13 Reasons Why is a video series available on Netflix. If you’ve been told you NEED to watch this drama in order to understand teens now, I want to argue the opposite. I don’t believe that watching this series is necessary in order to understand teen cultures. Many viewers make this series sound as if it is presented as a documentary; it is not. It is a sensationalized, emotionally wrought fictional presentation of hours and hours of teen suffering and feels voyeuristic in its brutal and graphic portrayal of suicide. I managed to watch about 15 seconds of that scene and was so repulsed I turned it off.
Fictional, video streaming accounts of high school are not the way that our youth their own experience their lives. Parts of it, yes. Intense, highly edited with a powerful sound track? No. What this series does, I’m afraid, is double down on the visual trauma our youth are exposed to regularly. And we wonder why they are anxious, depressed, afraid and suicidal in greater and greater numbers?
If parents or counselors are curious, then watch a half hour or so. You won’t need any more exposure than that. I suggest it is completely unsuited for anyone, never mind teens. Watchers of any age are participating in reinforcing trauma. As a pastoral counselor and family therapist, I see the effects of too much trauma exposure daily. It’s very difficult to heal.