One of the things that I did this week, was I watched the Netflix series “13 Reasons Why,” based on the book by Jay Asher. I haven’t read the book, so I cannot tell you how it stacked up, and this isn’t really going to be a review in the strict sense of the word.
During the summer in between my freshman and sophomore years of high school, I wrote my first screenplay. It was called Blood Stained Hearts—a title my friends assured me was absolutely terrible, and one friend nicknamed the screenplay “Shit Stained Brains”— about a high school student, who was being bullied, and kills himself. The character (who’s name I cannot remember) calls out his bullies in his suicide note, and the movie is about them all dealing with guilt and the other emotions that would come with this situation. I spent the entire sophomore year trying to get the movie made, but due to the script having some swearing, and the subject matter, my Catholic school wouldn’t let me do it at school. Eventually I moved on. Over the years, I’ve thought about rewriting, and trying again, but have never followed through, because I haven’t been sure if I could do it without making it too melodramatic.
Then I watched this show, and after the first or second episode, I realized that it was a MUCH better version of that same basic idea. In what I had written, the bullies were two-dimensional caricatures, loosely based on actual bullies I had dealt with, and I had never considered them real people, in Netflix’s version almost every character is extremely well written, and fully developed.
The execution of the show is somewhat like that of a detective story, and things keep getting revealed, building intensity and keeping me hooked for the couple days it took to watch all thirteen episodes.
For me the show means two things, one that I can never revisit the idea of making Blood Stained Hearts, because it would be a poorly made knock-off of “13 Reasons Why.” The second thing is that I finally got to see this idea realized, but in such a better way than I could have imagined. The truth is, at sixteen when I wrote the screenplay, my writing in general wasn’t deep enough for the subject matter, but also I was far too close to it.
I think that the show was arguably the best depiction of bullying and suicide I’ve ever seen, and I do think that teenagers should have to watch it. It humanizes the bullies, but also shows the impact of not looking at our own actions. It does a great job of dealing with responsibility, not only of the bullies, but of the bullied, and the witnesses.
I definitely recommend that you watch the show, it’s enthralling, and even if you don’t learn anything from it, I think you’ll be hooked from the first or second episode. Just watch it, it’s great I promise!
Have you already watched it? What did you think? Tell me in the comments.