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Netflix show leaves an impact

The new show on Netflix, 13 Reasons Why, has caused a lot of controversy within the media and with students across the country.

Michael Tenney, Staff Writer

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Across the country there are several high schools and students talking about a new Netflix show that has everyone taking a stand for or against it.

13 Reasons Why arrived to Netflix on March 31, 2017. The show features a young girl named Hannah Baker who struggled – severely – in high school. She created 13 tapes depicting why she decided to commit suicide and each episode shows the events leading up to her death. Ever since then, students have binge-watched and talked about the new show. Senior Lucas Husser feels the show is a fairly good representation of high school.

“I just thought it was really a captivating show to watch,” said Husser. “Just showing what happens in high school even though it doesn’t always happen like that. Some of the small stuff definitely happens.”

Guidance Counselor Jennifer Rowland started watching the show a few weeks after its release. From the first half that she’s seen so far, she believes the students are a close representation as to what she’s seen throughout her years as a guidance counselor.

“Yes, heartbreakingly enough [I think the students in the show portray high school],” said Rowland. “From the first episode, I think that they nailed it. I think it’s very much what I see from students on a daily basis. They got it right with the different kinds of personalities and everything that teenagers have to deal with now.”

Even though she feels the students represent high school very well from a teenagers point of view, she feels the adults are not a good representation of guidance counselors or parents.

“The one thing I will say that irritates me is the show doesn’t give the adults enough credit,” said Rowland. “The parents seem kind of cheesy in how they’re dealing with everything. With looking at the counselor and the principal, I’d like to think that all the counselors at this high school and the administrators here are pretty approachable.”

Sophomore Maggie Behen knew about the series before it came up on the streaming service. The story started as a novel written by Jay Asher. As Behen read this a few years ago, she feels the story still brings the same message.

I think it was important to have books like that that exemplify mental illness and suicide awareness,

I think it was important to have books like that that exemplify mental illness and suicide awareness,”

— Maggie Behen

said Behen. “Art and literature are supposed to show things about our society and that is a prevalent thing.”

With mental illness becoming a large conversation within our society, many parents are taking the show as an opportunity to discuss these topics with their children.

“I know that there are a lot of parents that are choosing to watch it with their kids and taking that opportunity to have a discussion with them and talk about those issues,” said Rowland. “I see both sides of the show – how it could benefit and how it could potentially hurt students.”

While these issues are very serious and can be difficult to discuss, some believe the show doesn’t talk about mental illness or suicide in the best way – that the show may be glorifying suicide versus starting conversations.

“I was hearing more of the negative [before I started the show],” said Rowland. “The National School of Counseling Association put something out and a lot of counselors put out statements about why students shouldn’t watch this.”

Behen believes the show lets the viewers know that it contains “triggering” scenes or topics. Netflix put warnings at the beginning of some of the episodes.

“I think the nature of the show is pretty explicit,” said Behen. “In the descriptions, it says what it’s about. I think it’s really important for those who are not necessarily suffering with depression and mental illness to see that and really acknowledge that it’s there.”

Rowland warns students that if they are prone to suicidal thoughts or depression, watching the show may not be something they should do.

“If you’re prone to suicide, sometimes it does trigger more thoughts,” said Rowland. “It may take you to that next step of contemplating it to maybe coming up with a plan or just taking it to that next level. I get what everyone is saying about the piece.”

Husser said the show made him look back on how he acted toward people. As Hannah, the main character, goes through a lot of bullying. He wonders if he was a part of ever making someone feel the way Hannah did.

“It kind of makes you think about how you’re living your life and how you want to change it to be the best you can be,” Husser said.

Rowland believes that reflecting on how students treat each other is a good thing that comes from this show.

“That’s not a bad thing to take from that,” said Rowland. “For kids to look at the show and say, ‘Did I ever do that?’ It does make you think.”

Rowland sees a lot of the characters within high school. She said that watching the show is like an extension of bringing her work home.

“As a guidance counselor, on one end it’s so accurate with students lives that it makes me sad,” said Rowland. “Students just have to go through so much stress with social media and just dealing with high school in general. Just as a viewer, I’m enjoying their approach. I do think it’s an important thing to talk about. It’s important for adults to know that this is the reality of many teeangers lives now.”

While the show may reflect a lot of high school, Behen feels that the creators over-exaggerate it in an attempt to not only get people talking but to spread awareness.

Maggie Behen.

“I think it’s definitely over dramatized,” said Behen. “I also think the nature of who they [the characters] are and the core of what they do and what is true [exists in high school]. I think that there is a lot of those people exist. There are just the inflated versions that are big and bold so you really see them. I think that at the core, there are a lot of them all around.”

Rowland just wants the students to know that the guidance counselors are there for them. If a student is having trouble, she urges them to talk to someone.

“I would say that if you are prone to depression and have ever had thoughts of suicide, you probably shouldn’t watch it,” said Rowland. “I’d say if you do watch it, or do have thoughts of suicide, please tell somebody. Tell a friend, a counselor, a teacher, anybody. Just tell somebody that you’re hurting. You may believe there’s no hope, but there is. We are there to help you see that.”
If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text Crisis Text Line at 741-741.

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The student news site of Biddeford High School in Biddeford, Maine
Netflix show leaves an impact