13 Reasons Why Has Stirred Up More Controversy Than Most Netflix Shows
The latest binge-tastic series from Netflix has been met with more controversy than most shows from the streaming service. 13 Reasons Why is based on the 2011 novel from Jay Asher, Thirteen Reasons Why.
13 Reasons Why deals with the suicide of Hannah Baker, played by newcomer Katherine Langford. Clay Jensen, played by Dylan Minette, was a classmate of Hannah’s and worked at the movie theater with her. He was also a lot closer to her than he lets his parents believe. Jensen mysteriously receives a box of tapes on his porch.
“Hey, It’s Hannah”
After acquiring a way to play the tapes. Clay hears the voice of his former crush in his ears.
“Hey, it’s Hannah, Hannah Baker. Settle in because I’m about to tell you the story of my life. More specifically why my life ended. And if you’re listening to the tape, you’re one of the reasons why.”
Clay isn’t the first person to hear the tapes. He also isn’t the only person featured on the tapes. Listening to the tapes will send Clay on a journey through Hannah’s memories. The journey will lead him to places around town and have serious consequences for everyone involved.
But what is on Clay’s tape? What did Clay Jensen do?
I’m not to that part of there series yet. I think I am through episode seven. In case you don’t remember back to the days of the cassette tape, they have two sides. The thirteenth and final episode in season one is titled “Tape 7, Side A.” That’s the thirteenth “tape.”
Katherine Langford As Hannah Baker
Hannah Baker’s story had quite the journey itself from book to the screen. The story was originally purchased by Universal Studios back in 2011 with plans for a feature film. Selena Gomez was set to portray Hannah Baker. Then, in 2015 the Netflix series was announced with Gomez shifting to the role of executive producer. She is one of seven executive producers listed in the credits along with Anonymous Content and Paramount Television.
The series itself has been well-received by critics. Vanity Fair praised the casting of Langford and Dylan Minnette as well as the overall visual genius of the series.
Gomez and the other producers of the show have to be pleased that the casting of Langford has been well-received.
While Asher was in love with the idea of Gomez playing Baker originally and Gomez was in love with playing the role, it was decided that Selena wouldn’t be right for the role in the Netflix series.
Selena Gomez has seen her career change dramatically in the last six years. In 2011, Gomez was best known for starring in Wizards of Waverly Place on The Disney Channel.
Katherine Langford was a relatively unknown actress from Perth, Australia before being cast in the Hannah role. Her Instagram following has increased from 1,500 followers before the show debuted to 3.4 million now.
Buzzfeed recently uncovered Langford’s dormant YouTube channel where she posted videos of herself singing several original songs back in 2013.
How Does 13 Reasons Why Treat Teen Suicide?
The subject matter has created controversy around the world, however. The New Zealand Office of Film and Literature created a whole new censorship category to warn people about watching 13 Reasons Why. Banner Health, an Arizona health care provider, has issued a warning to parents about letting their children watch the series. Locally, the Kirkwood School District sent a letter home recently to parents warning them about the series.
At issue is the claim that the series glamorizes teen suicide, a very serious issue. But does it? Alex Curtis addressed that question in an essay for Rolling Stone.
“Teen suicide is still the second leading cause of death for teens – over 5,000 kids attempt it every day in America – and we have to approach the topic as a society if we ever want to see those numbers fall. We have to educate faculty and adults about the negative power that social media has with regards to suicide and rape culture. Whether that means switching the curriculum taught in health class, or more importantly, teaching health class past ninth grade: something in the world needs to change. Every school should take advice from 13 Reasons Why and put up posters with free hotlines and counseling services in the hallways. Do school boards really need to watch a show to realize that, though?”
13 Reasons Why deals with very serious issues. Issues like bullying, cyber stalking, sexual violence and teen suicide are very real. The simple act of talking about them doesn’t glamorize them. There also isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to dealing with these issues.
Alisha Boe, who plays Jessica in the series, recently talked with The Hollywood Reporter and why she thinks the show does more good than harm.
It is shocking material and of course there are going to be people from both sides with opposing opinions. I’m just happy that there is an open conversation about it. We can’t just ignore it because it is happening every day. Now that it’s at the forefront of concerns, at least parents are more aware and want to talk to their kids. And kids are more self-aware watching the show to make sure they’re treating each other better. I was just in Brazil and the suicide hotline went up 100 percent. It is helping people more than it’s hurting people.
Neha Shah, writing in the New Statesman, says the series manages to be both sensationalist and reductive about its subject matter.
Even Curtis, a teen blogger who has been referred to as a “teen influencer and bullying expert” by several outlets, gives 13 Reasons credit in at least one area.
“However, there were some ways that 13 Reasons Why succeeded in portraying what it’s like to be in teen in 2017. While it might have glamorized suicide, it doesn’t glamorize the very serious downside the Internet can have on teenagers.”
13 Reasons Why deals with some very serious subjects. While it is based on a ficitonal event, it deals with events that do happen daily.
Will There Be A Season 2?
It’s very likely that 13 Reasons Why will get picked up for a second season by Netflix. How will they continue the show now that the tapes are finished? There are plenty of theories out there, but I don’t want to spoil the series for you.
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