13 Reasons Why [2017]: The importance of reaching out to people

A few days ago I made this post on Facebook, where I casually mocked random things people do just to fit into a society, even though those things actually don’t matter to them (saying good morning good night, making it a point to wish on every festival, laughing at unfunny jokes just for the sake of it etc). The post was kind of funny (at least to me) and very much ironic which made it a rather sad (read depressing) one. Like what happens always, this post got quite a response and the likes and comments followed; and I went on to work.

However, I received a phone call some hours later, it was a friend who was (sort of) angry with me for making such a post (and a lots of other nihilistic posts over a period of time, I have a thing for that kind of humour, I admit) and seemed extremely concerned about me. I won’t lie that it seemed a bit too much at first, even slightly annoying; as it kind of smelled like someone invading my privacy and dictating what I should/shouldn’t do on Social media. But (while dealing with my general telephonic anxiety thing) I kept talking with him and tried to explain I did the post casually and (no way) I stood at the edge of the cliff called my life. I was actually in a rather good mood in the morning while making that post, to be honest. However, I eventually realised one thing, which is, this friend of mine was actually concerned and he thought he should reach out to me. And no matter how I felt, his intentions were positive and very much noble.

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13 Reasons Why, Netflix’s new show, which is an adaptation of Jay Asher’s popular young adult novel (I didn’t know about this book before) emphasises a lot on the topic of reaching out to people, and what can happen when you don’t.

This is Netflix, alright, but there is absolutely no chill. Even though things look nice and feel nice because of the high school setting, vibrant cinematography and totally killer soundtrack, you always feel uneasy while watching it. You can’t root/fall for a character because these characters might just be the reason for someone ending her life. It’s a very strange feeling and the whole thing is (although highly addictive, but) difficult to watch.

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In a rather deadpan, satirical style the show’s (already dead) protagonist Hannah Baker (wonderfully played by newcomer Katherine Langford) tells you that she has killed herself in the opening five minutes, and the whole journey through the thirteen episodes is basically finding out why she did it. You go through it, feel various kinds of emotions from sadness to emptiness to anger to frustration, depending on who you are in your life and in the end, you see this girl slitting the wrist and bleeding to death. Yes, they actually show that thing, (skillfully) without any background music or a song. And the season ends at a point from where you are not sure what happens after but you don’t really care much. Because Hannah Baker is dead, and you know why she is dead now, and that’s it for you as the audience.

The main reason for the show working so brilliantly is taking utterly simple, very much relatable life situations, little things you don’t really think about and then getting into your skins through that. Saying/doing something to someone, bullying people (or being at the receiving end of it), hurting people emotionally/physically (without even understanding it); the show goes into all the uncomfortable territories you can ever imagine. And while doing that, it takes a strong stand against judging. This is the world we live in, where everyone judges everyone, based on assumptions and physical appearances. People are judged on the basis of behavior, sexual preference, silly rumors, financial state and what not. This show, using the high-school background in its advantage, shows the ugly side of being judgemental in a no-hold-bare manner, without being even a bit preachy.

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At the end of the day, no one really knows what is going on in someone else’s life. People see each other, talk and socialise, even get intimate; but still, there is a lack of awareness which leads to disastrous conclusion many times. It is important for us to think a bit, before doing or saying something. Not poking fun at anyone in distress, become a little more understandable, be a little bit compassionate. A TV show can’t exactly be a lesson in life, but for what’s it worth, this one does come with an essential perspective and asks us to make an effort, so that the Hannah Bakers of the world don’t end up dead in bathtubs.