Reviews of Movies, TV shows & metro Detroit Restaurants

Short movie & TV show reviews and metro Detroit restaurant reviews

Saturday, May 13, 2017

TV Show Review: 13 Reasons Why

I wasn't sure if I should write a review for the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why (which is based on a novel by Jay Asher) because it has gotten so much attention recently due to its controversial subjects of teen suicide, bullying (both cyber/social media and direct), sexual assault, substance abuse, etc. But it has stirred up a lot of thoughts and emotions within me as well as prompted conversations with others, so I decided to write about some of that. This won't be a traditional review and I hope I don't ramble on or babble too much. And please remember that these are my opinions which you may or may not agree with.

13 Reasons Why has been criticized for glorifying & glamorizing teen suicide. While I was watching the, I personally did not feel as if this was the case because it was so tragic & heartbreaking. After finishing the series and then reading more opinions & analysis, I can see how it can be thought as such, I'm just not sure I agree with that. I am also fully aware that I may have a different perspective because I am not a parent, an educator, or a psychologist. I will say this though: Anyone (a teen, an adult, an adolescent...ANYONE) contemplating suicide should NOT feel as if that is their only option and they should seek out help immediately as there are many, many ways to get help. I also think that anyone who SEES depression in another should do their best to reach out to that person and/or seek help for them. I know all of this is easier said than done, but we all owe it to the ones we love to look for signs.

I found 13 Reasons Why to be a powerful, tragic, heartbreaking, disturbing portrayal of one young girl's (Hannah Baker, played by Katherine Langford) high school experiences & struggles and I thought the show did an excellent job of portraying this. It wasn't just Hannah's struggles which are portrayed as a host of other students struggle as well, most notably the other lead character Clay Jensen (played by Dylan Minnette), cheerleader Jessica Davis (played by Alisha Boe), and yearbook photographer Tyler Down (played by Devin Druid). To me, those characters had the most to deal with (other than Hannah).

As a quick synopsis, 13 Reasons Why follows Clay as he returns home from school one day to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers a group of cassette tapes recorded by his former classmate & coworker Hannah who committed suicide two weeks earlier. On these 13 tapes, Hannah unfolds an emotional audio diary, detailing the 13 reasons why she decided to end her life. Each episode is dedicated to one of the tapes and does so in two different timeframes, Clay's current perspective & Hannah's past perspective. This premise makes it very "binge-worthy" as I watched all 13 episodes in the course of six days. The performances by all of the young actors are great as they do a good job of expressing the emotions that these characters all experience.

I think this would be a good show for parents to watch together with their teenagers. Again, I am NOT a parent, but I think this could be a device to have an open conversation about the themes which are shown in this show. But I also think that depressed or troubled teenagers should steer clear of this show.

On a very personal note, I found myself remembering my high school years of 30ish years ago (yikes!). I honestly cannot comprehend what high school must be like nowadays. Times were significantly different in the 80s as there was no social media, cell phones, cyber bullying, etc. and I went to a very small school. But there certainly was bullying. Was I ever bullied? No (older brothers don't count!). Did I ever bully anyone? To some extent, I did. This show made me ashamed for those whom I did pick on. By no means was I a major bully, but I definitely picked on other kids for various reasons. Once I got older though, I did my best to not participate in such things, but I wasn't a saint.

This series brought up a lot of emotions within me and I think that's what good TV shows should do, stir up emotions that we may not otherwise feel organically...8.5/10 stars.

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