If you are a relatively well informed person with a smart phone or a Facebook account, you have heard of 13 Reasons Why by now.
If you haven’t, I’m not going to explain it all to you, or give you the low down on how it has basically become this viral thing that every teenager, parent to a teenager, or person who works with and/or knows teenagers is talking about.
But a brief summary from the people at Wikipedia: “13 Reasons Why is an American drama-mystery web television series based on the 2007 novel Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher and adapted by Brian Yorkey for Netflix. The series revolves around a high school student, Clay Jensen, and another student, Hannah Baker, who committed suicide after suffering a series of demoralizing circumstances, brought on by select individuals at her school. A box of cassette tapes recorded by Hannah before her suicide details thirteen reasons why she ended her life.”
It comes to us courtesy of Netflix and stands out as one of their most memorable, and meaningful Originals to date.
If you don’t have a teenager, you should watch it.
Because it is good.
If you do have a teenager, you should watch it.
Because it is important.
Many say that if you have a teenager, you have to watch it, for better parenting purposes.
I kinda have to agree.
Here’s why 13 Reasons Why should be on your must watch list.
And don’t worry, I’m not going to give you 13 reasons -I think 5 should be enough.
5 Reasons Why Every Parent Should Watch 13 Reasons Why
Reason #1: It is real.
Not as in based on real events, or a true story. Just, real. As in, this is what some real life teenagers are facing on a daily basis. Sometimes it’s not so dramatic, sometimes it’s not so impactful, but always it is there. In the background, in the forefront, all around. They are hearing about it, they are hiding it, they are trying to ignore it and failing. Sometimes they are able to avoid it because it doesn’t hurt them, or because it doesn’t hurt them badly, or because it doesn’t hurt their friends. But it is still there, touching them, passing them in the hallway, whispering in the bathroom, threatening to attack them too.
And what is it?
I honestly don’t even know what to call it, and it’s not that foreign or hard to relate to, it’s just different now. And more aggressive. Harder to spot and almost impossible to stop. Because the Internet hides it, makes those who engage in it anonymous, and keeps them safe.
But, remember in high school, there was that girl that everyone said stuff about?
No one had proof, but everyone had theories.
People talked behind her back, people stared, even your parents didn’t want you hanging out with her.
But not a lot came of it.
Now, those same unprovable rumors and whisperings are provable, or at least easier to perpetuate and infect.
You don’t even have to be sneaky about it, because you can be anonymous.
You don’t have to lose your status as the nice jock or the outgoing cheerleader, you can be who you are in public and then be a monster behind the scenes, and you never have to face it.
Your parents don’t have to know. Your teachers don’t have to know. No one has to know, but you and the person you’re hurting.
That’s why it sucks.
Reason #2: It is important.
Because as parents, we need to understand how this happens. Why this happens. How this can happen to good girls, who are smart, and pretty, and normal, and fun.
How sweet, nerdy, kind boys can be silenced into saying nothing when they know that they should.
And, equally important, how the people left behind feel.
What they have to struggle through when you choose to depart.
I wanted my boys to see this part. To know that what they, as teenagers, think the world is feeling or saying or thinking about them, is probably wrong. And, even if it isn’t, it’s not as important as it feels. It’s not as long lasting as it feels. It’s not anything like what they think it is like. And also, it’s not worth it.
Reason #3: It is well done.
It’s not cheesy or over high schooly. It is just high schooly enough that high schoolers will love watching it, but not so high schooly that you, as an adult, will want to tear your ears out and roll your eyes during every interaction.
The characters are deep -probably deeper than you think most of the high schoolers you know are capable of pulling off.
You understand them. You feel for them. You want to hug them. And you may even remember being some them. Sometimes they make you angry. Like kick their balls off angry. But, even then, you have to step back and think, what if that were my child?
Honestly, Clay, the main male character reminded me an awful lot of my son. So much so that, in parts, I couldn’t watch without tearing up.
That is how well done it is.
Reason #4: It is intense.
It makes you feel. And think. And feel some more. Like what if this hadn’t happened, or what if this happened instead. And is this real? Is this what real young people, like the ones living in my home, are facing? I can’t even imagine. I can’t imagine having to deal with all of this as a kid.
And the lying, the hiding, the sneaking, the pressure.
The idea that young people are dealing with this type of stuff while the adults in their lives are clueless and oblivious, or in denial, weighs on you.
It makes you question so many things about what you say, what you hear, what you do, and what you think when you’re interacting with your kids and their friends.
It makes you work harder to not be oblivious, or clueless, or in denial.
Reason #5: It is appropriate.
When I first started watching I thought, hmmm, can my middle schooler watch this? They drop a few f-bombs, the themes are intense, the content is mature. It is clearly rated for those older than 17 (even though the majority of the characters are not older than 17).
But, you know what, my middle schooler is living this, or beginning to anyway.
He is seeing things in his social feeds that are shaping the person he is becoming. He is hearing boys say things about girls when I am not around to decode them. He is being exposed to things I can’t always know he is being exposed to.
So 13 Reasons Why is an opportunity.
It can open the door to rooms you want to be in if your kids are in them.
And they are, or they will be, and then they would be up in there alone without any guidance or any idea what to do other than what everyone else in that room is doing. And we all know you don’t want a bunch of 12 year olds or 15 year olds leading anyone anywhere.
Important note: If you are a victim of bullying or sexual assault, have had suicidal ideations, attempted suicide, or have a loved one who has, 13 Reasons Why may be a trigger for you. I haven’t had any of those experiences in my life so my slate is different from yours. I have heard that it can be painful for some, however, and want to make sure you’re aware.
Disclosure: I am a member of the Netflix Stream Team and receive insider news, tips, and other perks for sharing their work with you!