It won’t be easy to watch.
But if you have kids, and especially if you have teenagers, 13 Reasons Why on Netflix is essential viewing.
Not because it’s particularly good, or enjoyable to watch. In fact, I’d argue that it’s the opposite… it’s really bloody hard to sit through each episode.
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The show is set in a high school and explores difficult topics, including suicide, sexual assault, rape, teen pregnancy, sexuality and drug addiction.
Yep, that’s about the full rainbow of teen challenges right there…
And it reveals it all, in brutal, graphic detail.
It’s so graphic, in fact, that after season two was recently released there were calls for the final episode to be banned.
I won’t go into details for fear of sharing spoilers (you can read more here, if spoilers don’t bother you), but I will say that it is important for parents to watch it – because this is what our teenagers are watching.
To be honest, if it were 16-year-old me watching these scenes, I would not cope very well. They would stay with me; I’d find them traumatising. Others could find them triggering and sadly familiar, and for others still they are completely foreign experiences.
Regardless, our kids are watching this, so we need to be across it, too.
I must admit that I don’t understand why these scenes need to be shown with such brutality; this is a show aimed at teenagers, after all. We should reflect realities of teenager life, of course – but do we need to be so graphic about it? Can we show difficult and challenging and life-changing situations, without being so cruel and vicious and traumatising in the deliver?
My feeling was that particularly gruesome scenes were unnecessary.
Until I realised that they are a genuine reflection of real life… and if this is what our kids and teens are potentially facing, then we owe it them to get involved, no matter how messy or confronting it may be.
As WHO magazine’s Gavin Scott so accurately writes, watching this series “left me unsettled”.
“I understand the concern from parents and schools about 13 Reasons Why,” he continues.
“It does not shy away from serious topics… so watch it with them (your kids) and turn it into an opportunity for open discussion. But discuss it. And be unsettled by it. And hope that the show’s central message of respect, accountability and responsibility sinks in.”
If you are in immediate danger call 000 now. If you require advice or assistance, the following services can offer counselling and support:
Lifeline 13 11 14 | visit website
Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636 | visit website
Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800 | visit website
MensLine Australia 1300 789 978 | visit website