“13 Reasons Why” captures teens attention


"13 Reasons Why" by Jay Asher received a Netflix adaptation and has gained attention for it's portrayal of issues such as suicide and sexual assault.

Gauri Mangala, Managing Editor

After what seemed to be an eternity of minute-long teasers, the long awaited Netflix drama “13 Reasons Why,” adapted from the Jay Asher mystery novel of the same name, was released in March of 2017.  The drama was initially met with immense binge-watching, praise and conversation. However, soon enough critics of the show’s dark and graphic depictions of disturbing topics like sexual assault, rape, and suicide came through the woodwork. Critics of the show have argued that the prefaced warnings at the beginning of some of the more troubling episodes are simply not enough. Others feel as though the disturbing images of the rape and suicide of the main character, the late Hannah Baker, is an honest depiction of how uncomfortable and ugly these situations truly are.

While many feel as though “13 Reasons Why” does a great job of making sure depression, sexual assault and suicide are taken seriously, and not romanticized, some are left scarred by the jarring frames that the creators decided to depict, against the advice of original author Jay Asher.

It was first in episode nine of the show that it became clear to audience members that this was not as simple as watching Clay Jensen mourn the death of his ultimate crush, but that it was meant to be a segway to discuss some darker subjects that do not usually have a place in mainstream media. At the beginning of this episode, viewers were prompted with a warning of graphic images of sexual assault to follow. Even with this warning, viewers followed on in order to see how the story continued, even though the images were too much to handle. Executive producer Selena Gomez spoke out about the backlash received from these jarring scenes:

We wanted to do it justice and, yeah, [the backlash is] gonna come no matter what…It’s not an easy subject to talk about, but I’m very fortunate with how it’s doing.”

Along with the distasteful “welcome to your tape” memes that have spawned across the internet, there has been fear of copycat scenarios based on the suicide ideation that the last episode of the show presents to viewers. It is because of this fear that creators have now placed a new warning in the beginning of the entire series in order to stop the faint of heart from ever meeting Hannah Baker.

But is that fair? Is it fair that the proverbial Hannah Baker is shunned away from society just because of the dark moments of her life? Are critics right in their views that somethings are better kept in the dark? Or is it society’s duty to discuss these shunned topics in order to fully understand the motives behind these darker actions in human nature?