5 Reasons Why All Parents Must Binge Watch ‘13 Reasons Why’
Hannah Baker leaves ‘13 Reasons Why’ she killed herself. Parents, you don’t need that many to watch and learn.
I’m not a parent, but if I was, I would be seriously concerned after watching Netflix’s new thriller series, 13 Reasons Why. It’s not the content of the show that had me worried, but the fact that it mirrors the reality of today’s adolescent, so damn well.
13 Reasons Why depicts every single thing that drives a girl named Hannah Baker to taking her own life. So as I binge watched all 13 episodes, I couldn’t help but think that Hannah Baker’s story is also a crash course for all parents, about everything that could possibly go wrong for their kids in school.
Beware, spoilers ahead!
De-Shame Mental Illness
Most Indian parents are clueless about mental illnesses and are often ashamed to reach out for professional help for their kids. Clay Jenson, one of the lead characters of the show, is not the most expressive kid. But his parents are open about taking him to therapy for the nightmares and breakdowns he’s been having. The way they speak of it bears no trace of shame. They discuss it with him, giving the teenager the strength to take a decision about his own wellbeing. Depression and anxiety of varying degrees of severity can be big triggers for suicide. Don’t let the stigma of ignorance get in the way of your child’s life, not in the 21st century.
Bullying Doesn’t End With School
Peer pressure and bullying have been reinvented in the digital age, thanks to social media. I clearly remember the pornographic MMS scandal that hit one of the most renowned public schools of Delhi, back in 2004. I will never forget that, because I went to the same school. Not only did that ‘harmless guy joke’ ruin the life of the girl involved, but it gave every girl walking the corridors of that school, the coveted ‘slut’ tag.
Today, abuse is anonymous and has no boundaries, especially on Twitter and Facebook. 13 Reasons Why gives a rare and extremely real glimpse into bullying, that starts within the school environment, and transpires into every aspect of Hannah Baker’s life. I think every parent-teacher meeting should focus on bullying and potential abuse, in addition to one’s aptitude.
Our Schools Simply HAVE to Start Talking About Rape and Consent
In Hannah Baker’s tragic story, rape is the final trigger for suicide. It is soul crushing. But what’s worse is the guy’s sense of entitlement. No one talks about consent in school or anywhere else, even in the show. Is it that obvious a concept, or that trivial?
The boy who rapes Hannah Baker assumes that she wanted him, simply because she was in the same hot tub as him. She begs him to stop, but loses consciousness as he continues to penetrate her repeatedly. He brags about it later as ‘knowing what a woman wants’. If that’s not shocking enough, the school counsellor actually makes her life worse. He simply fails to help her when she tries to report the assault.
Parents are concerned about late nights and skirt lengths. But why is no parent, school or college teaching boys about consent, rape and sexual harassment?
Don’t Give Up On Them
Hannah Baker’s story ends with her depressing realisation that no one fought for her. Not her parents, not the nice guy she calls ‘Helmet’, not the gay guys who never checked out her ass, and not even the school counsellor. No one lingered or pressed hard enough to find out if she’s doing okay. You might be a ‘liberal’ parent who chooses to give your teenager privacy and space. But they might need a break from that too, for you to press on and get to the bottom of their problems without judgement.
Suicide Is Anything But Cowardly
Does 13 Reasons Why glamorise suicide? Does it go too far in depicting the traumatic act for what it is? Some viewers and mental health organisations think so. But like Nic Sheff, one of the show’s writers who has also attempted suicide in the past, I’m glad that the series stays real, even in its uncomfortable end.
There are many reasons I’m proud to have worked on 13 Reasons Why. But the thing I am the most proud of, in all honestly, is the way we decided to depict Hannah’s suicide, especially, the way Brian Yorkey wrote it, and Kyle Alvarez directed it. And so I stand behind what we did 100 percent. I know it was right, because my own life was saved when the truth of suicide was finally held up for me to see in all its horror and reality.Nic Sheff, Writer of 13 Reasons Why (Source: Vanityfair.com)
A lot of what led Hannah Baker to her painful end, might seem trivial and an overreaction to many. Her so-called friends find comfort in blaming her for it too, rather than owning up to their own deeds. But to actually see how an innocent first kiss – in this day and age of phone cameras and selfie obsessions – can trigger a chain reaction leading right up to suicide, is eerily enlightening for any parent.
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