Netflix series, 13 Reasons Why was based on the novel of the same title, by Jay Archer. There are differences between them, hence the expression “based on”, instead of, let´s say, “theatrical version”.
I have postponed the moment of watching this for a while. I have my own history of suicide attempts and this issue is painful to me, so I let it go for a while. However, I am someone who likes art and cultural products who challenge me, even if they cause me pain. You know, growing pains?
So a 17 y-o girl commits suicide and leaves a box with seven tapes recorded with 13 reasons who were somehow involved in her decision. The tapes are her voice, they express her frame of mind, her truth, her pains and hopes and despairs and describe the road that took her to her last moment.
I can tell what she might have felt if she had failed at her attempt, if her mother had arrived shortly after he lost consciousness, but not so late as not to make a difference. She would have been driven to the hospital, physically healed, she´d have had to face her parents, and even more scorn from other people, or reproach, she´d have had to take drugs and therapy, and no one would trust anymore, she´d have been branded, and felt like shit for a very long time. If nothing went wrong, she´d come out alright, high school would be over, lots of counseling, and she would eventually… move on.
Of course, she would have had to work a lot on the rape issue, and that is something I have never had to deal with.
Tell you what? Suicide is a bitch. It is Rome, and sometimes you feel that all roads somehow lead to it.
I am glad that I did not experience it during adolescence. I had other issues, so many problems I was sort of numbed by them. I did not have the time or energy to go that deep, although sometimes I flirted with the idea. Part of me felt that I was too young and something could still change in the future. I also did not have to deal with bullying. Or I did deal with it, shutting it out of my mind, and reacting violently to it, becoming more and more lonely and seeing loneliness as my happy place. I was bullied at home too, so I had no one but myself.
I told my son that teenagers feel everything too intensely, they wear their emotions on their sleeves, and that is simply wrong and pointless. You, me, everyone, we are completely irrelevant individually, and when considered collectively we disappear as subjects, therefore why should we consider anyone particularly deserving of hate, love, trust, friendship, admiration, anything that strongly? No one, not even ourselves deserve that kind of, why, devotion. You see that girl? I don´t need her and she doesn´t care. Or if she does, does it matter? Do I really know her? Should I know her?
Nobody is exceptional, we all have qualities and flaws, some are more socially appraised, others less, so what?
Do you know what happens? People grow older and life changes, and it will still suck, only it will suck for other reasons, and it might not be as bad as in your teen years, and one day you will realize that you´ve made it one step forward, and it will feel good.
See that guy who was the most handsome in school? He poops, and farts, and drools, and spits, and sweats and has bad breath in the morning. He will grow wrinkled like all of us. Trust me, after 50, there is a big chance that things will change for all of us, drastically, and before that you will start to see those changes coming.
Yet, some of us are damaged so deeply by life, not just adolescence, that suicide is a constant thought, and depression the most constant companion, and I am among these people, hence my resistance to that series. One would think I should bash the script, or say they should have been more careful with it. Well, I think they were careful to excess and could have been more brutal in order to portray the hell we experience, but they did just fine for the broader audience, and considering so many teens will have access to it, they did just fine.
I can only praise the casting and the direction, cause they were sensitive and not so out there. The soundtrack is nothing but perfect, and in resembles that of another good coming of age movie, which also deals with suicide and abuse, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, cause it works as a perfect subtext.
Kid who plays Clay was good, and that was a difficult character, cause he gets to our nerves for being slow, emotionally stunted, not very smart to read people around him, in spite of his kindness and moral compass. It was also good that they did not choose a slim girl to play Hannah, and chose instead a girl with a beautiful face and a body with some curves and an average weight, so she would not never be the cheerleader type, but not ugly, and the actress did convey the drama of the character very well.
The adults in the show seemed to inhabit a different world. Do those suicide prevention programs really use that kind of clinical language when reaching out to kids? You don´t talk about resources, you don´t act like that school counselor, that I know! Kids need to feel that whoever is talking to them is on the same wavelength and not simply trying to get rid of a problem. They are tired of being a problem or a weight on someone else´s shoulders. Instead of keeping a desk between them, the counselor should have moved to sit on the chair beside her, instead of talking about pressing charges and moving on, he should have asked her pointedly to talk to her parents, inquire about her relationship with her parents, because she´d need them in order to “move on” or press charges, and to seek professional help of therapists and/or lawyers, and he, as a professional, needed her authorization to contact them instead of letting her walk out his office like that.
On the other hand people might give very subtle signs of suicidal planning and fool experienced professionals, I did it to my shrink on my second attempt, cause I was decided and on that particular crisis my internal bubbling was more intense than the other times, so I changed my pattern. The character in the series was a textbook case, though, she pointedly stated her intentions and gave him the causes, and said she had to set some things in order.
Her parents… were so involved on his own problems that tended to not notice her daughter´s distress. High school is difficult, so what? As a mother I am a bit more invasive than a helicopter parent and although it does not guarantee anything, I do my best to see my son. I am a psychiatric patient who has attempted suicide twice and ended in ICU once, I have to know better and watch my son closely, so he doesn´t end up like me. And my son and I talk about his problems at school, his feelings and anxieties, and those are not easy talks. His father is a psychologist and he´d rather talk to me than his father, according to him, cause I accept him more openly and don´t judge. How can I judge anyone? How can I add to his suffering knowing how that would hurt him? And I know it first hand.
A second season
The series ended with the kids depositions, Justin breaking up his friendship with Bryce and seeming to run from responsibilities, Jessica started to open up to her father an let him know what happened to her. the Bakers were starting to listen to the tapes, and Alex had put a bullet through his head, complicating matters worse for the school.
The viewers need some closure, at this point it feels as if the story has not being completely told, so I really hope that there is a second season. It deserves a closure.