13 Reasons Why’s writer defends the show

It's faced criticism over its portrayal of mental health


by Carl Smith |
Published on

Even if you're not properly obsessed with Netflix series 13 Reasons Why yet, you can't have escaped it. That thing's bloody everywhere. Rumours Miles Heizer and Brandon Flynn are dating, people writing creepy af messages on Dylan Minnette's car; everyone's mad for it.

Some people ain't too happy about the show's portrayal of mental health issues, though; and after mental health organisation Headspace criticised its 'distressing' approach to suicide writer Nic Sheff's defended the decision to include protagonist Hannah Baker's death.


In a guest column for Vanity Fair, Nic wrote: "[W]hen it came time to discuss the portrayal of the protagonist’s suicide in 13 Reasons Why, I of course immediately flashed on my own experience. It seemed to me the perfect opportunity to show what an actual suicide really looks like - to dispel the myth of the quiet drifting off, and to make viewers face the reality of what happens when you jump from a burning building into something much, much worse.

"It overwhelmingly seems to me that the most irresponsible thing we could’ve done would have been not to show the death at all.

"In AA, they call it playing the tape: encouraging alcoholics to really think through in detail the exact sequence of events that will occur after relapse. It’s the same thing with suicide. To play the tape through is to see the ultimate reality that suicide is not a relief at all - it’s a screaming, agonising, horror."


This echoes 13 Reasons Why creator Brian Yorkey's recent comments to The Hollywood Reporter about the show sparking a 'conversation' about suicide. He told them: "We wanted to confront the fact that suicide is messy, ugly and it's incredibly painful.

"There's nothing peaceful or beautiful about it at all. It's horrific to endure and it's horrific for the people that a person who commits suicide leaves behind. We wanted to tell that story truthfully. And as difficult as it is to watch, it should be difficult to watch. If we make it easy to watch, then we're selling goods that we didn't want to sell."

Fair enough.


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