13 reasons why was this show such a hit?
So I spent months psyching myself up to watch this show. I was scared. I was terrified that I would not be able to handle a show that had suicide as the central focal point. I could see myself watching it and then spiralling out of control, wandering the house at night, picking at my skin, poking for lumps in my stomach and losing control of my bodily functions from the anxiety of it all. I avoided it and quietly let the hype build, divide and dissipate.
Watching 'To the Bone' as soon as it came out on Netflix shifted something in me though. I knew it had some flaws (along with Keanu's wooden acting chops, still love him though) but, I rated it. I liked it and quite frankly, flaws and all, I was glad to see it. I was glad it was on Netflix, I'm glad we're talking about it and the subject is out there. I have no first-hand experience with anorexia, my body issues are vile but they never manifested into anything I couldn't handle. So, I can't empathise with the issues or pinpoint anything I could verify 'To the Bone' did wrong. All in all, I didn't hate it.
The shift led me to go for it. To dive in and try 13 reasons why? Maybe I'd be ok.
I was. I was fine. In fact, I was downright furious by the time I finished it.
I found it dull, vapid, soulless, confusing, stupid and irritating. It did nothing but make me angry, not at its subject, but more because I wasted so much energy worrying about it and then watching it. Here are some of my 'reasons why' I hated the show.
Hannah - Her portrayal of the depressed high school loner, didn't wash with me. She had a job, she turned up to school and work, she didn't isolate, wander the house at night, darken her room, push her parents away, overeat, starve, drink too much or start taking drugs. To me (TO ME, this is a personal account of what I watched!!) - there were so many occasions where the script, rather than portray the depression of a lonely sad teenager, it portrayed the passive aggression of a sociopath.
Jessica felt more like she was portraying a depressed, erratic, out of control individual to me. But that's my personal opinion.
Clay - Too slow. I get it, as a plot device he took his time listening to the tapes but MAN, this show could have benefitted so much with being a feature length one off much like 'To the Bone'. Even binge watching it, I was infuriated with just how long it took for ANYTHING to happen. By the time it did, I really didn't care that much. And, the stupid cut on his forehead? What was the timeline of all this? It felt like weeks but his crusty scab tells me it happened over days. Stupid. Vapid. Irritating.
I believe it trivialises rape. Again, personal opinion. Yes, nasty things happened to Hannah, but spending 6 episodes on a handwritten list and emphasising how this lead to her death when in actual fact someone was committing actual rape on students and we didn't find out until later on in the show made me furious. I have sat through the harrowing details of the documentary 'Audrey and Daisy', committed to making you sick to your stomach at the thought of what happens to young girls at school. I realise this was also a plot device but in a way it was kind of disgusting to do this. Don't follow a guy with an infected cut around for 8 hours just for the thrill of bingeing viewers, this is a f*cking serious subject, that ultimately felt trivialised for bums on seats. Insulting.
Tony? The Fonz? What???!!! I had absolutely no idea what he was supposed to represent. Hannah's friend? I thought she had none?
By episode 8 I was so thoroughly confused there was not an inch of me that felt I should have worried about it. I'd be interested now to look back over the debates between adults and kids at school now that I've watched it. But, it doesn't feel like it deserved the acclaim it got. It felt more like watching 'Scream' from the 90s without the actual entertainment. It was a concept that could have been a fabulous way to reach out to kids but instead, it gripped them and wasted 13 hours of their precious lives. It was so disappointing that I can't even say that it was irresponsible, it was just stupid. I'm almost tempted to say that the whole thing felt like it had been written by a privileged middle aged white man - it probably was.
One thing I hope that comes of all this is that although we've got off to a bumpy start maybe, just maybe the next round will be more effective. Maybe just maybe, someone with more insight, more clarity and more understanding of the subject will pen a script worthy of the pain of depression. Worthy of the pain of losing someone to suicide and worthy of being influential enough to change the lives of our kids now for the better. Until then, if you're like me and have been putting off watching it, don't bother.
I took one for the team.
At ease xx