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Katherine Langford stars in the new Netflix Original Series “13 Reasons Why” | IMDB

Joining the ranks of shows like “A Series of Unfor­tunate Events” and “The Handmaid’s Tale,” the tele­vision adap­tation of the book “13 Reasons Why,” by Jay Asher,  was released as a Netflix original series late last month. The show follows high school student Clay Jensen, played by Dylan Min­nette as he listens to 13 tapes left by his friend and crush Hannah Baker, played by Katherine Langford, who recorded them before she com­mitted suicide. In the tapes, Hannah addresses people she felt played an integral role in her decision to take her own life.

Although the show has quickly risen to pop­u­larity, it has also gar­nered protest from those that say it glo­rifies both suicide and mental health issues and por­trays them in an unre­al­istic way.

“13 Reasons Why” is a 13-episode, one-season series. Although rated mature, the show itself plays like a typical fluff high school movie —unre­al­istic and full of stereo­types. The stu­dents’ clothes are too nice, their cars are too expensive, and their homes are too big to reflect any­thing other than a rich suburb, although the show seems to want to mimic an average high school. All the jocks wear varsity jackets and the nerds are extra bookish.

In addition to most of the actors appearing older than high school age, with the exception of both Min­nette and Langford, who look closer to the appro­priate age, the show adds a thick layer of drama to every­thing. Brooding looks and heavy fore­shad­owing are spread throughout the episodes. Although it adds sus­pense, the entire show smacks of falsity.

One of the high­lights of the show, however, is how it weaves together the past and the present. The plot relies heavily on the use of flash­backs, and the show does a phe­nomenal job inte­grating them into the current events.

The pop­u­larity of the show is not without its problems, however.

“It seems to paint suicide as a way to get back at people, which is not very real­istic,” Director of Health Ser­vices Brock Lutz said in an email. “I’ve worked with many patients who have attempted suicide, and very few, if any, tried to kill them­selves to get back at others.”

Schools are issuing warnings about the graphic content of the show, which includes scenes of sexual assault and Hannah’s suicide.

“There is a copycat nature to these kinds of things,” Lutz said. “Friends or family members who have a close loved one who has com­mitted suicide are several times more likely to attempt suicide.  The same goes for those who watch extreme vio­lence; they are also more likely to attempt suicide.”

In a column pub­lished on Vanity Fair, however, Nic Sheff, the writer for episode six of “13 Reasons Why” said the show was “rel­evant and even nec­essary.”

“I saw the oppor­tunity to explore issues of cyber­bul­lying, sexual assault, depression, and what it means to live in a country where women are devalued to the extent that a man who brags about sex­ually assaulting them can still be elected pres­ident,” he said. “And, beyond all that, I rec­og­nized the potential for the show to bravely and unflinch­ingly explore the real­ities of suicide for teens and young adults — a topic I felt very strongly about.”

If the series wanted to prompt dis­cussion, however, they could have done it dif­fer­ently, according to Lutz.

“I think if the film wanted to add to the dis­course on this subject in a helpful manner, they should have added a PSA at the beginning of each program that gives the number for the national suicide hotline or other numbers for help,” Lutz said. “That, to me, just misses the mark and is irre­spon­sible, espe­cially given that the audience is mainly teenage pop­u­lation.”

Still, with its per­fectly-inte­grated flash­backs and gor­geous cin­e­matog­raphy, “13 Reasons Why” could be the lens through which to start dis­cus­sions. The slightly unre­al­istic air to the show helps sep­arate it from reality, pos­sibly making it easier to digest.

Sheff said talking about suicide is the best defense against it.

“I’m proud to be a part of a tele­vision series that is forcing us to have these con­ver­sa­tions, because silence really does equal death,” he said. “We need to keep talking, keep sharing, and keep showing the real­ities of what teens in our society are dealing with every day. To do any­thing else would be not only irre­spon­sible, but dan­gerous.”