13 Reasons Why can be one of those shows you sit down to watch and, after an episode or two, you begin wondering why you’re watching it … yet you can’t stop. Walking with Hannah through her experiences at Liberty High School is tragic and heartbreaking. A horrible lie follows Hannah through the last couple of years of her life and things only build off of one bully’s idiotic course of action. All the little things pile on into one big thing, until the final act against Hannah’s dignity and self-worth drive her to end the torture once and for all.
So why is 13 Reasons Why important? How could I find a show about suicide so compelling? Let me tell you, it’s hard to answer those questions. It’s so very hard to explain what I was thinking and feeling as I stayed up late into the night watching this show, needing to know what happened next. Needing to understand why the bright, funny, and seemingly happy girl Hannah Baker thought she had no other option than to kill herself.
Mixed with a parade of abuse, singular moments of happiness, and the ultimate assault that leaves Hannah empty inside, 13 Reasons Why is a dynamic story that had me gasping, crying, laughing, and furious at intervals. I know what you’re thinking. Laughing? Really? Well, let me tell you that’s how realistic this show was. Because Hannah’s life reflected reality–Hannah’s reality–in a way that translated perfectly to the screen. You can find happiness and laughter, even in the worst of times, but it doesn’t mean those split-second moments are big enough to overwhelm the darkness.
I suppose, in the end, that’s why 13 Reasons Why was so important to me personally. What Hannah went through, her struggles and fears, her feelings of worthlessness–that nobody cared enough about her to truly see what she was going through and do something to save her–it was all so familiar to me, it struck me to my very core.
Sometimes, the message behind a story like this can’t be explained. It can’t be articulated properly. Sometimes, you just need to see it for yourself and take from it what was intended. Everyone is here for a reason, and Hannah’s wasn’t to commit suicide and glorify an act that devastates the lives left behind. If you see glory in what she did, then you’re not looking at the full picture. Because while her death united kids at her school who had beforehand never been friends; while it wove strength and love between the individuals left behind who blamed themselves for what she did, it also left a hole in their hearts and lives that can never be filled by another person. And while the hurt will slowly fade as the years pass, Hannah’s choice will forever hang over them.
Suicide is not an option. This show depicted, with a subtle beauty, how this act can change and shape lives. How it devastates and destroys. How it locks people in fear. How things don’t get better with the loss, but worse. For her family, for her friends, 13 Reasons Why Seasons 1 & 2 showed how Hannah’s decision, and what she left behind, determined the actions of not only the good kids in her school, but the monsters as well.