So I finished 13 Reasons Why. Actually finished last week but you know, depressive episode and all made me not want to talk about it so much. But I’m good for it now. Major spoilers alert so, yeah.
I think it’s very well done. I like how realistic the dialogue feels, and I love all the interactions between all the kids involved. Yes, objectively what they do to each other is pretty horrifying. But it doesn’t make any less real or interesting. I personally have known people like Courtney, not the lesbian part (they could be; I mean I would never know would I?), but the attitude, her posse, the way she thinks righteously that it’ll harm her family, etc. Yes, I totally see that she is using it as a flimsy excuse, but I can also see her reasoning and how she tried to “logic” and convince herself of it . I also know people like Marcus. I went to a magnet school with no sports team, so all the jock vs nerd stuff didn’t really apply. But the overachievers, the really weird people (like Tyler and Alex and Clay), the way administrators handle things – too familiar. Bullying is part of every school. I’m sure most school’s adults handle it horrifically.
It’s quite interesting that, at least the way the show was set up, everything is given more or less equal weight. To me that’s absurd. Someone publishing a poem or told people to stop giving a specific someone compliments does not in any way equal repeated rape. But to a teenager I think it might not be so clear cut. The tape is every little thing that added up that broke Hannah completely. By the time Bryce raped her she was already beyond spent. All those things she had experienced had “prepped” her, essentially, so she’d think, well, of course that’s the logical ending to my story. I’m a slut so yeah of course someone who already committed rape would rape me, too. So while I kind of feel that a few of the kids weren’t that bad – Zach, for example, and Alex, really – they all piled on to Hannah’s already fragile psyche and chipped it away. Bryce’s action pushed her over the edge, but the rest of them had slowly pushed her until she was standing right by the edge in the first place.
On the other hand, I do like that even the out-and-out “bad” people are portrayed as humans. (Except for Bryce. He feels like one of those people you all knew was “bad” but no one did – or could do – anything about it.) Justin did some seriously shitty things BUT he got abused at home a lot, so we see how messed up he really is and is not just a completely self-serving righteous asshole. (That would be Ryan and Courtney, I feel like. Seriously. What the fuck?) I like how little they actually show us about Alex or his home life but you can tell he’s deteriorating rapidly, although the last bit where he shot himself still took me by surprise. They showed so many people with access to guns throughout the last two episodes that I actually forgot that Alex would of course have access too. (Probably the point.) He also was the only other person actively trying to do the right thing after his fuck-ups. So it’s, well, not ironic, really, but it fits that he would also be on the suicide list.
I commend wholeheartedly how they handled showing Hannah’s actual suicide. It was not glamorized, it was not gratuitous, it looked super painful and horrible, just like it probably is in real life when you slit your wrists in the bathtub. I Googled how long it would take (yeah now Google is showing me ads to suicide prevention hotlines. I’m not suicidal I swear I just want to do some research!) and it said something like 2 hours. I mostly wanted to know if it’s possible to do it as a teenager living with your very involved parents. If it takes 2 hours then, yeah, probably. (Like, if you take sleeping pills chances are someone’ll definitely find you before you die.) So watching that scene was a pretty traumatizing. And what’s equally traumatizing is when her parents found her. I almost covered my eyes because I didn’t want to see the pain on those people’s faces when they realize what had happened. The last time I was this traumatized from a movie was Requiem for a Dream and…yeah…we’re not going to talk about that one.
The only thing I am baffled about this show is why the hell is there going to be a second season? Is it just milking the franchise or something? I don’t understand. The format of the series is perfectly set up to END. 13 tapes, 13 episodes, 13 reasons why Hannah killed herself up until her death. OK, MAYBE it could use one more episode to wrap up the court proceedings and stuff, because we saw hints of people owning up to their mistakes and such in the last episode. But definitely not enough for another whole season (of another 13 episodes, I assume?) unless someone ELSE (Alex?) made another series of tapes or something. Then it’s just gimmicky, and I think making this series gimmicky is a horrible way to treat how wonderful and poignant the first season had turned out to be. I’m not sure I want to watch the second season when it’s released. A story has wrapped up perfectly, stop making it longer than it should be for some arbitrary franchise reasons. Sometimes things should just end.