After watching the first 9 episodes, I wanted to share my thoughts on Netflix’s new show, 13 Reasons. The show is about teen suicide, and several terrible events that can happen during high school. I wanted to post about the series, because I think several teens will watch this show. I believe just about all parents SHOULD watch this show.
The movie covers depression, underage drinking, rape, premarital sex, drug use, broken families, homosexuality, revenge, porn and bullying. Foul language is used throughout. You might cringe at the language, but it’s most likely the same language used in the hallways at school. There are a couple times where nudity is shown, however
no frontal nudity. There are scenes depicting multiple sexual assaults, and the
final episode graphically shows the main character committing suicide. I’m not supporting the ethics/morality the show represents. I do, however, believe the show gives a glimpse of high school life (I graduated in 2008). It is an exaggeration at times, but is fairly accurate in its depiction.
Due to the content in this show I’m not supporting teens watching this. In fact, I’m not saying whether they should or shouldn’t. I don’t have any experience as a parent. Let alone as a parent of teenagers. That’s the parents call. But you should be informed of the content before you let your child view. I would definitely not let a middle school student watch this show. However, it could be a really important show for PARENTS to sit through. Your experience is different from your kids. Their experience in school is different from my own, and I’m just 9 years removed. We can be really naive about what our kids are going through, and this show could shed some light on some trials and struggles in high school.
What if your student is already watching? Obviously, you as the parent have the right to tell them to stop. You can monitor what they are watching. If you’re fine with them viewing this content, at least sit down with them and watch along with them. Being silent about the show isn’t going to help your teenager. Your sons/daughters are going to be hearing about this show from friends at school. I understand the book was on the 9th grade reading list a year ago. Being quiet about it will only allow your child to experience the book/show through their own eyes, or their friends’ eyes. Don’t let that happen.
A fellow colleague posted this:
From Alex Moe (via Facebook) re: “13 Reasons Why on Netflix”
Hey everyone, I shared this with another group and people found it helpful.
Hopefully you are able to use it in your ministry! Feel free to copy and paste, or
change what you want. I sent it to my parents and it was really well received.
1. If your student isn’t watching it, start a conversation with them about the show
from what you know. If they want to watch it, I would suggest watching it with
them. It is better for them to watch it with you, and have someone to process with
instead of sneaking to watch it. The issues, in my opinion, are too heavy for our
students to be dealing with alone. If they are watching it without you, they are
processing those issues in the dark.
2. If your student isn’t watching it, and has no intent to watch it, I think it would be
helpful for you as parents to see it. You will not only gain perspective on your
student’s life at school (and with peers), but also gain perspective on the issues
that come with everyone having an iPhone in their pocket (something we didn’t
3. If your student is watching it (and you can confirm this by going to your
“Account Settings” on Netflix, then to “Viewing Activity”), then I truly believe you
should start also. It will be offensive and difficult to watch, but your student needs
to have someone to talk with about this show. This can also be a great
opportunity for you to engage your student on topics that may not normally come
up. Your student may also envy this chance to catch you up with what they’re
dealing with day to day.
Through my experience (though somewhat limited) in working with students
struggling with either depression or suicide, we need to be on the lookout
for subtle signs that a student is asking for help. From my experience, it is difficult for
students to outright ask for help. They struggle with saying, in person, “I’m
thinking about hurting myself”. There is too much shame from their perspective.
I don’t have this figured out to a science by any means, but I would suggest
offering your student an easier way to tell you they need help.
Almost every student is more comfortable texting, so I say start there. I would tell
them “if you are ever in a place you’re thinking of hurting yourself and need help,
just text me something like, ‘Mom/Dad help'”. If that’s even too upfront for them,
you could have them just text you “X”, something that would never come up
normally but you both know the meaning. This link brings you to a blog about
helping your students get out of tough situations with their friends, but could be
adapted for this purpose as well.
I posted this link a few weeks back. Help design an escape plan for your teenager:
Your students are probably familiar with the show, even if they’re not watching. Don’t tread in the dark. Be informed. Get equipped, and have some tough talks about tough issues with your kids. If you want to have a conversation with me about this or why I’m recommending it to you with the conditions listed above, I welcome your calls/emails. I’m also available to talk and meet up with you if you need.
I also want to make it clear, I don’t endorse the overall themes of the story. In some ways it celebrates the some of the immoral themes and messages of secular society. I can’t back that up. What I can take from this story is it is riddled with broken people living darkness who need light in their life. Based on this guide you might want to skip episode 12, or fast-forward through it. For some viewers, episode 9 might be too much half way through. Spoilers in the parental guide below. It also warns about kids watching, who have attempted/thought of suicide, or even those who deal with depression. The show is riddled with content that could trigger, or bring up poor thoughts. You should consider whether or not you want them to watch this before you let them. It could be too much for them.
Update: After watching episodes 9-13 I’ve been contemplating the overall message of the story. I believe it’s having some negative effects, but I didn’t know how to put these effects into words. Here’s an article from a reputable counselor, who examines the negative messages of the story:
The story creates a false sense of resolution about suicide, that simply isn’t possible. It tries to create this message, that the person committing suicide gets resolution. Through these tapes, the tombstone, the funeral. It’s just not true. Someone who takes their own life, doesn’t get closure or resolution, because they’re gone. Don’t buy into the lie this show is trying to depict. If you’re contemplating suicide, get help. That’s real resolution.