PTSD and Awareness

Thirteen Reasons Why Discussion #4

**Trigger Warning — This post covers a broad spectrum of potentially triggering topics, such as abuse, bullying, sexual assault, and suicide. Please read with caution. If you need to find help for any reason, go to 13ReasonsWhy.info.**

What Was Done Right: Part One

**Spoilers Ahead — proceed with caution.**

I’m back with another discussion post about the controversial TV show, Thirteen Reasons Why. If you haven’t already, feel free to read the introduction, The Problems: Parts OneTwo, and Three.

From the moment the show begins, up until that last moment before the final credits roll in episode thirteen, the writers and showrunners did many things right. These things, probably more than the problems combined, are what has stirred up so much controversy and conversation.

Many of these details are things you probably didn’t notice or fully understand unless you’ve watched this show from start to finish more than once or you’ve experienced something similar. And like any good story, very little was left to chance in the final editing and production.

What really sets this show apart from most others was that there was so much more going on under the surface. Things like symbolism, hints and clues, even in the most heartbreaking of moments: the accuracy.

Today, I’m talking about the little details.

To save you the trouble, I’m going to break them down for you. If you have watched this show and choose to revisit it to recognize these for yourself, you’ll at least know where to look.

The first, and arguably the biggest of these was the differentiation between the “current” and the “past” — more specifically, when Hannah Baker was still alive. While watching, you may not have noticed the underlying theme in these time shifts. You see, it wasn’t just an indication of time. It’s a subtle reminder, but of what?

Think about it. Whenever Clay is listening or going about his post-Hannah reality, we see that not only are the days shorter and colder, but so are the colors. Did you notice that the leaves aren’t fiery reds, oranges, and browns, but more muted? Did you notice how everything is tinged with blue?

Compare that with the flashbacks of Hannah, narrating each moment that led her to take her life, the moments Clay remembered as she did so, do you see it?

Everything is more vivid, colors are alive, and the warmth is evident, especially when time shifts. You can visibly see the change. This wasn’t done by chance. And though it is helpful to differentiate time, it also shows people that the world is darker and colder without Hannah in it.

You may have also noticed that Jeff wasn’t present in any of the post-Hannah scenes, except when Clay was dreaming or hallucinating. My first time watching, I didn’t make the connection that Jeff was the other student who was lost, shortly before Hannah’s death, until tape number ten.

How about the significance of the songs that played throughout the show? Did you like the way they sounded, or did you actually listen to the lyrics? Take the very first song in episode one as we see Clay at his locker. “More Than Gravity” by Colin and Caroline is playing. Here’s a line you can hear, “I can’t love you, I’m too scared to.” Significant? You bet. Heartbreaking too, if you know the rest of the story already.

What about the throwback songs (or covers) to the era of the cassette tapes? Did you happen to notice that many of them committed suicide or they were significantly tied to people that did? Take Chromatics’ “Into The Black,” which was originally written by Neil Young. “It’s better to burn out than to fade away,” was quoted in Kurt Cobain’s suicide note.

How about “The Night We Met” by Lord Huron? “Haunted by the ghost of you” not only refers to Clay’s current state of mind as he listens to the tapes, but those moments they danced together.

Take some time and give the songs a listen and maybe look them up for their significance. You might be surprised at what you find.

Did you notice the entirety of Hannah’s published poem? As Clay reads the second half of the poem to Hannah in the Crestmont Theater, it’s clear that the poem takes a much darker turn. Try going back to episode eight and listening to the words.

How about the semicolon tattoo on Tony’s arm? Did you miss that? What about the glances and questions surrounding Jessica’s “encounter” the night of her party? Did you notice them?

In the next post, I’m going to delve a little deeper into what happens with Jessica, and how one incident can change a person forever. So stay tuned for that.

© Sarah Doughty

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16 thoughts on “Thirteen Reasons Why Discussion #4”

  1. We can all point to one incident that carries significant emotional impact. Add youth to that mix, when everything is huge and important and do or die and we feel the knife plunge into the heart of our innocence and the fairy tale is over. Or so we think. But it isn’t. No, there’s not sunshine on every cloudy day, or a friend like Lord Byron or Jesus or a doctor or drugs to cajole you out of whatever it was. But it ain’t over until the fat lady sings. No matter what the real and perceived hurts, If you’re still breathing, you’re not done. We weren’t put here to quit, we’re here to make a difference.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. One of the things that struck me the most was when Hannah cut her hair. Kind of trying to get a fresh start. Perhaps I noticed it because I have very similar hair to her, long curly/wavy. And I’ve done that when I’m going through something emotional, I’ll cut it really short. It’s like entering a new stage, and losing the weight of what’s come before.
    I was also struck by, and maybe you’ll touch on this in a later post, when she decides to give the world one last chance, she feels like she’s making these bold moves. Basically screaming “Help me!” And I could feel how desperate she was, and how it really felt to her like she was hanging this huge neon sign over her head, and felt let down when no one came through. And yet, from the outside, her actions were much more subtle and hard to pick up on if you weren’t seeing the whole picture.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, exactly. And I will touch on Hannah’s decline later, but cutting her hair was a sign that something was wrong. She wanted something to change, and she impulsively did it. She rationalized it was for a new start, but she really was screaming inside, especially when episode thirteen came along. She thought she made her cries for help blatantly obvious, but she downplayed everything to the point that if any alarm bells went off, she stifled them. But, she was imperfect and didn’t know where to go or what to do.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I didn’t notice the lyrics but I did notice the Colour tone throughout the Series and I am sure you would also have noticed most of the bad encounters Hannah face are at Night and when the season takes a drastic turn after Episode 10 the tone of the whole series is kinda mute…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s true most of the worst of what happens to Hannah happens at night, but, you also have to consider three tapes involved the night of Jessica’s party. It wasn’t so much the night, but what happened at the aforementioned party, and the one Hannah found in episode eleven. Thank you for reading and commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

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