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13 Reasons Why

"Kill yourself. That'll show them. That'll show everyone! They'll all be sorry!"
Even though revenge isn't one of her 13 reasons why she killed herself when the last episode came, that seems to be the big takeaway from the whole show. Teenagers shouldn't grow or change or get angry with each other or back away from a friendship or make mistakes or have hormones...

Look at any coming-of-age movie or show, or hell, read your own high school diary/journal. Teenagers are rife with new hormones trying to balance themselves out. That's a recipe for even the underdogs to be assholes on occasion.

The show's not all awful. They make a few good points here and there, but none of them are really taken to heart, not even in the apex.

The main character is Clay. OH, CLAY. What a shitty, no-dimensional character you are.
Let's not even go into the details of the world's fakest head wound (I have a running list of problems with the makeup fx if anyone cares).
We immediately have a conflicting baseline for his relationship to Hannah. In flashbacks, they seemed like they were pretty close, maybe even dating at some point...? But in the present, it seems like he barely even knows her, he denies his closeness when others ask, and it looks like none of their friends knew they were ever close either. In the book, they'd just met in passing, which ought to explain some things in that resepect. Clay is Exhibit-A for aggressive and unnecessary hormones, because when he wasn't staring into space for long and awkward amounts of time (rivaled only by JD zoning out on Scrubs, only Clay has a hard time snapping out of it), he was lashing out at all the people on the tapes (a serious problem I'll get to in a few minutes). And he didn't even lash out effectively. He just gummed everything up and made shit worse half the time.

Hannah's character would have been great if not for her crime (not the act of killing herself, but her massive revenge that I'll get to later). She's a perfect picture of your average teenager with lots of flaws hiding how badly she's suffering at the hands of severe depression. A small number of very big and traumatic things happened to her, and she deserves to be upset, depressed, and sure, suicidal over them. As a teenager, there is not a lot so detrimental, lingering, and dangerous as slut-shaming, as we find out toward the end.

When we see her from Clay's distant point of view, though, we see a teenage girl who's fucking nuts, who blows shit out of proportion, who takes everything too personally. Like I said before, this is what teenagers do. Adolescent brains haven't experienced a lot of life, so when young people appear to overreact to stupid situations as life-or-death, that's because those little moments are that grave in their minds. You remember how mortifying it was to drop your lunch tray in front of everyone? You could have died right there! Now as an adult, do you fucking care that much if you drop your lunch in front of coworkers or fellow college peers? Was it really that shitty? Everyone does embarrassing things. In retrospect, it's not so bad. But kids don't really have retrospect yet.

The problem with viewing her as some drama queen is that it glazes over the one good point the show makes: Depression detaches you from reality. Anyone with depression or anxiety (etc) knows what it's like to feel personally attacked by a small, shitty thing a friend did, forcing your infected mind to question the entire relationship (just look at my coffee post from yesterday - This guy was a confidant - someone I could always turn to, and over a cup of coffee I feel like our whole friendship is a sham. I haven't even given him eye contact today). So what we see is a girl who blows things out of proportion, but instead of realizing that's what depression does, we just... don't. We don't get that message at all. Only people who've been there and survived (even a little) get that message. The rest of the world probably needed to have had it spelled out for them.

As for the other characters. The "Reasons"... The show paints rude and mean people as equal to being bullies.
I get it. To Hannah, everyone bullied her. And her mom saw stupid shit people scrawled on the bathroom wall and demanded that be the proof she needed to claim Hannah was bullied (hi, have you EVER been in a public toilet? It's not just in high schools). But this is a problem anyway. Every disagreement she ever had with her friends went on those tapes, and so every little thing was part of that tape's Reason. A lot of those kids didn't deserve the stigma of being blamed for someone's death just for being Non-Exemplary Teens (Bryce totally deserves what should have been coming to him, though - wish we could have seen that revenge come to fruition).

There are people who think the show doesn't glorify suicide, but when the plot is driven by revenge (successful revenge, at that), it motherfucking does.
By the end, we see that she's not specifically killing herself as a revenge tactic - like everyone who does it, it's the only exit from suffering they can see. You detach the suicide from the stories. But listen, even though it was a clear case of ending her suffering, the entire show is about her seeking revenge from her grave!! If it weren't, she would have instructed that each get their own tape (I actually would have rather seen each person react as they heard their own tape and no one else's - but I understand that everyone's stories intertwine).

Everyone heard the tapes, but nobody took the lessons to heart: don't be such a shit to your friends, talking helps, and fucking look at each other!

I saw from just a few episodes in that Alex was suicidal, and Jessica can't function sober anymore. These people deserved the least of the blame, yet suffered most. Not a single person in the show took notice of Alex's suicidal tendencies, and they saw everything I saw, and that bothered me so much, because this should have been the fucking point of the whole show!

You know why nobody saw each others' problems after they should have learned the lesson from hearing the tapes? Because they were all too caught up in their own guilt to ever care about each other again. The tapes didn't act like a learning experience where people are sorry for the right reasons. They keep their guilt and don't apologize. They let their guilt destroy them. Hannah's real crime: the revenge fantasy come true. That's "they'll all be sorry!" in action. The other kind of sorry. The endless regret eating them alive.
And I do mean endless.
Because... can you really blame these kids for not paying attention after the tragedy? Imagine you're first or second on the list and then every person who listens after you approaches you and drives the guilt deeper for being shitty that one time, and having each person tell you that's why she killed herself. Over and over and over and over...
I mean, everyone up til Clay threw a rock through Tyler's fucking window. Who's really surprised he's planning on turning his classmates into swiss cheese next season (please don't be a next season unless you take the criticisms to heart, ugh).

Hard to believe it took 11 people to move their little worlds forward an inch, too, especially in regards to Bryce's crimes. Clay the savior. Clay the lifeless little shit who also took part in slut-shaming, made cutting remarks, and had his own little pieces throughout the tapes (and yet Hannah deems him sinless while ignoring Jessica's genuine apologies and reconciliation to Hanna, while she was still alive).

The show is kinda worth a watch (if you can get past Clay's stupid face and that goddamn head wound) (and please, definitely heed the trigger warnings previous to the last few episodes, because holy shit). It had a lot of potential, but it just fell short or screwed up in too many key ways. They didn't give the viewer alternatives to suicide (no, they did, but those alternatives were: 1. talking to the world's shittiest counselor who makes cutting remarks. 2. Drinking to forget. 3. Denial. 4. Shooting up the teen torment hub. 5. Using a gun instead of a razor). It also went against Suicide Prevention guides (which they asked for, but ended up throwing away), mainly - don't show the suicide.
Now I have some conflicting thoughts on the suicide scene. On one hand, it didn't flower it up like they tend to do in some movies. They made it fucking horrifying. FUCKING HORRIFYING. They made me, a formerly very suicidal person, never want to consider that as a potential method for doing myself in, and hopefully they deterred other suicidals from the same action. But it didn't actually make me "see the light" on anything. All it did was make me consider another form, like taking pills and overdosing (which is how she did it in the book). And on the other hand, they basically showed you a VERY vivid how-to for slitting your wrists. Shit.

There's a shitload of stupid non-psychological technicalities of trope-o-vision that drove me nuts, too, but I guess I've made the point I wanted to make.