review | 13 reasons why

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I’m sure you have heard of this Netflix series and if you have not, it probably is a matter of time before you do. Surprisingly, Selena Gomez also had a hand in its making. The series had a range of reactions from those who love it to those who hate it and you would see all the feedback spamming your Twitter or Facebook timelines. I love behavioral psychology and this was exactly the sort of thing that piqued my curiosity.

Admittedly, my first thoughts were:

How can there be 13 episodes about a girl committing suicide? Is that not a bit draggy?

Why would they create a series about a suicide?

How would it affect the younger generation?

*cue old lady thoughts*

All it took was one episode and I was hooked.

Nowadays, the camera work of TV series is just beautiful (this was no exception), the soundtrack was beautiful and so was the transitioning between Hannah’s life and the present. One episode could entail so much and I was literally on the edge of my seat for some episodes.

It’s not that I don’t disagree about romanticizing suicide but here are just my opinions. Firstly, you definitely need a level of maturity to watch it.  If your kids are in their angsty phase and lack the maturity, it’s best to entice them with some other TV series. Keep this for yourself, because honestly, you could learn a lot from it being a parent.  Secondly, it’s a sad fact but if it’s not this show being a bad influence, something else would be so practice your parental supervision superpower! There’s a prompt to warn you to call somebody should you be having suicidal thoughts. Before every episode, mind you.

Helicopter parenting is not for me, but we should take a genuine interest in our kids’ lives and what they choose to watch. I remember when I did not monitor AK’s Youtube journeys and she started acting up, only to realize she had been watching these videos of “Bad Baby.” Honestly, why would people create such a thing??? But hey, they do so just look out for your kid and changes in their behavior. Sometimes you have just got to watch it first and decide if it’s appropriate for them, lest you get a toddler/child with inconsolable tantrums and shouting like I did for a week! (No thanks to Bad Baby…)

Adolescence and growing up can be such an awkward phase of life. There are the changes in your body hitting puberty (you know, ugly duckling and all) and notwithstanding the “being there but not nearly there yet” moments you often encounter. Interactions can seem amplified in terms of importance and you may always be worried of what others think of you. There is that nagging thought of insecurity that pops up at least once daily. Notwithstanding how other kids can sometimes be cruel without really thinking of the consequences or impact. Adolescence can be painful and sometimes its as though  parents or other adults don’t seem to grasp how something could be so important to kids or affect them as much when they go through it.

It helps you think of how it could have been the first time you went through some form of cruelty or disappointment and understood it for what it was. No sugar coating or cushions to protect you. My heart would drop at some bits yet there was an all too familiar sensation as I remembered my adolescent phase. I think we have all been through some unpleasant times growing up too.

Watching the series also made me think of how parents may not necessarily know what goes on in their children’s lives and it’s a tough place to be in. You can’t be stalking your kid or interrogating them every time since it may drive them away but neither can you be so buddy buddy that they feel they are above everything. It made me think of how important balance is; to be there for them and love them but still help guide them accordingly. It’s so important to have them be able to relate and share things with you (without you having to squeeze it out of them all the time).

It’s a changing world and one that gets scarier by the day. In truth, sometimes you never know what could happen despite how hard you may try protecting and taking care of your children. This series showed how every moment and interaction can sort of matter and you can actually feel Hannah’s loneliness. How such loss is never easy and we may sometimes divert our eyes because something seems like a bother to deal with. My heart ached for Hannah’s parents as they were living life like normal couples would, yet somehow missed the cues. All it takes is one show of kindness, of reaching out that could help someone else a long way.

It’s understandable how such a series can cause controversy; even now mental health professionals are still debating whether it makes sense to expose kids to it. To this, I would say tread with care for your own children. It is not necessarily a bad thing if you think of the series being able to cater to other age groups (such as the older generation). Watch it with an open mind and you may really get some insights from it, hopefully it does not make you overly paranoid. Don’t watch it just to bash it. You may also end up thinking of your past and current relationships and interactions with people you know, which can be a good thing.

Season 2 is out next year and while it depends on what series tickles my fancy this time next year, I am keen to read the book. I found this season to be pretty comprehensive, despite the cliffhanger at the end. The ending was executed in a satisfactory way for me and am intrigued to get the book since I read that it may have spun off a bit differently for the Netflix series.

I get how the writers felt that if you are of a sound and healthy mental state, you would not view it so differently from other TV series. For one, I did not see kids trying to be vampires or werewolves or even magicians, but then again suicide is first and foremost a sensitive topic. To that, I would agree as the length of the series takes you on a journey as to how suicide really tends to happen. It’s not a spur of the moment thing, although we may be shocked and view it as such when we hear of such cases. In that sense, their aim for creating awareness about bullying, harassment and suicide might have hit the nail on its head.

It did for me.