June 9, 2017

The Show That Has Taken Over Our Lives

Shifra Zuckerman ‘18

Hannah Baker – the name that breaks our hearts a little more every time.
If only she knew that Clay was in love with her. If only she knew that she was stuck in the cruel high school bubble and one day she would move past it. If only they all knew how she was hurting.
“13 Reasons Why,” has not only been named the most watched Netflix series that has ever been produced, but it also has been spreading its message around the world. Ever since the series, which is based on the 2007 original novel, was released on March 31st, it has been one of the biggest conversations at dinner tables and even in school hallways and assemblies.
The concept of a television series sharing the story of a depressed teenage girl who takes her own life frightens people. However, the show’s producers actually intended to send the audience that very message.
“I just wanted it to come across in a way that kids would be frightened, but confused,” executive producer Selena Gomez stated. “In a way that they would talk about it because it's something that's happening all the time. "
It certainly appears that a majority of the audiences have interpreted the show the way the producers wanted, although, many others have different perspectives on the show’s true meaning and what lessons it teaches.
“I watched the season in two or three days; it was addictive,” junior Jessie Ruchman said. “When I finished, I became more aware of everyone around me.”
Junior Matthew Friedman added that the series sends “a really strong message about understanding the repercussions of one’s actions.
“Also, I think it’s so important to surround yourself with people who support and care for you. Hannah did not have caring and true friends, but maybe if she did, she wouldn’t have wanted to take her life.”
Further, many individuals have claimed that this show may have a greater negative impact on society than a positive one. Some even think that the series is glorifying the idea of suicide.
“I can somewhat see why people think the show is romanticizing suicide,” freshman Danielle Hodes said. “Hannah decides to use suicide as revenge. She made it seem so easy, as if she was proving something to her peers when, in all honesty, suicide shouldn’t even be an option.”
School nurse, Ms. Ilena Kasdan, wasn’t quite as convinced that the show glorifies suicide.
“It’s making people more aware that mental issues are true issues,” she said. “The individual who obtains these issues should be treated the same as someone with a cardiac problem. They need to seek professional help.”
Ms. Kasdan also wanted to note that, although she acknowledges that the guidance counselors have their doors open for students, her’s is always open, as well.
A number of individuals also wish that the writers had written the show a little differently.  Hodes explained that she was “disappointed that the series did not show individuals how to actually get help when going through those types of struggles.”
Even though the show may not have done enough to express that, under the circumstances of depression and suicidal thoughts, it is imperative to seek help, the cast and crew took it upon themselves to spread this message after the show’s release.
Katherine Langford, who plays Hannah, along with her fellow cast members, went directly to social media to publicize channels for people with suicidal thoughts to get help.
Even though this is a show/ there for entertainment, if at any point you or someone you know needs help, please go to 13ReasonsWhy.info for resources and information,” Langford posted to Instagram.
While the impact and messages of the show are widely debated, the audience seems to agree that the series taught them one significant lesson: be kind to others.
Perhaps Ruchman said it best: “The show definitely made me realize that the smallest actions have the biggest impact on others.”

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