The Newest Netflix No-Go

Jack Rittendale, features writer

“Thirteen Reasons Why” is the newest Netflix phenomenon. The show has been trending since its March 31 release date, and is currently at the top of Netflix “most popular” chart. Since the show’s launch, many have voiced their own concerns about the shows poor plot, poor character development and the lack of sensitivity in how they depict suicide. From what I’ve seen, people are either totally for it, or totally against it. And the reasons why should be of no surprise to either side.


The plot, even though it’s better than some of the other shows I’ve seen on Netflix (“Orange is the New Black,” I’m talking to you), can be hard to follow. This definitely isn’t a show you can take your attention away from. The change in setting and lighting is a cue that the plot is once again revisiting the past. With this constant shift in time, events are hard to keep in order. The main character, Clay Jensen, does his part to keep the timeline in order with a tiny detail: the scar on his forehead. If you see the scar, the show is taking place in the present. If the scar is gone, the show is giving you a glimpse into the past. Small details like this are easy to admire, but ends up being a struggle to keep up with in the long run.


Even without the shifting timeline, the narrator Hannah Baker tends to be unreliable. Like any high schooler caught in drama, details get over-exaggerated and distorted when retold. Hannah is no exception. While tapes seem to tell the truth, other characters disagree, repeatedly calling Hannah a liar. In real life, distorted details can be forgiven and can even be expected. Yet in the context of the show, having a narrator that doesn’t know what’s going on can make watching this a nightmare.


Hannah Baker might be described as a liar, but she is at  least a character I can sympathize with. The rest of the characters come off as cliche high school kids to be described only by stereotypes such as jocks and nerds, rebels and do-gooders. The high school cliche concept isn’t even what turns my stomach with this show. It’s the lack of good people. Even the supposed good guy, Clay, has his demons. It becomes more and more obvious that the root of his grieving for Hannah is his own lack of self-confidence. The remaining characters are even more self-centered considering they act out of fear that their closet full of skeletons might be in the public eye.


Suicide is the second leading cause of death among ages 15 to 34, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.The show depicts suicide as something that can happen only after traumatic events. By doing so, the show inadvertently discredits mental health issues. Also with a blatant disregard for triggering viewers, the risk of future suicide caused by this show is high.This means that the likelihood of a copycat suicide is extremely high. Reckless depictions of suicide such as this show is something that needs attention.
On Thursday at around 1 p.m. The district sent out an email discussing the content of 13 Reasons Why. The email urges parents to discuss the content within the show with their child as it is filled with very graphic topics. Overall the show isn’t the worst thing on Netflix right now. Nonetheless, the plot and unarguably explicit content are a definite downside. But if you’re in the market for a sappy teen drama then this might be the show for you.