose or moral of the story of "13 Reasons Why" is to convey the importance of owning up to your mistakes and responsibilities but to also be more aware and kind towards others and their lives. The show begins with the school and students giving grievances for the death of Hannah Baker. The main character of the show is a young boy in his junior year of high school named Clay Jensen. While in mourning of his crush's tragic death, he receives a box full of cassette tapes. Each side of each tape (except for the last, since there are 13 reasons), contains a reason why she chose the path she did. The protagonist then goes on through a whole adventure of listening to the tapes; however, others who have listened to the tapes before him, are refusing to own up for their actions. Many of the other lead characters on the show, who were each a reason on the tapes, denied they were responsible for their actions and became cruel and paranoid. One character relies on drugs and alcohol to carry on with her life as she denies that she was responsible for her ex-best friend's misery. A few of the characters were decent, yet scared people but turned into careless individuals who would stop at nothing to hide the truth from the public. All except for Clay Jensen and one other young man who struggles between the truth and shame. What can be received from all this is there are consequences for all of our actions and the best way to overcome the guilt or pain of these punishments is not to deny them and avoid them, but rather the opposite. Once one takes responsibility for their actions they can truly move on and better impact themselves and those around them. Throughout all of the episodes, this proves to be more clear as the characters struggle and the deterioration of their personalities begins to become evident. The show portrays the truth must and will always come out and if it is kept hidden, it will eat its way out.


From another point of view within the show, as you see through the eyes of Hannah Baker, you see the cruelties and tragedies she faces. In respect to not spoiling a show for those who are reading this and care to watch the show, I shall not list them. However, each one impacts her life and most likely for the worst. It carries on to the point where she ultimately takes her own life. This is not simply limited to the fictional realities of television and Hollywood, but it is a reoccurring event in the real world. In "13 Reasons Why: Beyond the Reasons", an actor, Justin Prentice, brings up well said point. He states, "As a society, we tend to shy away from these hard topics... this is great because it says 'No, this is a problem and it needs to be addressed'" (Beyond). People all around the world choose to take their own lives due to things happening or have happened to them, such as depression, intense traumatic events, chronic bullying, being lonely, and a plethora of other reasons. "13 Reasons Why" reaches out to the audience, especially clarifying it in the end, and lets us know everyone has problems going on in their lives and some even more so than others. One way to save someone from the brink of suicide and/or depression is simply being kind and caring about them. Let them know you care about them. As stated by Selena Gomez, iconic pop singer and an executive producer of this series, said, "After 7 years of holding onto this book, I couldn't of picked a better time for this message to exist" (UWIRE). She, and many others in this world, feel as though bullying and depression are still major factors in children's lives and it should be addressed rather than just believe it has gone away. In the last episode of the series, Clay Jensen said this one sentence that clarifies this point: "It has to get better. The way we treat each other and look out for each other. It has to get better somehow." ("Tape 7").

Life is not easy for a majority of people in this world, and many suffer from bullying and/or depression. This much I know from hearing, seeing, and reading about it as well as from first-hand experience. This Netflix original conveys a hopeful message within its dark and tragic theme in order to enlighten those who need it. To show them there will always be consequences for one's actions and those actions must be owned up to. Furthermore, it tells the audience people in this world are suffering and need hope and comfort to keep them going. This is what "13 Reasons Why" provides to its audience and how it does so, rather than just simply being a way to pass time.

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