So the new binge-watching craze: 13 Reasons Why. A book that I read a long time ago and now is causing incredible controversy. Official guidelines on how to address it with kids in schools, criticisms, praise, weird confusion over what era Tony is from. Let’s start off with a quick read who’s show reviews I typically enjoy.
Okay. Now, they make a lot of good points. I agree that there are many flaws. But first of all, so does every freaking show out there. When was the last time you saw a movie that depicted teenagers in a normal way? I mean, the high schoolers on Disney channel shows these days wear six inch heels and full makeup everyday. Let it go, people. It’s a movie.
Only barely mentioned in this review, but often brought up is the fact that this show is not appropriate for children. And it’s not. As is the case with most shows rated TV-MA. Which is the rating on this show. So let’s just put that to bed with a reminder that parents should be paying attention to what they let their kids watch.
Now, what really caught my attention was their criticism of the school. In particular, this sentence: “One girl kills herself and another boy with a perpetual cut on his forehead starts showing serious signs of mental illness and nobody does shit?”
Ah, but see this is incredibly realistic. And I know this how? I’ve seen it happen. I have a bit of experience in schools and they don’t do enough to address mental illness. Most people aren’t aware that they can receive free therapy through schools if they have a mental health problem that is impacting their education. Or even sometimes if they don’t. And schools don’t like to add therapy to their list of recommendations for kids because they don’t want to spend the time or money on it. I was once working with a girl who had been raped (it was reported previously), was truant, and had home life problems. She was showing signs of possible mental illness, including being disconnected from reality. When I told my supervisor my concerns, he brushed it off. A week later, she showed up to school high out of her mind and was subsequently sent to an alternative school for kids with emotional disturbance and other mental health needs. At a nearby school, a seventeen year-old student was gunned down in the parking lot after school and nothing happened to address it. Counselors held open office hours for students who wanted to talk and virtually no one took them up on it.
This is real life. A student can walk into a school and act like Clay Jensen did and the teachers and students will look away, or punish him for bad behavior. Schools are afraid to admit that there are deeper problems.
People are afraid of mental health problems and they don’t want to admit that they are real. That’s why it’s so easy to shake these kids and make a mess of them with some tapes blaming them for a suicide. Those kids didn’t kill Hannah. Hannah was killed by depression, which was aggravated by all the events she describes. But no one ever says that word: depression. They would rather put the blame on themselves than admit that Hannah had a mental illness.
And THAT is the silent message that 13 Reasons Why screams to its viewers.