CTPress April 28, 2017

13 Reasons Why

The hottest show right now on Netflix is a powerful show called “13 Reasons Why,” which tells the story of Hannah Baker, a girl who killed herself. Hannah leaves 13 tapes, each one identifying a person who contributed to reasons Hannah ended her life. There is a quite a bit of buzz about this show, and I have no doubt some of you have watched it. There are several reasons why the show is so popular.

First, it is well done. Though many of the characters are stereotypes, the kids playing these parts turn in gut-wrenching performances. The show moves between the past and the present in a very fluid way, and it is so well done, you know immediately when you’re in either place without the production saying to the viewer, “Now we’re flashing back.”

Second, it’s real. Adolescence was hard for all of us, but now even more so. Our kids daily face the pressures of every one of their peers having a camera (in their phone) and recording every time they mess up. Embarrassing photos (some of which are photo-shopped) are routine. Everyone at school knows everything every time something bad or dramatic happens to someone. The dating rules have changed, too. People hook up first, and then date later. And when you add all of this to the usual pressures of the teen years, it’s no wonder our kids feel so stressed and empty. “13 Reasons Why” navigates these strug-
gles with great finesse and sensitivity.

There are some troubling parts of the show, as well. First, it is nearly devoid of any spirituality. The characters in the show need to know that God loves them unconditionally, and no one speaks that truth or hope into any of their lives.

Second, the language is horrifyingly brutal. The “f-bomb” is used constantly and the dialog is often uncomfortable. Third, it’s overly dramatic. Some of the teenagers who have watched it have said that the issues in the show are present in their peers, but their reactions are not so histrionic. Finally, I worry that the “revenge” of the dead main character through her tapes may have a negative impact on kids.

I encourage parents and grandparents of adolescents to watch the show. However, I do so with big, huge, caveat and word of caution: This is not a Christian show. It’s rated TV-MA. There is cursing, sex, rape, violence, substance abuse and other troubling things. But it may be worth viewing to get glimpse into the world our kids live in and the struggles they deal with. It may start some important discussions you might not otherwise have. It might help you and them understand where to find Christ in the midst of all this.


Pastor John