I just watched 13 reasons why. I heard so many positive things that I felt I needed to check it out. Honestly, I don’t think anyone needs to see this bullshit. But I’ll explain why – there will be spoilers so if you care, don’t read ahead.
It completely reinforces for me why I hate the world we live in today. The story is very poor and simple. It is whiney and deplorable. When I grew up we all had hard times and bad stories; being poor, molested, bullied, mistreated, misunderstood, etc. But we all kept moving forward and found our character shaped by these adversities. But now it seems instead of the world can suck – it’s just MY world sucks. MY anxiety, MY hassles, MY problems, all me. I have no empathy for any of the core characters, definitely no empathy for the girl that kills herself, which starts the story, but my god, especially no empathy for the lead guy who has no confidence but gains enough to throw others into upheaval over the sadness he feels over not being able to have been stronger with her, blah blah blah. It’s so boring.
Before I continue, a couple of positives real quick: The show is well made. Good camera work and so on. Great acting from most of the cast, pretty consistently. Even though this is a show for “young adults” it doesn’t hold back on violence, sex or profanity, which I think is great. Real life is uncensored, so I prefer this outlook. They also handle a few scenes very well. The rape scenes and suicide sequence especially are the most “real” shot sequences, given a bit of weight and realism. To heighten the horror of them, and I know a few chicks who will likely cry their eyes out at the suicide. And… That’s about all the positives I can muster.
Indie garbage music has really found its niche in these sad teenager stories. It’s like everyone is sucking Elliot Smith’s dead teat dry every episode. The central conceit mystery falls apart as it goes – you need escalation as a story continues, but when you position your time line the way they have, with this inner cabal of people who feel responsible, they all clearly would have turned on one another much earlier, one of the characters late in the show even calls question to the elephant in the room: “Hey all I did was say she had a nice ass in a magazine, this other dude has RAPED MULTIPLE WOMEN!” The disparity of their “crimes” doesn’t really give me the feeling they’d unionize in the face of this tragedy. Not to mention they are all young idiots.
Clay, the lead who was madly secretly in love with Hannah – the whiney attention seeking whore who can’t speak up in life, so she creates these self-serving tapes to destabilize the status quo from beyond the grave, leading the way to martyr herself; the show even going so far as to have several tearful endings of people complaining that no girl, child or boy should be made to feel the way she did, and oh the world will be a better place if we just pay attention to blah blah blah – does nothing but lie to everyone, complain, ignore his priorities and is completely obsessed with her – now that she is gone – wishing he could right the wrongs he did in life – the wrong being not getting laid?
The story telling is so poor, they keep him listening to the tapes (7 tapes, which takes him it seems about 2 weeks to listen to? Because as important as this quest is to him, he really wants to beat Uncharted 4 so he has to pick and choose his times) because his name is on one of the tapes, so he HAS to keep listening in order to find what horrible thing he did – When they DO reveal his tape, naturally she explains that his name is on the tapes because he’s ONE person who DID NOT deserve to be on the tapes. Because he was the one good guy…
So Hannah, what happened to you? “Well, a guy lied to his friends that he fingered me, when all we did was kiss. And a girl I wanted to be friends with is a lesbian and my stalker who photographs me in my bedroom late at night saw us and sent the photo around and now she won’t hang out with me and I’m lonely but everyone just wants to sex me except the obvious guy who cares about me, who I just lead on constantly because I’m a girl and its what we do to guys who lack confidence because its hilarious and you can’t not do it, and then my parents are losing money and its real depressing and I’m super lonely and this other girl is jealous of me because I got told I have a nice butt and that’s depressing, and also a gay dude printing my poem without my consent, and everyone really loves the poem and raves about it which of course makes me feel even worse because I’m lonely and feel hurt that he betrayed me by getting me critical acclaim – and if all that wasn’t bad enough, I also got raped in a hot tub by a guy who a week earlier I saw rape my friend, but I didn’t tell her, him, her boyfriend, their friends, my parents, the school or police about. So, I don’t know. Karma?” Hmmm… Lead with the rape. She’s whiney, whiney, whiney – then whoa. OK, fair cop. I’d complain about that one.
Though again, must say – Karma.
But here goes the best part. HE FAILED HER. Because after months of him Michael Cera-ing her into bed, they finally wind up making out and even though “she wants it so bad” she suddenly thinks about how everyone else except this guy is a total dick head to her, so she pushes him away. He says sorry and asks if she is OK. He asks repeatedly if she is OK and if he can be there for her. She yells at him “GO AWAY, JUST FUCK OFF! GO AWAYYYYYY!” And so he listens and does. AND THAT WAS HIS MISTAKE. She says “WHY DID YOU LISTEN TO ME?! I NEEDED YOU. BUT INSTEAD YOU LISTENED TO ME AND RESPECTED MY WISHES! HOW DARE YOU!?”
Even better – a modern day subplot involves how her family, butt hurt over her dying and complaining that they hadn’t seen her depression and failed to help her, are suing the school over them being unable to see or prevent her being bullied or raped or whatever, leading to the inevitability that they will get over $200,000 in a deal from the school, which it’s said the school can’t afford, all because the school should have known better, and it’s happy ending the family gets because fuck taxpayers right? Because why should the parents be responsible for knowing their children when there is a school there with HUNDREDS of kids a few hours a day for half of the year, surely they should be more responsible for the wellbeing of these kids than their parents right? Yeah sue them, fuck everyone. God damn I hate those parents! – So just to make sure they have that happy ending they set up that the final tape is the school counselor who she HINTS at her problems to and he isn’t good enough at GUESS THE PASSWORD to see her problems and fix them. Going as far as to have her leave and then stand outside his office and say “I waited and stared at the door, and you needed to follow me, even though I told you not to, and he didn’t! WHY DOES EVERYONE LISTEN TO ME AND RESPECT MY COMMANDS?! God, kill myself.”
Don’t think the show is limited to poor storytelling, it is also riddled with clichés and coincidences to tie the story up in a nice bow for no reason. Just like real life! The worst offender: the lead with no balls confronts the rapist who staunchly says he never raped anyone, all women want to be fucked and then beats the kid and feeling good about having punched him, he agrees yeah man I totally raped her but it’s my word verses her being dead. Oh its OK, he did the old I secretly recorded the conversation with my bulky old tape recorder which is totally hidden at all times and despite having a microphone stuck in my back pocket – all audio is clearly perfect and discernible. Because we live in a sound studio. Thank goodness he’ll be punished. Whoa, for a second there thought someone might NOT be punished for their crime, would hate for that to remain unresolved.
Also, here goes a lapse in logic. A girl who knows all about the tapes – and defends them all the time as “Hannah and her lies” is revealed to have been raped – which she has professed was by her boyfriend – up until the reveal that he is also a little bitch and his friend kicked him out and raped his girl – which she slept through and had no feelings about, except that Hannah is a liar and it never happened. Despite weeks passing and EVERYONE in the group having heard not only this but also that Hannah had been raped by the same guy – no one thinks to mention this at all until the lead character confronts them weeks later and finally the boyfriend is like “yes I know! It’s horrible, OH WOE IS ME!” And the girl inexplicably has a flashback where she wakes up and says NO just to make sure it goes from being taken advantage of while drunk to full blown rape and she loses her shit over it. I’m not one to belittle the emotional impact or devastation rape causes. But the storytelling should match the emotion of the crime. If it doesn’t, then I don’t care. It doesn’t feel real enough and I can’t empathize. I’d rather feel sorry for a newspaper. At least those things, sadly, matter as they happened for real.
But in summation, my real problem with the show is that I’m not a normal person. I’m an arrogant apathetic asshole. So I say what I mean, mean what I say and don’t miss the chance to do so. Most of the emotional beats of this show follow on three themes:
- Life sucks and everyone should treat me better and it’s hard being a girl.
- Life is precious and no child or person should ever face adversity or pain or bullying and certainly not rape.
- Regret over not saying/doing what you should have when you had the chance.
I can’t relate to that. I don’t miss chances. And maybe some people will relate to this and feel good, but its hollow at best. HE feels better that he imagines what it would have been like to sweep her off her feet at the dance, whereas in reality during the dance he was a spaz and didn’t kiss her. “oh, if only I had!” or in that moment when “she needed him” but told him to fuck off and he foolishly took her at her word and listened to her, he gets to go back in time in his mind and tell her everything; I love you, you shouldn’t kill yourself, Star Wars is really overrated, etc. and she gets to say thank you. But it didn’t matter. She is dead, always will be and it’s just “so sad, that nothing can change that.” And this should never happen to any other person and lets not let it happen again.
I just don’t have the “remain positive, all life is precious” views that is required for a show like this. I am very pro-suicide. Pro-abortion. Pro-euthanasia. Etc. Far too many people on this planet. And if you can’t hack your anxiety, depression, gender, race, etc. Be strong and hang in there and do the best you can – or stop taking up all the resources and let them go to people who can push through the inevitable pain which is life. Go ahead and kill yourself.
But hey, I’m a horrible person.
– Hank the Yank