I have to start off by saying that I really appreciate that Netflix was considerate enough to put content warnings where they were necessary. Yes, they were necessary and *There will be mention of rape and suicide in this review*
One of the reasons that I enjoyed this book (which I read like 8 years ago) is because it covers a lot of important issues including suicide, bullying, sexual assault/rape, rape culture, peer pressure, etc.
Overall, I think that the series was done very well. The casting was good, I like that there was one episode per side of the tape and the way that it ended made sense.
I’ll start with Clay, since he’s a huge focus of the story. I like him for the most part but there were some times when I really wanted to shake him until he came to his senses. I totally understand that he was heartbroken, devastated, and confused at times. But every time he threatened to not listen to the tapes sort of pissed me off. We already knew (just because the type of character that he is) that he was going to listen to the tapes fully. It was always going to happen that way. But there were some times that I felt he was making Hannah’s death all about him. I sort of feel bad for saying that because he was in so much pain but Hannah needed to reveal her truth. I felt that making it about him without knowing the full story, started to take that away from her at times.
I cannot even begin to put into words how much I love Tony. He is like the perfect friend for every occasion. He’s always there at the right time. He knows what to say and how to push your buttons in the right order to make sure you do what you need to do. I need a friend like Tony in my life.
I hate that Jessica blamed Hannah for Alex’s actions. I hate how Marcus and Zach treated Hannah. I know that someone at some point will say, “but they’re teenagers” but I don’t believe that being a teenager is synonymous with treating other people like shit, making horrible decisions, being reckless and/or being a shitty person.
I hated that Jeff died. I really like him. I think Clay shouldn’t have been so hard on Cheri though. Obviously, pushing her to do the right thing was good, but he was pretty harsh about it sometimes. And honestly, what Cheri did, doesn’t compare to the things that some of the others did. What she did was careless, and she should’ve reported it that night. But she’s also a genuinely good person (for the most part). It haunted her and she did at least try to make up for it.
As far as Tyler goes, being a photographer doesn’t give you the right to invade someone’s privacy. He stalked her. Apparently he stalked a lot of people. It’s one thing to take candid pictures on campus but outside of someone’s window? Not okay. Also, the fact that he had guns hidden in his room in alarming.
I’m slightly indifferent towards Courtney. I understand that she’s struggling with her identity but spreading more lies about Hannah to take the attention off of herself was pretty low.
Alex. His list was childish. He was being petty and vengeful. He at least started to understand where he went wrong. I did not at all expect his suicide. I knew that he was struggling with the whole thing but I didn’t see that coming. I kind of don’t like that there were no student reactions for that though. Although, I guess that there was a hint when Tyler took his picture down. I didn’t pick up on that until afterward.
I want to feel bad for Justin because of his home situation, and I do, but what he did to Jessica, what he allowed to happen to her is unforgivable. Bryce is the epitome of rape culture. Jess was fucking unconscious and Hannah was obviously uncomfortable to be alone with him. She tried to get away. But I guess when you’re a rapist you don’t actually give a fuck. I hope that Bryce would have actually ended up being prosecuted, but we all know what happens when rich student athletes commit crimes. It’s fucking disgusting.
I think that some people would say that Hannah was a drama queen. That she needed to get over it. “High school sucks for everyone just deal with it.” None of those are acceptable responses for me. She was going through a lot at school and at home. People deal with different amounts of stress differently. Just because you would be able to shake something off doesn’t mean that someone else would find it just as easy.
I think the only person that I hate as much as Bryce and Justin, is Mr. Porter. I’m not a teacher and I’m not a counselor but as a Resident Assistant, I was trained in helping students cope with mental illness and suicide prevention. By no means am I saying that I have all the answers; I don’t. But there were certain things that he said that you just know he should not have said.
Like referring to Hannah’s goals as “unrealistic.” Maybe they were, but instead of discouraging her, talk her through the steps that she needs to take to get where she wants to go. Even if she isn’t going to make it, encourage her to try but also have a plan to fall back on. If he noticed that her grades were slipping he should have called her in to see what she needed.
When Hannah went to him on that last day, there were a plethora of things that should not have happened. He was obviously distracted, which happens. Life happens, even for people who we think have all the answers. But he hardly acknowledged anything that she said, at least not correctly. She said she didn’t care about anything, that she had no friends, and that she needed life to stop. Are those not serious red flags?!
Then when she finally goes to describe her rape, he said every single thing that fucking perpetuates rapes culture and that you should never say when someone is confiding in you about the trauma that they’ve experienced. Not only that, but he was so obviously uncomfortable which seems like it would make it even harder for her to talk about.
This entire conversation was completely fucked up. “Did anything happen that you regret….Did you tell him to stop? Did you tell him no? Maybe you consented and changed your mind?” And then, telling her to “move on.” Are you fucking kidding me?
Even when Clay told him that he knew the story, his response was that he should stop this conversation. Way to fucking go. You had the chance to save this girl and you fucking blew it.
I know that seeking help doesn’t always help everyone and it’s not a magical experience that rids people of suicidal thoughts or depression. But for Hannah, it could have been. She wanted him to help her. She wanted him to stop her. Convince her that she had more to live for. Instead, he shut her down and let her walk away.
I spent all of the last episode either crying or feeling like my blood was going to boil because I was so pissed. I know that a lot of people would consider the novel “dark YA” but that needs to stop. For many people this is just fiction that mirrors reality.
- National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255