Tuesday, April 25, 2017

13 Reasons Why Season 1 Review (SPOILERS)

Suicide. That's what I'll be talking about on this post today. This is a very heavy, sensitive subject for everyone and I'm going to do my best to be careful and sensitive in the process. The reason why I will be talking about suicide is because of Netflix's new hit show that's been making the rounds, that of "13 Reasons Why," a 13-episode TV show centered around a high school girl who commits suicide. Just before doing so, she creates a series of 13 tapes, each of them talking about one reason why she decided to commit suicide, with one individual on each tape being the main subject matter. Her goal with making the tapes is so that each of the people on the tapes will listen to them and then pass them onto the next person in a very secretive manner, this being essentially a revenge plot of sorts for her to get back at those individuals who ruined her life and led her to suicide. You can imagine with a subject matter like this that the show gets very deep and emotional, which is why I have to get my thoughts out in a blog post, even though I haven't been consistent with my TV show reviews. I had a love/hate relationship with this show from the moment I started, which continued through the finale, thus leaving me with a ton of thoughts that I need to get out. I'll start spoiler-free.

I actually didn't get the memo about this show immediately after its release in late March. I don't always follow the new big Netflix shows. But recently I've been watching quite a few crime drama documentaries that I find interesting. Doing so has caused Netflix to suggest a bunch of them to me that I looked through and selectively added to my list to watch when I had downtime. This showed up in that list with a 99 percent match to what I had been watching, whatever that means. Apparently Netflix has determined what shows I will and won't like, which is not always accurate, but I move forward with life despite it all. So anyways, I looked at the description and without doing much research, I just assumed it was a documentary about a real life girl who had committed suicide and left a series of tapes behind that someone decided to do a documentary on. That was a intriguing idea that sounded interesting to me, so I added it to my list and moved forward with my life with the idea that I might eventually get around to it. It was at that point where I started hearing a ton about this show, mainly on twitter actually, so I gave it a second look and this past weekend I started it up, quickly learning that I didn't have the ability to stop.

The reason why I mention the detail that I initially thought this was a real-life documentary is that when all is said and done, that would've been more interesting to me. Within the first few seconds when I realized this wasn't a documentary, I quickly went and actually did research on this. Not only was this not a documentary, but it also wasn't a dramatization of actual events that had happened. This was a work of complete fiction based on a book written like 10 years ago. Suddenly I was less interested in this fictional depiction of a girl committing suicide, but I decided to continue anyways, mainly out of curiosity. I also learned at some point that this was going to be a movie starring Selena Gomez before it eventually become a Netflix TV show. I mention that because when all is said and done, I think turning this into a movie would've been a much better idea, minus the Selena Gomez part as I doubt her ability to successfully pull off such a complex character as our lead character in this would have to be to make this work. But I envisioned a "Manchester by the Sea" style of movie involving around suicide that perhaps may have been loosely based on our last five episodes. That sounds like a movie that I would really want to see with the right cast and crew on board.

As is, though, I think we have a drawn-out TV series with way too much fluff and filler for its own good, that, despite its noble intentions, misses the mark in what they set out to do. I mainly blame the writing and story-telling for this. We have a whole host of cliché high school characters that all look way too old to be in high school and, for the most part, all look way too attractive. We also had a perfectly diverse set of main characters that were split almost evenly between race, gender and sexual orientation. I'm obviously not complaining at diversity. That's certainly a good thing. But it kinda felt a bit forced, like they were focused mainly on having a politically correct cast instead of accurately representing a normal high school. The whole attractive thing was more bothersome because that also didn't feel like an accurate representation of a real high school. When each character that played a big role was eye candy, that's a problem. The fact that most of these characters look closer to 30 than they do 17 is the most annoying. I didn't look up ages, but I didn't believe any of these actors were close to high school age. I get it that hiring real high school students is a tough thing for various reasons, but I've seen a lot of movies that do a better job of fooling me on this.

The point of this past paragraph is to set the stage for you before I dive into details of this show. The overall point if we're going to do a high school drama movie in the vein of "Easy A" or "Mean Girls" is that I should actually buy into the setting. I want to realistically believe that we are in a high school and I didn't get that vibe. It felt fake and forced. Which is a problem when we are discussing the subject of teen suicide, what we can do to prevent teen suicide, the horrors of suicide itself and what the aftermath of suicide is like for those left behind. That's why I liked the idea of an actual documentary, because that literally would take us into the mind of a person who committed suicide and the reasons behind why they did so that those of us watching can have a better understanding of suicide and how we can help someone who feels lost and alone. I would've also liked the idea of a "Manchester by the Sea" style of movie because, while completely fictional, that movie felt super real and helped me dive into the life of a family that was going through something super tragic. With "13 Reasons Why," I don't feel like a got a TV show that helped me understand suicide better. I felt like I instead got a drawn-out high school drama with good intentions that missed the mark.

In terms of acting abilities, I do think every character did a good job with what they were given. I saw a lot of potential in all of our "high school kids" in terms of their acting abilities as it made me want to see more of them in future movies or TV shows. I especially loved Dylan Minnette and Katherine Langford, who played our two main characters. The problem, though, is that I don't think the writing was on par with these characters. Except for perhaps Dylan Minnette, who played the character of Clay Jensen. He was written as a socially awkward protagonist, which is very realistic for a teenage boy. Him I bought. Katherine Langford, who plays Hannah Baker, the girl who commits suicide, was mostly good. As I said, I love her as an actress now and I think she did great with what she was given. But I have serious problems with how her character was written and what she did throughout the series. I thought she came off as too attractive and too likable while not selling the darkness and depression well enough. That sounds weird, yes, but when she becomes the school outcast, it makes no sense. She was bullied by our cast because it was written that way for our supporting characters, even though it made no sense for them to do what they did.

If this information is enough for you to get the overall feel of how I felt about this show and you want to call it good, then feel free to call this the final paragraph and move forward with your life. Ending things right here would make it the length of a normal review and would make this an essentially spoiler-free review. I can say in summary that this is a cliché high school drama TV show with cliché characters who do cliché things. This attempts to dive super deep into the subject of suicide, but is so cliché with the main cast surrounding this girl who committed suicide and her socially awkward friend Clay Jensen that was in love with her that I didn't buy into the realism of the situation. The creators of the show had noble intentions of showing the horrors of suicide, what often happens to those left behind and how we should treat everyone in order to help prevent suicide, but I don't think they do things real enough to really hit home their message and thus the aftermath of all this will potentially either make things worse worse or, more realistically, not help at all one way or the other. Movies such as "Easy A," "The DUFF" and "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl" touch on similar subjects in a high school drama setting in a less graphic way that end of being more effective.


And there you go. Call that a finished review if you want. But no, I'm not done with this show. I want to dive deep into spoilers and I want to do so on an episode by episode basis. I do this mainly so that I can get my thoughts out so that I can move on my life, otherwise I'll be stuck with all these thoughts in my head and won't know how to get rid of them. If you are in a mood to read and you've seen this show, or simply don't care about spoilers, then feel free to move forward with me. But I won't be offended if you don't. I won't touch on every detail, especially since I mostly didn't care about all the dumb drama happening in the present day, but I'm going to cover what I feel like covering. So let's get started.

Episode 1- "Tape 1, Side A"

The First Kiss

Subject of Tape: Justin Foley

The subtitles here aren't the actual titles of the episode. The real titles of the episode are what I have next to the episode numbers. The "Tape 1, Side A" stuff. I like those episode titles because they didn't spoil what happens in the episode like some shows do. I just created my own episode titles with the subtitles in order to help keep this spoiler review simple and organized. I hope they help.

But anyways, what we can call the inciting incident, the first reason that led Hannah to suicide, was this first kiss with Justin Foley, a character who proves to be fairly interesting when all is said and done, but is certainly anything but interesting in this first episode.

This is Hannah's first love if you will. And she wants is her first kiss to be something memorable, so her and Justin go to a random park at night and seem to have a great night and a great first kiss.

But Justin takes a picture up her skirt and texts it to Bryce, who then sends the picture out in a mass text to the whole school? Why? I don't understand this. First off, it seems like Justin was really into Hannah, so it doesn't make sense that he would take a picture up her skirt in the first place or that he would get away with doing so without her knowing right away, especially since there would have to be a flash in that dark night to get the quality of the photo he did, which would immediately anger her and thus he should've never gotten away with this.

Then I also don't understand why Bryce sends it to the entire school. Sure, Bryce is the biggest idiot in the school, who for some unknown reason is also the most popular kid at school, but at this point they have absolutely no reason to objectify her and bully her like this. In fact, she immediately gives off the persona that she is the cool, attractive girl that they instead should want to get to know, not someone to immediately send an up-skirt picture of to the whole school.

But OK, the purpose of this episode was to put in place that Hannah is now seen by the entire school as the school slut. That stereotype put upon you would be awful, especially undeserved. But the execution of us getting to that point was really bad. If you want a movie that does this particular subject of a girl given the stereotype of school slut, but executes it a lot better, watch the movie "Easy A."

Episode 2- "Tape 1, Side B"

Friend Drama

Subject of Tape: Jessica Davis

Oh boy. We follow up the story of episode of Hannah becoming the school slut with this episode. She is forced into a friendship with Jessica that for some reason works out, despite them being opposites of each other with no chemistry. Then they adopt Alex into their group after catching him staring at one of them and suddenly they are a dynamic trio of friends.

For like five minutes.

Before long, Alex and Jessica abandon Hannah because they fall in love, leaving Hannah lonely. The formation and destruction of this trio happened so fast that it felt kinda choppy. Then Alex and Jessica break up and Jessica blames Hannah. Then at some point Jessica gets angry and slaps Hannah, which would make anyone upset.

But this is all typical high school drama that I found boring and choppy. Again, the idea of gaining a friend and then having that friend become angry at you and throw blame your way is upsetting. But I thought the execution was poor. A theme that you will see continue throughout all of this.

Episode 3- "Tape 2, Side A"

The List

Subject of Tape: Alex Standall

The list is a recurring theme throughout the series that stands as one of the main reasons that drove Hannah to suicide. Much of it is like the mass text of the up-skirt photo of Hannah. The whole school sees the list and the whole school is making fun of Hannah for it.

This list is started by Alex after he was upset with all the previous episode's drama and it comprises of one of those yearbook-style "best of class" lists. Alex decides to vote Hannah as best butt, which then makes her self-conscious because everyone is making fun of her butt, staring at her butt and in some instances grabbing or slapping her butt.

If that actually happened to someone, yes, that would be upsetting. I just didn't buy this as realistic drama. Playing onto the drama of the first episode, why is it that no one saw this and rolled their eyes? Why did no one decide to stand up for a very likable girl? Why was Hannah the only person in the school upset at this? If you had a small group of morons who got pleasure in this, then fine. But it never felt like a realistic situation where everyone made fun of her butt because of this list or that everyone now considered her a slut because of a picture that realistically never would've been sent out in the first place.

This is the reason why I keep using the word cliché. These didn't feel like real high school characters. They all felt like cliché high school characters who bullied a likable girl for no reason outside the fact that it was written that way in the script. I felt no realistic high school drama in the midst of all these cliché characters.

Episode 4- "Tape 2, Side B"

The Stalker

Subject of Tape: Tyler Down

How about we dive into another problem? Why is it that none of our characters care about crime committed? At the point in the present day, Clay is the 11th person listening to these tapes and they all listened to Tyler's tape and have now learned that he is perhaps the creepiest psycho in the school that takes pictures of everyone and everything using the justification that he's taking pictures for the yearbook.

No. Just, no. Yet no one cares to start an investigation or report what he's doing. Instead they just get revenge by throwing rocks into his window or, in Clay's situation, taking a nude picture of Tyler and texting to everyone in the school, which they again all decide to laugh at instead of being concerned. Not one person in the school would report voyeurism to the school? Not even Hannah and Courtney? And not one person would report Clay's mass text of nude Tyler? These are unrealistic events that bother me.

But that's not all in this episode. We then dive into Courtney, one of the most annoying girls in this show. There's no real arc or progression for her. She's just the nicest girl in the school in the first four episodes and then suddenly the meanest, most annoying girl once Clay learns her purpose in all of this. She goes from white to black without warning. Even in the flashbacks. Because apparently she never did anything wrong and never lied to her two dads until the night where she decided to help Hannah catch her stalker, which turned into make out session that distracted them enough to forget what they were doing.

When Tyler sent out the photo of them making out, why again was no one concerned about how he got this private picture of two girls in a bedroom? And why did everyone immediately go into mocking mode instead of having at least a small minority stand up for this wrong?

I don't understand. Again, the idea of a high school girl getting the reputation of being a lesbian when she isn't after being seen as the class slut, rejected by her friends and being made fun of for the way her butt looks would send someone into a dark place. But the execution of all this was so bad that it had me reeling. Since each of these episodes was 50 minutes long, I really wanted to stop, but the way the show is set up is done so in a way that makes it so you half to keep going, especially since the promise of something deep and serious is always on the horizon.

Finally, at this point should I bring up the idea of using suicide as a means for revenge? That hasn't sit well with a lot of people and this is the episode is where it really begins. Hannah throws a rock into the window of someone who contributed to her committing suicide, then tells everyone to do the same on the tapes, which they follow, successfully shaming this kid and sending him to a very dark place. Not the best message to be sending to viewers.  

Episode 5- "Tape 3, Side B"

Winter Formal

Subject of Tape: Courtney Crimsen

This episode is actually kinda forgettable. It's a Part 2 to the whole Courtney story line that begins the episode before and I may have actually covered much of it already. After the aforementioned photo of Courtney and Hannah making out gets out the school, Courtney gets destroyed. This is actually a decently emotional side arc with Courtney being too afraid to admit to herself that she is gay and accepting that. But they don't do enough with that to make me happy. Instead Courtney just transforms into the wicked witch of the west by throwing Hannah under the bus instead of accepting responsibility. Then in the future she is the angriest one of the bunch of them when they are discussing what to do with Clay and the tapes towards the end.

On a happy note, this is also where good things happen in the show. The Clay and Hannah romance begins to develop. He likes her a lot and she really likes him, but neither really know what to do about it because he's socially awkward and has no experience with romance and dating while she is unsure at this point exactly how she feels about him.

More on this in Clay's episode, but I really connected with this because in high school I was a lot like Clay when it came to girls and romance, so I felt for him.

Episode 6- "Tape 3, Side B"

One Dollar Valentine 

Subject of Tape: Marcus Cole

Another episode where I actually appreciated the budding, awkward romance. Hannah is realizing when she is filling out the silly form that she really likes Clay, but isn't confident enough about it at this point to make a move at this point. Plus, she's waiting for him to do something, but he certainly isn't ready to make a move even though he really wants to. This leads to that awkward moment in the theater where she is essentially begging Clay to save her from Marcus and I was yelling inside at Clay to man up and make the move.

But he doesn't. And that felt like the most real high school moment in this show.

Then we transition from that to one of the most unreal high school moments. Because Marcus, who seems like a really nice guy, has asked Hannah on a date and is purposely an hour late. But Hannah waits there for an hour? I mean, she didn't want to go on a date with him anyways. She should've only waited 15 minutes tops. But then Marcus finally arrives and pretty soon advances on her because he thought she was easy.

Oh yeah. Because she is seen as the school slut for a dumb reason that I discussed in the first episode. This very much feels out of character for Marcus. They just turn him into another cliché high school character who decides to bully Hannah because the script demands it even though it didn't make any sense for his character.

Of course Hannah has every reason to feel broken and upset if this happens. It just feels like an unrealistic moment for the sake of juicy plot details. But then we end with Zach Dempsey being nice to Hannah with Hannah just lashing out at him. That was rude of her.

Episode 7- "Tape 4, Side A"

Positive Notes

Subject of Tape: Zach Dempsey

Which leads us to this episode. Zach Dempsey's tape. Now I've read a lot of people's opinions saying that Hannah was a whiney, annoying drama queen and thus they don't feel empathy for her. I disagree with that. Especially since when you are sent to a dark place in your mind, you don't necessarily make the most logical, rational choices. It's not fair to get angry at someone like this and not have any empathy. That said, this is one of the episodes where I was NOT on Hannah's side.

Hannah is clearly someone who's experienced a lot of crap thus far. Even though it's cliché, unrealistic crap, it's still a bunch of crap. Zach is our 30-year-old high school kid who actually feels bad for Hannah. He walks up to her and is genuinely nice to her and tries to help her out. But what does she do? Yells at him and orders him to go away. I don't want to say she brought things on her self, but in her situation it made no sense that she would yell at someone who was actually trying to be nice to her.

I don't blame Zach for being angry. I get kinda annoyed, too, when I'm trying to genuinely be nice to someone and they push me away for no reason. But stealing those positive notes? That was cold and unnecessary. I think the writers again when a little too far in making Zach be mean.

I have heard some argue that stealing the positive notes is not a big deal and it shouldn't have been something that made Hannah upset. I disagree. Little acts of kindness like that go a long way for someone who is going through a dark period and taking that away from her is cold. It's one of the more brutal things that happen to her in the beginning of the show, I think.

Episode 8- "Tape 4, Side B"


Subject of Tape: Ryan Shaver

Am I sounding like a broken record yet? Poetry club. Hannah develops a trust for Ryan and learns to love poetry club, which causes her to write a deep, personal poem to share to the group and Ryan does a great job of helping her out with this poem. And do you know what? That was a dang good poem she wrote. I actually really loved it. It was very thought-provoking and deep.

But why in the name of tarnation would you steal someone's poem against their will and publish it anonymously it the school poetry magazine? That was a cold move. But more annoying for me was the fact that the very next day everyone suddenly has a copy of this magazine and is reading the poem and laughing? First off, no one really cares about school poetry magazines, so there's no way everyone in the school would have a copy of this magazine. Even if they did, there's absolutely no way that all of them would be laughing at this and mocking this. Again, this was a dang good poem! But why are the mocking it? Oh right. Because the script told them to.

Episode 9- "Tape 5, Side A"

The Party Part 1 - Jessica's Rape

Subject of Tape: Justin Foley

I mentioned in the first half of this review that I think this TV show would've been better as a "Manchester by the Sea" style of movie. I specifically mentioned in passing that I think if they did so it would've been best to adapt the final five episodes. Because the first eight episodes are mostly dumb, cliché nonsense. These final five episodes, though, are actually pretty dang good and *almost* knock the emotion and power out of the park. Almost the highlighted key word there.

This is also a good time to mention that this is not a show for kids. I've seen a lot of people say that they are worried what effect this show will have on their kids watching it. Well, my response is why in the living frack are you letting your kids watch this? This is the major problem with the MPAA culture we live in. PG-13 movies are always good. R rated movies are always bad. Black and white. No gray area. I hate it. What I hate even more is the fact that less monitoring happens with TV shows. This doesn't have an MPAA rating, so it's good for kids? It's a TV show, so it's OK? Heck no. If this did have an MPAA rating it would be a very hard R. If you let your teenagers watch hard R, well... I'm not going to judge you. But if you don't, then you better keep this show far away from them because that's exactly what this is.

This is the episode that Hannah unfortunately witnesses Bryce raping Jessica when Jessica is drunk and asleep. No female nudity and no male frontal nudity. But a very graphic, on-camera depiction of rape that is disturbing. And super emotional. Hannah is in the room because of events that happen in Episode 11 as these three party episodes are told out of chronological order. This is something that I can legitimately see as emotionally traumatic for Hannah as not only does she witness Bryce raping Jessica, but she witnesses Justin, who is dating Jessica, allow it to happen.

My biggest question here is why is Clay, the 11th person to listen to these tapes, the first person to have a desire to do something? Why did Hannah not do anything in the first place? And why did a red flag not go up for anyone until Clay decides he wants to try to do something?

At this point, I'm also wondering how these tapes got past Justin without him attempting to destroy them. Justin is actually an interesting character because we dive into his background with his awful mom and her violent boyfriend. You can see why is cold-hearted and angry. And I actually bought him as a troubled character that I thought was going to kill Clay at the end of this show, finishing up our Romeo and Juliet theme with Clay and Hannah. That didn't happen, but I'm wondering why Justin passed these tapes on, knowing that they could potentially incriminate him.

All that said, this was a powerful, emotional episode, which is something this show had been lacking up to this point.

Episode 10- "Tape 5, Side B"

The Party Part 2 - Jeff's Crash

Subject of Tape: Sheri Holland

This was also a really good episode. The horror of the situation between Hannah and Sheri as well as the panic of not knowing what to do is something that I really bought. Yes, if you ever crash into a stop sign, the right thing to do is to call the police because awful things can happen exactly like the death of their friend Jeff when an intersection is lacking a stop sign that should be there. But for whatever reason, I bought the panic on Sheri's part when she knocked it over. It seems like something an immature teenage girl might do.

What I didn't really like is Sheri abandoning Hannah when they disagreed on what to do. When Hannah said they should call the cops, getting so mad that she leaves Hannah there is a really annoying, bratty thing to do. In the present, I do like that Sheri is one of the few characters who actually feels a sense of guilt for what she did instead of claiming that Hannah is lying and/or plotting revenge against Clay for being the only sane person in the school when he learns of these tapes.

Looking back on this, the death of Jeff might the one death that effected me the most in this show. I never really connected the dots that he wasn't in the present day and only in the flashbacks, so it actually caught me by surprise when he left the party and was killed in a car crash because of the dumb decisions of two teenage girls who knocked over a stop sign. That was super tragic and unexpected, especially since he was one of the non-cliché jocks who befriended Clay and did his best to help him and Hannah out.

Episode 11- "Tape 6, Side A"

The Party Part 3 - Romance 

Subject of Tape: Clay Jensen

This is the big episode that the whole show is building up to. What did Clay do to drive Hannah to suicide? That's the question that you ask from the start. For a while I actually thought that Clay's tape was going to be the final tape, but instead it's the third to last, which does make sense because then we have time to finish things off after Clay finally knows the truth about why he's there.

Looking back on this episode, there is one thing that doesn't make sense to me. Before Tony forces Clay to finally listen to his tape, Clay forces him to answer this question, "Did I kill Hannah Baker?" To which Tony finally declares, "Yes."

No! The right answer is no! And Hannah even says that herself. Clay did nothing wrong. She pushed him away and was super harsh on herself about it. Clay didn't belong on these tapes, she admitted, but she included him because she wanted him to know the truth about how she really felt about him, which is extremely tragic and emotional.

However, out of all the regrets in this show, Clay's is the one that hits home the most. He didn't kill her. She pushed him away because of emotionally trauma she was going through. But as he is reminiscing over what he could've done better, if he had stood his ground and confessed his feelings at some point, that could've helped her. But in the moment he was totally justified in what he did because she yelled at him repeatedly to get out. Which for a socially awkward kid such as Clay is really damaging and he was justified in his hurt the following days in pushing Hannah away when she attempted to come apologize. The specific moment that really hit me the hardest was the "La La Land" style scene where Clay is daydreaming on what could've been had he acted differently, which ended with dream Hannah saying, "Why didn't you tell me that when I was alive?" Ouch.

What I didn't like was Hannah's reaction once her and Clay were about to make love there at the party. She knows Clay is different than the rest. She knows he is genuinely a good person. And I get that she reacted out of trauma, but still it didn't seem to make sense to suddenly go so cold and start yelling at the kid to go away and push him out of her life when she knows he did nothing wrong.

I also think that if this show wanted to go with the realistic route of Hannah being driven to suicide that Clay actually should've done something that pushed Hannah away without fully realizing exactly what he had done. That would've had more emotional gravity in my opinion given that Clay was Hannah's final hope. Having him push her away would've been more tragic in my opinion rather than her pushing him away when he did nothing to deserve it. That's why I didn't fully buy into this episode, but for the most part it really worked for me.

Episode 12- "Tape 6, Side B"

Hannah's Rape

Subject of Tape: Bryce Walker

Out of all the episodes in the show, this is the episode that effected me the most. This is the episode that will stick with me. Up to this point, I've had a lot of complaints about all the events that Hannah pointed in her tapes that drove her to suicide. Most of people's treatment of her felt forced and cliché rather than realistic and her lashing out at Zach and Clay also didn't feel super realistic. This episode felt real. Almost a little too real. This episode alone may have justified why she decided to commit suicide.

The one problem that I do have with this episode that I will get out of the way at the beginning is why in the heck did Hannah go anywhere near Bryce's place? It seems like shortly after witnessing him brutally rape Jessica that she would stay far away from him and his house. But that's more of a nitpick. I'm definitely not blaming her for her being raped. That's a big problem in today's rape culture with us blaming the victim for them being raped. I'm just saying that in a screenwriting sense, which this TV show has a ton of problems with, they could've done a better job at setting up this scenario.

With that out of the way, I think this episode was extremely effective at showcasing what girls might be going through when they get raped and how it ruins their lives. Not that I'm in a position to relate to that, but I'm just saying that's what it seemed to me. In fact, those who have gone through something like this should probably stay far away from this episode as I can imagine that it has the potential to dig up some awful memories. Thus I don't know if it was extremely necessary to show Hannah getting raped on camera, but it's a scene that completely destroyed me emotionally. Even though this is a show that severely lacks good writing, Hannah is a girl that I still had an emotionally attachment to through all of this. Being that she said this was the worst day of her life in the tape, you knew something awful was going to happen, but then to slowly see people leave the pool to the point where it was just her and Bryce suddenly filled me with dread.

The rape itself only showed Hannah's face and her reaction, but that's all that was needed to deliver the emotional punch. Watching her go from fighting Bryce to giving up and submit to being raped was hard. I could see the life and desire to live completely leave her soul and it tore me apart.

Then we contrast that by Clay approaching Bryce about this and forcing him to confess. His lack of empathy towards women was disgusting. He seemed ignorant towards what rape actually was and tried to justify his actions by downplaying the seriousness of the situation and claiming that all girls want to be raped by him if what he did was considered rape. Again, I'm not an expert in this area, but I can guess that this mindset is probably a lot more true to life than it should be, thus I think this show with this episode combined with episode 10 was probably a lot more effective at attacking the current rape culture than it was addressing teen suicide.

Episode 13- "Tape 7, Side A"


Subject of Tape: Mr. Porter

We've made it. The grand finale of this show. The moment where everything that Hannah has gone through finally leads her to commit suicide. There's a lot to say about this finale, but the first thing that I will say is that it seems like creating these tapes was therapeutic for her. Instead of committing suicide, it may have been possible for her to actually recover mentally and move forward helping others who have had suicidal thoughts. May have that been a more effective way to end this show? A bit of re-writing to go that direction could've been much better, perhaps only focusing on the past so that we don't know exactly how things are going to wrap up.

Of course we all know that's not what happened. But that's usually the direction these shows or movies go and perhaps there's a reason for that. Instead, though, after an emotionally powerful episode with Bryce raping her, the final straw is broken for Hannah after visiting with the world's worst counselor. Seriously. World's. Worst. Counselor. Ever. I'm not a professional counselor and I'm not the best at knowing what the appropriate things to say to a suicidal person is, but it's certainly not anything close to what Mr. Porter says to Hannah. She basically confesses to him that she is suicidal without using those exact words and his reaction absolutely infuriated me. It exemplified to me everything that is wrong with the show. The writing is so bad and so unrealistic. No counselor would ever say those words to a person that entered their office and I hated every second of those scenes.

Then we have our actual suicide scene that has rightfully gained a lot of controversy due to them showing the suicide on screen. We sit there and watch as Hannah turns on the bathtub, sits in it and slits her wrists. A lot of people have a lot of opinions on why this is a poor decision for this show to make. The makers of the show justified it because they wanted to portray suicide as a horrific event. I get those intentions. But they didn't need to show the suicide. My reasoning is that it was way too graphic. I don't ever need to watch a girl slit her wrists. They could've done more implying because we all get it. And it hurts my wrists every time I think about it.

The other thing that bothered me about the finale is that they left a lot of loose ends in the present. I wanted to see Bryce arrested and thrown into prison. I wanted to see the courts come down hard on the school. I wanted people to figure out that Tyler is a psychopath who is hiding a bunch of guns. I wanted to see what Justin is planning on doing with his gun. I wanted more explanation as to why Alex shot himself in the head and if he survived or not, because it left us on a cliffhanger of him being in critical condition.

But I wanted to see all of that settled in the first season. I don't want a second season. But I feel that's exactly what they are setting up. But why? The purpose of the book and of this show is to explain to us why Hannah committed suicide and now that we learned all of that, what would be the purpose of continuing the story?

Final Thoughts

That about does it. Yes, I skipped most of the present day stuff and focused on the flashbacks and reasons why Hannah committed suicide. Again, my reasoning there is that I really thought most of the present stuff was dumb. You thought I complained a lot about the flashbacks, just wait until you hear me rail on all the present day stuff. Which I'm not going to do, by the way. Let's just say that almost none of it was interesting. I think this show would've been much better if they had stayed in the past. But even then, as you can tell, the first eight episodes of this show were pretty bad. The final five episodes did a good job and almost redeeming this show, but that finale derailed everything for me. There's good moments in this show. There's good intentions from the cast and crew that put this together. But in the end, I think they missed the mark and looking back at this, I'm upset that I got sucked into this show. But at the very least I can help advise others who haven't got sucked into this show to steer clear and go watch one of those movies that I suggested, like "Easy A," "The DUFF" and "Me and Early and the Dying Girl." They are all far superior to this show and will only take two hours of your time.

Yet I know many will disagree with me, which is why I would love to hear your reactions if you have already watched this show. I don't expect a response as long as mine, but if you loved this show, please feel free to tell me why and if you were even harsher on this show and think that it sends the wrong message and may incidentally increase suicide, I would also like to here that. I mean, I'm just a single guy in his late-20's trying to understand the world and giving his personal opinions, so I would honestly love to hear more from you!

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