Sunday, April 23, 2017

A mom reviews 13 Reasons Why (On Netflix)


I came across the book version of 13 Reasons Why a few years ago but gave it a complete miss because even though I am an avid fan of Young Adult books, I had absolutely zero interest in reading about teenage suicide and all that angst that went with it. This was especially so after reading John Green's Looking For Alaska. Some people like sad books and some people like happy books, and that's OK. 

And then Netflix decided to produce a whole series based on the book. And then my Twitter feed exploded with lots of young people expressing their love-hate for the show. 

And then I found myself marathoning 3 episodes of the show one night when I had trouble sleeping (ironically baby slept like an angel!) The series was produced very well and the actors are great! 

And then the next day, I watched the fourth episode... fifth episode... and then promptly stopped. Because all the signs were there that the story was only going to get sadder and weirder as it went along. 

I then did some Googling on the storyline. Then I skipped to episode 9 and 11 to watch/briefly glance at the controversial scenes and finally jumped around the last episode to have some closure to the story. 

The following is my review not as a Netflix binger or bookworm, but as a mom with a daughter. 

The long and short of it is that yes, parents, you should absolutely watch 13 Reasons Why with your teenage children because they are going to come across it someday anyway and the messages in this episode can only be used for good if you use it to open conversations with your child.

Does this really happen in school?
Do you know anyone like that?
What would you have done differently? 
What would you do if this happened to you? 
Do you have someone to talk to?
Who are your best friends?
Are people nice to you? 

And so on and so forth. 

I totally completely 100% understand why lots of people hate the show, condemning it for glorifying suicide (it actually teaches kids how to kill themselves the right way with a razor), hints that parents and school teachers are useless and that suicide is the best form of getting revenge. OMG and the rape scenes are seriously... I couldn't even get through those scenes so I just skipped ahead. 

As a mom, I am super super super glad that my children will probably never experience high school education in America because geez, as if getting good grades wasn't stressful enough, girls in America have to worry about being called either a bitch or a slut, getting raped at parties or being shot with a gun (according to Netflix anyway).  I do hope that this is an  exaggeration as children everywhere should have fun at school. 

Growing up in Malaysia, I had a very happy high school life filled with plenty of wholesome activities. I remember spending lots of time watching lots of TV, chatting on IRC and ICQ and cramming for exams. I was also super active, from being in the Chess club to Badminton to Interact to playing the saxophone in the marching band and earning my black belt in Taekwondo! 

But having watched this show reminds me that the childhood that I had might not be the one that our daughter will experience growing up. The world is different now and we have so many more cautionary tales to tell our children, from molesters to kidnappers to bad people who will hurt you or break your heart just for fun.

Of course we intend to provide our daughter with the best environment possible to help her grow into an amazing young woman. 

But at the same time, I know that I also intend to watch plenty of shows like 13 Reasons Why with her because when she gets into trouble and goes looking for help, I don't want her to find her answers with Netflix or the Internet first.


BTW, Thirteen the movie would also be a great movie to watch with your kids when they're teenagers.

(P/S - Kids, just FYI, if you slit your wrists with razors there is a higher likelihood that instead of bleeding out and dying, you could cut a nerve and paralyse your hand forever). 

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