13 Reasons Why “13 Reasons Why” Sucked

CONTENT WARNING, HOMIES: Mention of suicide. No descriptions or details.

Also spoilers, OBVIOUSLY.

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I don’t actually have 13 reasons lol, but I’ll list… a number of them.

1. It glorifies suicide SO HARD.

It’s just a revenge fantasy for depressed teens, and that’s infuriating and likely destructive. But, much smarter people than me have covered this in detail, so I don’t need to dig into it.

2. The moral ambiguity isn’t goddamn ambiguous enough.

Despite occasionally touching on the idea that everyone is shitty sometimes, they still hand out free passes to their main protagonists. You spend most of the show waiting for the main kid’s tape to come up because you want to find out what he did wrong, and then it turned out the only thing he did wrong is LITERALLY NOTHING. “You don’t deserve to be on these tapes lol!” OKAY??

Not to mention their entirely flawless MORAL CENTER AND SPIRITUAL GUIDE for the whole thing was just… an empty shell of virtuousness. He’s fucking 17, but acts like a goddamn 90-year-old Buddhist. Sorry dawg, but no teenager has their shit THAT together.

Despite being the coolest person in the show, who had one of the hardest choices to make, we learn essentially nothing about him as a person, other than he… has a car. And knows how to fix cars. And is gay. Like…?

3. Apparently depression is entirely environmental?

It seems a series of horrific things have to happen to you for you to become suicidal! Her depression was created entirely by her garbage peers! LET’S IGNORE THE LIKELY GENETIC AND CHEMICAL COMPONENTS INVOLVED IN MOOD DISORDERS, AND INSTEAD FURTHER CONVINCE DEPRESSED TEENS THAT THEIR FEELINGS AREN’T REAL UNLESS THEY HAVE EXTERNAL REASONS FOR THEM.

Now, art is art, and I want to make this clear: I don’t believe any piece of art has an obligation to represent the most current science on any topic, political or otherwise.

It honestly wouldn’t bother me that they presented depression inaccurately, if it felt like a genuine story that someone wanted to tell. But instead…

 

4. It was a 13-hour PSA against bullying.

If you’re going to try to sell me an idea, at least sell it accurately. Don’t imply the only reason anyone feels sad is due to being aggressively shit on, and then tie it up in a neat little bow that says “don’t shit on people.”

In the last episode, the kid actually pointedly says, “We need to get better, we all just need to be nicer to each other!” OR SOME SHIT. I’m paraphrasing, but it was equally fucking trite.

Wow, we need to be nicer to each other? Cooooool, cool cool cool.

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5. Thanks for forcing a real issue down my throat, and then providing a solution that doesn’t actually fucking solve anything.

Okay, so they just used a caricature of a depressed teen as a conduit to sell me on anti-bullying. Fine.

WHY are kids mean to each other in the first place, dude? You can’t just expect this shit to go away by TELLING PEOPLE NOT TO DO IT ANYMORE.

How bout we talk about toxic masculinity? How bout we mention the bullshit the media feeds teenagers to make them feel constantly inferior, causing them to humiliate each other just to rebuild some of their crippled self-esteem? how bout we address one of LITERALLY DOZENS OF SOCIETAL AND CULTURAL FACTORS THAT INFLUENCE THE WAY TEENAGERS TREAT EACH OTHER?

But instead, they were just like, “Look, when you’re not nice, someone might craft an elaborate plan to make you feel really guilty about her suicide!” THAT IS THE LESSON. THEY PRESENT ALMOST NOTHING DEEPER THAN THAT.

6. Y’all had the chance to get into some complex, murky waters, and you squandered it.

They occasionally touched on the inaccuracy of our perceptions. How Hannah’s “truth” was not everyone’s “truth.” That memories can be distorted and falsified by our own feelings.

But at the end of the day, the only things she misremembered are two fairly fucking minor details. Everything else was apparently totally true?

We’re dealing with a teenager, here. Teenagers suck at everything–particularly accurately perceiving (and recounting) experiences.

I have no fucking idea what actually happened to me when I was 15, because my versions of it involves a hellish landscape of Everyone is Evil Except Me. Add a mood disorder to the already chaotic experience of being a teenager, and what you should get is an incredibly unreliable narrator.

Mental health issues can definitely exacerbate bullying, and bullying can exacerbate mental health issues. Watching those factors interact would have been way more interesting than just… watching teens be mean to each other because “lol high school.”

Once, a character says to Hannah, “Some of the things that happen to you, you bring on yourself.” Now THAT could have been an interesting path to follow. They could have touched on how depression can sometimes cause you to drive people away, and then blame them for leaving. That could have resonated with me. That could have been valuable to teenagers who are dealing with this shit. More valuable than a fucking glorified D.A.R.E.-style anti-bullying pamphlet that takes 13 hours to read.

But instead, they continued to paint her as the eternal victim, save for a couple minor infractions. Everything is still everyone else’s fault and Hannah is only sad because all other teenagers are ball-holes.

7. You suck at teens.

They all spoke and acted, largely, like adults. Like. VERY ADULT adults, even. No one acts like this. NO ONE ACTS LIKE THIS.

Also, it opens with some super forced “lol millennials” shit. Kids taking pics next to the dead girl’s locker and debating what hashtag they should use.

Like. WE GET IT. TEENAGERS HAVE CELL PHONES NOW. AND THEY USE SOCIAL MEDIA AND HASHTAGS AND STUFF LOL!!!!! Have you even… BEEN to a high school? Or are you basing your understanding of millennials exclusively on CBS’s portrayals of them?

8. Hannah did some fucked up shit.

Not only did she guilt the fuck out of everyone for her own decision, but she tortured the fuck out of the only person who was nice to her for no goddamn reason.

She didn’t JUST put Clay on the tapes and then go “lol jk, we cool brah, we cool.”  No, she went the extra mile and put him second to fucking last.  She let him spend hours, days, WEEKS obsessing over what he might have done to contribute to the death of someone he deeply cared about–all so she could maintain some dramatic fucking suspense.

Her tape to Clay is an apology for her confusing and hurtful behavior during their relationship, and yet her intentional, very thought-out presentation of this apology was just MORE CONFUSING AND HURTFUL BEHAVIOR.

If that doesn’t speak to some degree of mental illness, I don’t know what does. And yet still, NOPE. HANNAH’S BEHAVIOR WAS NEARLY PERFECT AND EVERYONE DID THIS TO HER FOR NO REASON.

Anyway, there’s probably more but I’m bored and have a lot of work to do. BYE FOREVER.

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