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13 Reasons Why 13 Reasons Is An Important Show Which Tackles Real Problems

High school drama has been the focal point of many many TV shows but Selena Gomez's show 13 Reasons Why stands out for a number of reasons. A cross between Pretty Little Liars and Skins, it handles the protagonist Hannah Baker’s suicide and the consequences it leaves for the people in her lives. Here’s 13 things the show has addressed.

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1. Diversity:

Because REPRESENTATION MATTERS. It’s so important for television to reflect society, especially as the show affects so many young people, to see people that look like themselves on TV going through the same things they do. The group of friends in 13 Reasons Why come from various ethnic backgrounds and sexual orientations, which is encouraging to see on a mainstream tv show.

2. Stress levels of high schools

Studies show that the stress levels of high school students are HIGHER than anxiety levels of psychiatric patients in the 1950s. And this show nods to all the factors that make this period highly stressful.

4. Redemptive qualities of human beings

Though some of the group members’ actions are inexcusable, most of them have qualities that are relatable and moments of clarity which makes it difficult to hate them, i.e Alex who constantly question’s the gang’s cowardice: ‘The only thing worse than being a rapist is hiding behind one.’

5. Rape culture

In the entirety of the tapes, two rapes occur and a lot of viewers questioned the group’s decision not to report Bryce, especially as very few of them have committed a crime (one as heinous as his, at least), but realistically, people have stayed silent about rape for much less.

6. Modern poverty

Some school children are unable to feed themselves because of modern day poverty. We see this with Justin who goes without wholesome meals and often has nowhere to live due to a substance abusing mother.

7. Slut shaming

Hannah’s woes start at the hands of Justin sending around a revealing picture of her which spirals her into a world of bullying. The show portrays how girls can be judged much harsher to boys. This ultimately leads to the gang questioning Hannah’s tapes because she was ‘easy’ and ‘liked attention’. We see this in real life, how a sexual assault victim’s history is used to discredit them, i.e Ched Evans case.

8. Unity

At the end of the show, Clay gets closure, he recognises the signs of depression and loneliness in his friend Skye and reaches out to her, telling Mr Porter: ’It has to get better, the way we treat each other, and look after each other, it has to get better.’ The show champions talking to one another, being there for each other.

9. Welfare system

Like in real life, the show reveals how the rich are protected (Bryce), and the poor are vulnerable, Hannah’s family struggle with college and their business; she mentions financial aid for college and how top schools are out of reach. At one point, the group consider letting Bryce take the fall and pay his way out of it, once again showing how powerful the rich can be.

11. Social order of high school/society

The show reinforces the social structure and how reluctant people are to question it. Bruce is a popular figure, captain of the football team, how can be capable of rape? It reveals that it’s hard to admit that assaulters can be powerful, successful people, sports players, actors, even presidents.

12. Rape-apology

Every perpetrator is given an episode, a tape, a chance to add some redemptive quality, an insight to their own stories but not the biggest predator himself; Bryce, his story is sidestepped because it doesn’t matter. No nuances in his characterisation need to be added, because nothing excuses his actions.

13. Grief

it shows the different ways people grieve, which we see through Hannah’s parents. Clay mourns both Hannah’s and Jeff’s death differently; angry at Jeff and confused by Hannah’s. The show reminds us although you can’t love people back to life, you can at least try, by honouring their memory and stopping the next person from sharing a similar fate.

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