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Thirteen Reasons Why sparks controversy among teenagers

by Scout Van Cise, opinion editor

The latest fascination of teenagers from all over the world is the Netflix-original series Thirteen Reasons Why. The 13 episode show, based on the 2007 novel under the same title by Jay Asher, follows the life of the late Hannah Baker, a high school student who was driven to the point of suicide due to the influence of some of her classmates. Before ending her life, Hannah made 13 cassette tapes, each dedicated to a person in her school that affected her life in a negative way.

The series, which aired on March 31, has been controversial. Many people argue that it romanticizes mental illness and self harm and that it is not healthy for teenagers to watch. Executive producer Selena Gomez responded to the controversy in an interview with E! News. “I just wanted it to come across in a way that kids would be frightened, but confused — in a way that they would talk about it because it’s something that’s happening all the time,” Gomez said.

This article by Psychology Today highlights the psychological effects of Thirteen Reasons Why.

Others are angered by viewers not taking the show seriously. Some have even gone so far as to turn the plot line into a social media game, making facebook or instagram posts asking friends and followers to comment their name so that the poster can reply with “tape” or “no tape.” “Tape” implies that the commenter wronged the poster at some point while “no tape” means that they’ve never offended them. There have also been several promposals with tapes labeled “Thirteen Reasons Why you should go to prom with me,” turning the show’s unsettling message into a way to get a date.

Saegertown students have mixed reviews about Thirteen Reasons Why. Junior Laura Monico saw the meaning of the show to be significant, but also saw flaws in the production of it. “I think everyone, even adults, should watch it. I do think that some of Hannah’s depression in the show is glorified and not completely accurately displayed, but again I think the message was clear and very important,” Monico said. “Even if people don’t agree with it or find it morally okay, everyone should be aware of how harsh and life changing their words can be.”

Sophomore Sheena Byham enjoyed the show but did not think it was appropriate for all audiences. “It was a really explicit show, and it was a dramatic vision on how high school can be. It was a good show overall, but some scenes aren’t meant for kids,” Byham said.

If you have strong opinions on Thirteen Reasons Why, email them to Scout Van Cise at

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Journalism Adviser, Saegertown Jr. Sr. High School

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