Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why” Is Shedding Light On Serious Societal Issues
In case you missed the buzz about '13 Reasons Why', here’s your chance to catch up. (But seriously, the show is amazing so what are you waiting for?)
Many spectators have commented on Netflix’s new series, which is based on Jay Asher’s 2007 YA novel of the same name. The show has received praise for its unflinching, realistic portrayal of uncomfortable topics like suicide, depression, and sexual assault.
Yet for all the truth the series dishes out, not everyone enjoyed the way Bryce (Justin Prentice) was treated by the rest of his classmates. However, Bryce’s story is a key reflection of how many well-liked, well-respected athletics are treated in situations such as Hannah’s (Katherine Langford) and Jessica (Alisha Boe).
Hannah announces on her tapes that Bryce raped both her and Jessica, but rather than turn Bryce in the others seem to protect him. Sadly, this is the reality when sexual assault takes place. On '13 Reasons Why', Bryce is popular, rich, and adored by students, which makes him unlikely to commit crimes such as rape or bullying of other students. And certainly, someone as popular as Bryce wouldn’t need to force woman to have sex with him (as Bryce says to Clay during his confession).
However, Hannah is the only person to speak out against what Bryce has done and she can be discredited since she’s dead. The key issue in this situation is that no one wanted to confront Bryce because of his stature and status in the school. Even as Hannah seeks help from Mr. Porter (Derek Luke), the school’s guidance counselor, he appears to victim blame. Asking her if she drank or taken drugs or if she said, “stop”.
Asher intentionally wrote the scene with Bryce and Hannah to depict the importance of understanding body language when engaging in sexual activities. Just because Hannah does not say no, does not make it okay. The absence of a no does not automatically mean yes. During the scene where Bryce forces himself on Hannah, she’s visibly paralyzed by the situation and crying.
Overall, the show demonstrates the unfair treatment girls and young women receive in schools and society. Hannah was often sexualized and objectified in her school for months and no one did anything to stop it. When she finally decided to ask for help she was made to feel responsible for Bryce’s actions. We can learn a great deal from this series and hopefully it’s eye opening for a lot of people in learning how to deal with situations of sexual assault and suicide.