The reasons 13 Reasons Why is so watchable
A drama about teen suicide that’s at times endearing and full of wit – really? That’s not something you get too often, but that’s what 13 Reasons Why has managed to do, mesmerising audiences around the world.
Focussing on Hannah, a teenage girl so ground down by problems that she takes her own life, 13 Reasons Why is being hailed by some for its handling of an extremely difficult subject.
It begins with a striking premise ¬– tapes recorded by Hannah, are sent to people after her death, explaining the part they played in her decision to kill herself (bit spooky that…).
Of course, we’ve had dramas about teens taking their lives before. Remember The Virgin Suicides – the story of five teenage sisters who kill themselves? Or how about A Girl Like Her, which shows how teen bullying can lead to near tragic events?
One thing that makes 13 Reasons Why so different, though, is how humour is used to highlight teen idiosyncrasies…The producers sensed when viewers needed some wit and fun to lighten the load (who wouldn’t!), and managed to inject it in a believable manner.
Take the scene where nice guy Clay explodes at Tony, a character who is constantly showing up out of thin air and answering Clay’s questions with cryptic hints and more questions. After one disappointing answer too many, Clay exclaims, “You’re like this unhelpful Yoda!” At which point a less-than tall Tony asks, “Is that a crack at my height?” The term ‘unhelpful Yoda’ has since become a worldwide popular meme.
The Virgin Suicides and A Girl Like Her show us girls in the middle of their struggles, but 13 Reasons Why is different. It shows us Hannah in happier times – witty and joking with her parents, which makes her descent into fatal depression all the more harrowing.
We never get any real answer as to why the sisters in The Virgin Suicides did what they did but with Hannah, the reasons are all too clear.
Some viewers and critics have argued that 13 Reasons Why actually glamourises suicide. We wouldn’t go that far, but what the show does highlight is how life will most definitely go on even without the people we lose.
So, we’re into serious stuff here, but it’s all dealt with in an accessible manner.
Whichever side of the debate you fall on, it’s hard to deny the conversations the show has started, and with season two on the way, the flurry isn’t going to end any time soon.
Visit Netflix and explore a topic worth talking about.
The Virgin Suicides, A Girl Like Her and 13 Reasons Why are available on Netflix now.
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