I've been really pleased about the open conversation that has emerged since the announcement of the second season of Netflix's 13 Reasons Why. According to Seven Sharp, who covered the story last night, it's Netflix's most popular series ever. It covers issues such as rape and suicide, and the second series is said to be more "real and raw" than the first. The Chief Censor has created a new rating especially for the show – RP18 – and the Mental Health Foundation has published a webpage about it, offering advice and support.
I watched the first season and – while "enjoyed it" may not be quite the right way to describe my experience – it certainly captured my attention. It's a courageous show that isn't scared to tell things how they are, particularly for young people. It's a wake-up call to the whole of society, reflecting back to us a version of reality that sections of society are either dealing with silently or denying blindly, because of stigma, shame and fear.
It's time to destroy the denial, stop the stigma and face the fear because they're not going away. Here are three reasons to watch 13 Reasons Why and keep the conversation alive.
1. It's real
The themes of the show are easily dismissed as over-dramatic, exaggerated or sensationalised. They're not. They are a consequence of a shadow-side of humanity that goes largely unacknowledged and is often scapegoated as the fault of young people. They are part of our common reality and we need to get real, courageous and serious about dealing with.
2. Young people need our help
As adults, we are letting young people down by letting them deal with situations of our making, about which we turn a blind eye and ignore. We tell ourselves lies about the world, systems and structures that allow young people to hurt and be hurt. If you're a parent, take David Shanks' word and watch it, even if it's awkward, so you know what is going on for young people. Then be available, supportive and unjudgmental and, please, don't shame your kids out by diving into an awkward deep and meaningful about it.
3. It's the right thing to do
Life isn't always sun and roses. The rain falls and the blooms wither and die. Things get dark and bleak. It's too easy to pretend these uncomfortable, messy situations don't exist. It's negligent to look to social services to deal with the fallout. It's wrong to look away because it feels too hard. We have a responsibility to face these shadows, address them and find ways to change.
Please, do the right thing. Watch 13 Reasons Why (including Season 1 if you haven't yet) and let's talk about how we make things better for us all.