You may have heard of some trending shows that are popular on media outlets like Netflix. Last year the show Stranger Things was very popular among the teens and young adults and this spring, the show 13 Reasons Why has gained huge interest and popularity in a short time.
The show, 13 Reasons Why is based off of a novel by Jay Asher. It tells the story of a high school girl named Hannah Baker who has committed suicide. The story is about 13 tapes that she left behind for her classmates to listen to that explain her reasons why. The main character of the show is a boy named Clay who had a crush on Hannah and the show focuses on him and how he handles the tapes. Hannah leaves behind not only friends, and family, but a box of cassette tapes with instructions for her classmates.
“I hope you’re ready, because I’m about to tell you the story of my life,” she says on the first cassette tape. “More specifically, why my life ended. And if you’re listening to these tapes, you’re one of the reasons why.”
Hannah recorded 13 messages before her death that she intended on having her classmates listen to them in order. Each selected classmate must listen to the tapes all the way through, no exceptions. If someone refused to follow through, Hannah promised that the corresponding taped message would be released through an alternate, much more public forum. “You’re being watched,” she cautioned.
Though Hannah took her life, she had a clear message to convey through her recorded messages on the tapes. Tapes that tells a tragic story, messages that were full of unfair rumors, bullying, unintended oversights, a variety of some really hard things teens should never go through. The show follows the aftermath of the selected classmates and how they are affected by Hannah’s death.
13 Reasons Why is geared toward high school students. It has a very compelling story line and has a TV-MA rating— “may be unsuitable for children under 17.” This show does not hold back in regards to content. There is drug and alcohol use, sex, physical and verbal abuse, and profanity. As the show progresses, the content shows more and more graphic scenes and situations, eventually leading to two heinous rape scenes and a extremely graphic suicide of the main character, Hannah Baker.
Besides the graphic content, there is also very mature themes throughout the series including suicide, underage drinking, cutting, rape, premarital sex, drug use, broken families, child abuse, homosexuality, revenge porn, and bullying.
While there are some very mature, graphic, and possible exaggerated ideas seen throughout 13 Reasons Why. I believe they are not to far away from real life situations our teens and their friends experience today.
At a Glance….A Parent’s First Response to 13 Reasons
The first step in response to 13 Reasons Why is for you as parents to know what is out there and what your teen has access to viewing. Take some time to educate yourself about this show. (See below for further information and articles.) Check back to this blog for more detailed entries about 13 Reasons Why over the next few weeks.
Be aware of what devices teens are able to watch this show on. 13 Reasons Why is on Netflix, which is available on Ipads, smartphones, video game systems, laptops, and smart TVs.
It is also important to be mindful of your child or teen and that they will eventually come into contact with this show in some way or another. Even if you decide not to allow your teen to watch this show, chances are friends and classmates might have seen this show and they might be talking about this during study hall or in the lunchroom.
Start the Conversation
The next step after being aware/educating yourself is to have conversations. Have a conversation with your spouse about this show, and get on the same page with how you both would like your family to respond to 13 Reasons Why.
Next, start up conversations with your teen in regards to viewing this show. See what they know, and let them know your expectations as to if you will allow them to view this show or not. Give clear reasons and an explanation behind your decision. (This is great to do with ANY tv show or movie you are allowing your kid to watch)
With any and most topics too, like sex and other stuff, it is always good to ask open ended questions to figure out what they know before talking about anything- so pertaining to this show- it would be great to ask these questions:
Have you heard about the show/book 13 Reasons Why?
What do you think about it?
What are your thoughts about suicide?
Have yo seen any of these behaviors portrayed in the show at your school?
Who are your friends/support group at school?
How could bringing jesus into this situation change anything?
How could involving a parent in this situation change anything?
If you need more information about talking with your teen about suicide check out these resources:
I personally do not recommend teens to watch this show. I definitely would not recommend anyone to watch this show alone. As an adult this show brought about a lot of emotions and tough issues. I can understand that a teenager would need someone to walk alongside them to help them process each episode.
If your teen is watching this show I highly encourage you to take action! Make a decision. You may want to watch it with your teen or you may not want them watching at all. If they are watching, they will need someone to talk to to process the mature content and themes. This can be an opportunity for you to engage with topics with your teen that do not normally come up. It may also give you some insight as to what teens are dealing with day to day.
My final recommendation: Teens should not watch this show, but if they are…as a parent you need to be there to walk alongside them.
The decision to let your teen or family watch 13 Reasons Why is entirely up to you. I hope to offer some guidance on how to best relate to your teen and how to navigate some difficult topics for anyone, let alone teenagers. May God give you the wisdom you need to point any encourage your family towards Christ!