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Why is “13 Reasons Why” so Controversial?

Kyla S., Culture Editor

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On March 31, Netflix came out with a new show that was an instant success. 13 Reasons Why is the story of Hannah Baker, a high schooler who commits suicide and leaves 13 tapes behind. Each tape is dedicated to a person who played a role in her death. The show follows Clay Jensen, a friend of Hannah’s, listening to the tapes.

This show is based off the book by Jay Asher and was brought to Netflix by executive producer Selena Gomez. Gomez’s intention was to bring awareness to the rising suicide rate in teenagers everywhere. She decided to follow through with the show as a “passion project.” Selena said that this book came to her in a time of need and struggle and gave her the courage to get help with her depression, so she wanted to help others going through the same thing. However, not everyone saw this as an aid for teens, but a negative influence.

Schools and parents aren’t allowing their children to watch the show or read the book due to the content given (images of rape, drug abuse, sexual assault, and suicide.) There is a suicide scene in the show that doesn’t shy away from the tragic, brutal reality of suicide. Alexa Curtis is someone who watched the show and got a different message from the show. Growing up Curtis was bullied in both middle and high school and eventually founded the nonprofit Media Impact and Navigation for Teens. After watching the show, Curtis said, “Had I been watching that as the vulnerable, fragile kid that I was when I was 13 or 14, I might have watched that and thought, ‘Oh, that’s the easy way out. This is going to get me the attention that I need. This is what I have to do.” To read more about Alexa Curtis’s story and opinion on the show visit:

Selena Gomez recently came back to defend the shows controversy and negative comments saying, “I just wanted it to come across in a way that kids would be frightened, but confused-in a way that they would about it because it’s something that’s happening to me all the time.” In addition, cast member Kate Walsh spoke about the realness of the show and avoiding the problems. “Part of the problem is not talking about it and not seeing it,” Walsh continued saying, “we just shove it under the rug, and nobody talks about it, and we just hope that it doesn’t happen to them or their children or friends or family.” In addition to Gomez and Walsh, many of the cast have spoke out against the controversy and are promoting one of Netflix’s biggest shows ever.

If you are having suicidal thoughts or depression it’s okay to get help and speak up. Get help at: or call 1(800)-273-8255.


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