13 Reasons Why – Opinion by Felina Silver Robinson

I started watching 13 Reasons Why with my teenage daughters. We had watched season 1 together. I remember being angry about Hannah’s (Katherine Langford) crying out for help in her own way and not really getting it. I remember being even angrier when the school learned of her death and all they cared about was making sure to preserve the schools image and that of their teachers. Hannah’s well being nor that of her families was even considered. Season 2 makes me so angry  that I truly wanted to blow a gasket. I’m not angry at the show. My anger is geared toward the true reality that I know has occurred in real situations depicted in the series. In season 2, Principal Gary Bolan played by Steven Weber is even more about protecting the schools image. He believes that the school along with all its teachers and guidance team did all they could do to help Hannah Baker, but did they? As a parent, I don’t think they did. Parents alike know just how hard it is to get our children to talk to us especially once they become teenagers. There is a constant fear of being judged.  It’s bad enough being judged by their peers but being judged by their parents or any other adult is one of the worst things that could happen.

Understanding that Hannah was new to town and feeling somewhat vulnerable and alienated, the teachers should have done more to make sure she was feeling a part of things. If she had felt more connected to even one teacher, she may have felt more comfortable being honest about what had happened to her. Teen rape is not a new thing. Bullying is just as commonplace. It’s every schools responsibility to deal with both of these things before they become a problem, making students aware of the support systems in place. Students need to know they have a safe place to talk.

13 Reasons Why makes every episode grabs at your heart. Through every exposure is a betrayal of someone you thought was a friend or at least an ally. You find yourself placing yourself in each one of their positions and remembering when you were in your very own just like it on either side. The world is full of people who have experienced the very same things just at a different place and time.

It’s not easy admitting that you let someone take a piece of you that they didn’t deserve that you didn’t want them to have, but they were stronger than you were. You wanted to make them pay, you wanted to tell someone, but the strength never came. You find that you can never forgive yourself and you don’t know what to do with that feeling.

Every day I battle with my very own memories of when I was in the same place as Hannah Baker. Even at 55, I still don’t know what to do with those feelings. You live each day, just getting by. Everyone tells you it will be ok, but if they haven’t been there, they don’t know what’s it’s like to be a survivor of such a traumatic event, struggling each day with your now tainted past. Always feeling as though everyone’s eyes are on you, judging you every moment, when really, it’s just you judging yourself.

Watching 13 Reasons Why made me think of every time someone bullied me, every time I might not have been nice to someone else, and every time my children were bullied. I cried a lot, and for the first time when I watched something there was no laughter. I knew it was because real life just isn’t funny. Hurting others is not funny and being hurt is definitely not funny.

At the end of episode 11, Clay storms off to Bryce’s house to “make him pay” for what he did to Hannah. Bryce is sitting in his favorite chair sipping on whisky. He here’s something and steps outside his front door to find Justin trying to stop Clay from shooting Bryce, then he turns the gun on himself. Thankfully, Clay didn’t end up shooting anyone, thanks to Justin.

During episode 12 Clay, Alex, Tyler, Zach and other rally around Jessica as she finally tells the police what Bryce did to her. Jessica’s dad finally apologizes to Justin for blaming him for Bryce’s wrong doings. After the school was found not liable in the matter of Hannah Baker’s death, Bryce was arrested for felony sexual assault. Justin was arrested for accessory after the fact. Everyone tries to find normal again. I’m angered by the fact that Bryce seems to get the best outcome of all. Although he’s lost all of his college acceptances as well as scholarships and due to a lack of needed credits has to go back to the same school as a junior, he gets a pass to some sort of normal. Every girl that was touched by his malicious behavior will be scarred for life. Jessica has to continue on in the same school with a rapist and everyone who loved Hannah has to watch Bryce “be happy” while they remain in pain.

In Episode 13, Bryce is back in school as if nothing happened. Clay’s family is offering to adopt Justin so that he doesn’t get tossed into the system since they couldn’t find his biological mother.  Tyler returns hoping to rekindle a relationship with his former girlfriend, but she’s moved on with someone else.  Tyler is in the mens bathroom and gets sexually assaulted by Monty and his goonies after bashing his head into the bathroom mirror and in and against the toilet. It made me sick to my stomach that this happened on school grounds in a school bathroom and no one in the school had a clue that it had occurred. Tyler lies to his mom telling him that his first day was a success when really, it was most likely one of the worst days of his life.

The kids are all letting loose at the school dance.  Bryce tells Monty that it’s over between the two of them as friends. He’s done with him. Bryce tells Justin that he’s transfering to another school and starting over. Justin is obviously upset that Bryce gets a clean slate. Everyone is enjoying a good time and connecting with one another. People are smiling, and laughing collectively for the first time since the tragedy of Hannah’s death. No one has any idea that Tyler is on his way to the dance with a machine gun. Thankfully, clay and Tony have an idea of what’s going through Tyler’s mind. Tony whisks Tyler away while Clay takes away the gun, shaking where he stands after Tyler was just trying to kill him. Clay saved everyone inside. I wonder if they had any idea. Jessica  and Justin do as they come outside to find Clay. They all stand dazed and confused, Jessica saying this is crazy and they all wonder what they do now.  It’s clear with that ending that the door is wide open to a third go around of the series. I would watch it in a heartbeat.

I can’t say it strongly enough that anyone entertaining the idea of suicide should not watch this series, if they do, it should definitely not be alone. Everyone should talk about any and all of the parts that you have questions about.  Talk about what you think anyone could have done differently, what you would have done differently.  Know that you always have someone to talk to. It might seem like no one cares, but someone does. Reach out, don’t hold it in. Processing your feelings in any trauma related situation is key to the recovery process.

13 Reasons why gets a 5 star rating for me. My only complaint was wishing a better ending for Hannah’s parents. It’s sad what tragedy brings to a relationship, although it is quite clear that their relationship was on the rocks prior to Hannah’s death.

13 Reasons Why – Opinion by Felina Silver Robinson©

Copyright© May 2018

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