Does 13 Reasons Why Romanticize Suicide?

Here’s a question that has been popping up all over the internet. One of Netflix’s latest, tackles themes that are serious and pertinent to everyone. Whether the series approach to themes such as bullying and suicide is adequate, is something that many are currently writing about. Do these claims of romanticizing such serious issues, ring true?

My first reaction to the series was overwhelmingly positive. While it has its fair share of teenage drama, 13 Reasons Why manages to remain engaging from beginning to end, and when all is said and done it delivers an important message. Before, you grab your pitchforks and torches, let’s talk about teenage drama.

Teenage drama is often associated to series who could easily become soap operas. The likes of Vampire Diaries, One Tree Hill, The O.C all fall victim to unnecessary and unrealistic drama. The O.C has a special place in my heart, however I cannot deny that the cheese was strong in that one. These shows approached addiction, violence, suicide, you name it, with different degrees of seriousness.

It is rather surprising to see 13 Reasons Why receiving such criticism, perhaps the reason behind it is that it inverts the formula of teenage drama. Making serious topics such as rape and suicide more than accessories to the plot, 13 Reasons Why puts itself in a different category, which comes with its own demands. While there is plenty of romance and teenage drama, there is nothing romantic about any of the rape or suicide scenes. They are difficult to watch and cringe worthy in the worst way possible. I find it bold, that the producers were ballsy enough to go with it and show the consequence of different factors in play.

I won’t deny that 13 Reasons Why could be more serious, or take a different approach. However, at any time did I feel that the series was glorifying or romanticizing all the heavy themes it tackles. Yes, it uses certain storytelling tropes that are appealing to teenagers and includes the mandatory hip soundtrack but, at its core 13 Reasons Why has an important message.

Even smallest action can have a big impact.

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