An Editorial By BROGAN JOHNSON
BROGAN JOHNSON FOR THE WIZARD WEEKLY
A little over a year ago, the notorious Netflix struck again with the worldwide release of yet another smash hit, called 13 Reasons Why. This series was based on the #1 New York Times best selling novel written in 2007 by Jay Asher. Although the screenplay deviates from some of the book’s original plot, the premise of a young high school student brought to suicide by betrayal and bullying remains.
Hannah Baker, the protagonist of the series, is a high school girl who went through the ringer: slut shaming, best friend betrayals, cyberbullying and sexual assault just to name a few. These horrific occurrences ultimately led to her decision to end her life. While 13 Reasons Why is not the first series to discuss teen bullying and suicide, it was the first show to graphically display this gut wrenching act to viewers. This raised concern in millions of parents, guardians, teachers and the loved ones of teens all over the world. The fear was that the show would create copycat suicides or that the content was just too much for young, vulnerable teenagers.
Even though these worries came from a place of reasoning, I think it was crucial for teens to watch the spiral of events Hannah faced as a result of her peers’ actions. Seeing how the actions of others affect a person can be extremely enlightening, hopefully resonating with those who have been bullies themselves. WHS junior, Billy Cronin, stated that watching this series “affected my way of thinking in a way that made me think about others and act more considerate towards them because you never know what other people are going through.”
Fellow junior, Lauren Gregg, was a fan of both the book and Netflix series, but was better “able to understand the person’s character and feel a better connection to Hannah through a screen, than through a book.” I believe this is why the creators decided not to censor these topics, in attempt to make them as realistic as possible and serve as an eyeopener for teens.
Cronin disagreed with my personal opinion and “thought the show was good for Hollywood and numbers but not for the kids out there struggling with suicide and bullying.” Although the topics depicted on the show hit many kids too close to home, we both could agree “the way the writers portrayed bullying was as true as it is in high school, as most of the bullying was done online.”
Throughout Lauren’s three years at WHS, “I have never seen or heard of the extreme bullying Hannah Baker went through in the show, yet it still happens.” The idea of such a ghastly thing becoming so common is unimaginable. “I feel suicide is so hard to deal with because it is impossible to accept that someone you know could take his or her life any day when you could have helped them,” shared Gregg.
Hannah’s suicide was by far the show’s biggest controversy as it was shown in its raw entirety. Cronin, along with many others, believed this scene “was a little too much since it showed how graphic and painful suicide can be.” Lauren conveyed, “I do understand that the writers wanted to make a series where the viewers could see and understand what Hannah had gone through that led to this, but some of the scenes were harder to watch than others like the sexual assaults and suicide.”
After being on the rollercoaster that is 13 Reasons Why, many were shocked to hear Netflix announce a second season. Many questioned how the show could go on after all the tapes, but we will soon know what interesting spinoff the producers took with the series return May 18th. As the second season airs this weekend, I, along with many other fans, am anxious to see what else is in store and hope the second season is as powerful as the first!