TV audiences have become accustomed to the process binge watching their favorite TV series. This trend is exacerbated with every Netflix show, as the streaming service releases new seasons in their entirety. The latest of these binge watched shows is the Selena Gomez produced drama 13 Reasons Why, which became available March 31st. Those who haven't read the novel of the same name devoured the series to uncover Hannah's mysterious suicide, which was shown in gory detail during the season finale. The scene was extremely hard to watch, and now one 13 Reasons writer has explained why Hannah's climactic scene was so graphic.
13 Reasons Why writer Nic Sheff had previously struggled with suicide himself, and recently opened up to Vanity Fair about why Hannah's horrifying scene in the finale was so graphic. He said,
So when it came time to discuss the portrayal of the protagonist's suicide in 13 Reasons Why, I of course immediately flashed on my own experience. It seemed to me the perfect opportunity to show what an actual suicide really looks like---to dispel the myth of the quiet drifting off, and to make viewers face the reality of what happens when you jump from a burning building into something much, much worse.
It overwhelmingly seems to me that the most irresponsible thing we could've done would have been not to show the death at all. In AA, they call it playing the tape: encouraging alcoholics to really think through in detail the exact sequence of events that will occur after relapse. It's the same thing with suicide. To play the tape through is to see the ultimate reality that suicide is not a relief at all---it's a screaming, agonizing, horror.
That's some powerful stuff. And the logic certainly holds up for quite a few reasons.
One of the common criticisms of 13 Reasons Why is that it may glamorize teen suicide. While Hannah made the decision to take her own life, she carefully planned out her tapes in order to tell her story and share the blame. In this way, Hannah finally reclaims her power- although it also destroys her parents and friends. Critics believe this message may encourage suicidal teens to take their own lives, in hopes of having power after death like Hannah.
But Hannah's horrifying suicide scene changes it all. The scene is long, and extremely difficult to watch. We see Hannah violently slit her writs, and we empathize with the fear and pain that she no doubt felt in the moment. Additionally, we are shown as her poor parents (Kate Walsh and Brian d'Arcy James) find her body and are traumatized for the rest of their lives. Suicide definitely isn't portrayed as glamorized in the finale, in fact it's downright nauseating and will haunt you after the episode ends.
It should be interesting to see if Netflix decides to craft a second season of 13 Reasons. There were quite a few cliffhangers left, including Alex's suicidal attempt, Tyler's school shooting plans, and Justin's departure from the town. But since the novel didn't have a sequel, a second season won't have the luxury of a fascinating source material to adapt.
You can catch 13 Reasons Why in its full on Netflix. Be sure to check our summer premiere list to plan your next binge watching session.