When this series first came out, I think I heard about it from a news article posted on Facebook. It talked about how some people thought it glamourized suicide and how it should be banned. I did not really think much of it at the time to be honest. I hadn’t seen it, nor had I seen previews for it.
Sometime recently, I would say in the last 6 months or so, I started to hear more chatter about the show. I talked with a few people and they told me I probably shouldn’t watch it given my history with suicidal tendencies. I took their word for it. I was not all that curious about it anyway.
That is until recently when I got bored and saw it on Netflix (when the new season came out). I watched a few episodes and just couldn’t stop watching. I related a lot to the Hannah they portrayed in season 1.
In high school many people thought I was a lesbian. I guess they were only partially wrong. I did not identify as a lesbian, though I was definitely attracted to girls. I wasn’t any more or less attracted to boys. I had realized this about myself in middle school, but it wasn’t until high school that I became open about it. If people weren’t calling me a lesbian, they were calling me other names like slut. To be frank, those were not the words that hurt me. I didn’t care about those words because I knew my truth, they clearly didn’t (despite the fact I had the same boyfriend for nearly my entire high school career). Nonetheless, it was annoying to hear all these assumptions and rumors about me. Most of the time I laughed them off.
My experience with bullying, though mostly different natured than the show, felt torturous to me. I was sexually harassed countless times. “It is just how boys are”. I would get guys asking for nude photos of me. Befriending me online so that their popular friends wouldn’t know about it, or maybe it was a big group joke (I don’t know). Being rude at school, but sweet behind a screen. It was a very confusing thing to go through.
I also had a lot of feelings of self loathing at that time. My family was falling apart and yet no one bothered to take notice on how I was dealing with all of that. Like Hannah, I felt so lost, like I was in a cave of darkness.
I related to her.
The first season was pretty intense. I just wanted to know who was next and what they did. On the episode where Hannah does kill herself, I could not bring myself to watch her do it. Not that I think I would be capable of those actions now, but because I am so very aware of my old feelings. I knew exactly how it felt to want to end things. Thinking everyone was better off without me and I was to be at peace finally without all these struggles. (I know better now. Suicide is not an option).
Then you have to add in how all these other stories (in the show) factored into the rest. It got me thinking about how each thing that happened to me was tied to something else. How I didn’t know what these other kids, my bullies, were going through. Perhaps they did have their own stuff to deal with. However, there is no reasonable excuse for being an asshole. Being an asshole should not be trademarked as a cool characteristic, because it’s not. Begging girls and blackmailing them, to fulfill some sort of sexual need that you have is completely wrong. Our society has got to take consent much more seriously. It starts at home. (For all genders, not just limited to boys).
After watching season 1, I began to sort of feel nervous. As a parent, I can only imagine what my kids will go through. Will I be aware if things happen to them? Will they feel comfortable enough to tell me? Will the school they go to not pay attention to what should be the most important-safety? How do I parent these situations? What if my child is a Bryce? What if my child is Hannah? What if my child is any of these kids, how do I parent them to make them be the best person they can be? It is terrifying to think about the things I may have no control over, especially if I have no reason to assume anything is going on.
I think the first season did a good job at showing parents just how messed up it is in today’s society to be a teenager. I truly hope more parents become more involved with their kids.
As for the second season…(possible spoilers)
The first few episodes seemed to drag out too much. Once things finally started to unravel, I became upset. Hannah was being potrayed differently now. I felt like it sort of undermined the point of how kids are bullied for no good reason. Though, Hannah’s story is still very much a reality for some people. I think it took away from the more seriousness of the kids more like Tyler, who just want to fit in. People who try to fit in and get tortured no matter what they do. It is a very ugly, scary, and sickening thing. In some ways, I was Tyler (minus the stalking). However, no one deserves to be bullied. You can hate someone, but that doesn’t mean you are allowed to be cruel to them. If you think being cruel is funny, then you need to do some serious soul searching.
The whole trial in the show really pissed me off. I know it is a reality for people with money to get off easy, but what precedent does that set for the Bryce’s of the world? [Like the douchebag rapist who raped the woman at Standford University and only got 6 months in jail.] Not only did the trial piss me off, but so did the coach and the principal. Why would an educator put a higher value on athletics than the safety of students? It is sickening that people even think that that is okay. As a mother, I worry about that. I should be able to trust educators. In today’s society, it is already challenging to do that. I guess it is a new perspective for me that the possibility is there.
The last couple episodes were gut wrenching for me. I literally wanted to puke with what happened to Tyler. I worry about my kids. Hoping to whatever devine being may be there that nothing bad ever happens to them or they don’t become a Monty.
The cliffhanger ending also made me mad- I am not good with not knowing the rest of the story. Grrr.
Overall, I think parents do need to watch the show. I would say not to let kids watch it without discussing it with them during and after. These conversations need to be happening. These sort of behaviors can be prevented by talking about it. Teaching right from wrong. Teaching about consent. It is our duty as parents to be there, to teach. Don’t you want better for the next generation? I know I do. It starts at home. Get to talking. Be involved. It is crucial.