I love good YA and John Green is my jam.
However I made it through exactly one episode of 13 reasons why. 13 reasons why is a new Netflix show based on a YA novel by Jay Asher, and it’s about a girl who kills herself and sends her friends and acquaintances a stack of tapes detailing the reasons why and what kind of role they played in driving her to kill herself.
I know how that sounds. It sounds like 13 hours of solid laughs and giggles.
So here’s what I like about it so I don’t sound like a complete hater, the performances are good, there’s some great direction in there. As a show, it’s beautifully shot. There are key messages in there about being aware of how your behaviour affects other and maybe it’s a gentle reminder to teens to be kinder.
Also props to the casting people who cast Dylan Minnette who gives me total Cameron vibes. Nice work.
All of this of course, is totally demolished by the astounding, passive-aggressiveness of our heroine Hannah Baker, who records thirteen hours worth of tape to assign blame. I think I’m supposed to feel sorry for Hannah (Bullying is terrible. Full stop.), but actually I feel more terrible for these kids who are going to have these tapes on their psyches forever, especially since it seems our girl Hannah is not the most reliable of narrators. In life, they mistreat her in some way and in death, she mistreats them right back.
She is the Sadako of teenage suicide cassette tapes.
I’ve read a couple of thinkpieces where they suggest that Hannah’s tapes and voiceovers are a good thing, they give her agency, the dead girl isn’t just dead. She now has a voice to make people listen to her – I don’t have the words to describe how problematic that is as a message, are we suggesting to (the youngish) audience that death is the best way to make people listen?
Alas, I can’t do another 12 episodes of this moralistic mess so I’m leaving you behind 13 reasons why.