The Importance of 13 Reasons Why

Off Duty

Have you ever wondered about how much your words mean to other people? I hadn’t given this idea much thought until watching 13 Reasons Why, which is a TV show newly available on Netflix (based on a novel that I have not yet read). I finished this show in a short span of only three days, and it was a serious ride. If you ask me, everyone needs to watch this show.

For those unfamiliar with the premise of this hard-hitting show, it is heavy and intended for mature audiences. The story revolves around a high school girl named Hannah Baker who kills herself, and in response records 13 tapes explaining why she did it. The show follows the people who knew her trying to figure it all out. The concept of this show has frightened some people off due to its serious content. Lots of people say things like, “I watch TV to relax”, and I think that’s great. However, I believe that there should also be films and TV with a deeper purpose because art is a safe space to have conversations about issues in the real world. The fact that people have such difficulty discussing depression and bullying only makes these situations worse and more likely to keep occurring.

Personally, I wish I could have watched this show while I was in high school due to how it revealed the toxic nature of rumors and gossip. The majority of people in high school partake in this without even a second thought, and will do anything to maintain or build their reputation. But even if you are much older than high school age, this show is still vitally important because it shows how powerful our words are as well as how social media influences our flow of communication. Showing this through teenagers is just an amazing way to demonstrate this. One of my favorite actors James Franco once said “Teenagers are really good vessels to articulate emotions. They feel things in such heavy ways and wear their hearts on their sleeves”. I feel that this concept rings true for this 13 Reasons Why, you become attached to these characters who are trying to figure it all out as many of us adults still are. They are often messy with their actions, and don’t see the repercussions. With the power of social media, I would argue adults are the same way. Technology is still very new in the grand scheme of things so we have to be thoughtful in how we use it.

I saw so much of myself in a lot of these characters (especially my high school self), which made it scary. The most powerful part of this show was how many of the characters individually didn’t even do anything that bad, but combined together they lead to this girl taking her own life. If even one thing would have been different, it could have all changed. It’s our responsibility as human beings to stop this domino effect if we can. You never know what someone is going through. When it comes to suicide, it is never one person’s fault. It’s often easy to blame the victim and say things like “they’re the one who chose to do it”, but instead of focusing on placing blame it is much more important to focus on how we can fix it—by being a friend and a good person. Separating the moral importance of the show, the technical elements are also very good. It has a vibe more similar to a movie instead of a TV show because of its use of music and storytelling. The acting was also impressive. All in all, definitely check out 13 Reasons Why!

With that, I want to personally say sorry to anyone that I have hurt with my words in the past. Looking forward, I plan to self-check and treat people with more kindness. I also want to say that if anyone is seriously struggling and wants to talk to someone about it, I am here for any of you.


Kelsey Knepler

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