The Problem With 13 Reasons Why

I’m not going to take back my opinions of how good the show is, because it is, but I do have one issue that I can’t get past from.

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Last week I was working on on a post about books and shows that portray characters dealing with mental issues. Initially, I had 13 Reasons Why on the list, but then it dawned on me that it also didn’t belong on that list (sort of like Clay). The other books on the list talked about mental health and how debilitating and problematic it can be to live with them, but they all had one thing in common. Their protagonists received the help they needed. None of them died. For those reasons, I found myself removing 13RW from that list.

On a post that’s about dealing with mental illness, I didn’t want to include a story whose character dies in the end. I wanted it to be more positive, to let people know that there can be an issue, and more importantly a solution to it too.

I know that in the real world it doesn’t always end on a happy note, and 13RW reflects that, but shouldn’t we also be able show how people can overcome it? In the show, Hannah doesn’t get help. She only talks to one person who fails to see the problem, and then she gives up. She could have talked to her parents or friends, but chooses to give up easily. That’s not the right message to show people already struggling with similar thoughts.

What’s even more mind boggling is that the show never addresses the possibility that Hannah might have been suffering from some type of mental illness. In my opinion, this a failure on part of the show because most suicide victims also suffer from mental illness.

Everyone is talking about how great the show is and how it’s raising awareness on serious topics, but without someone saying there is another way to cope with these hardships, it’s hard to get past this glorification of suicide. I’m afraid people aren’t going to see the message the creators of the series originally intended to show its audience.

Moving forward, I hope 13RW remedies this problem by having other characters get the help they need, like Jessica. Because more than anything, people need to hear the words, It will get better.” 

As someone who has experienced issues with mental illness, showing how other people get through it, can motivate others do the same.

 

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Mental Health in Books and TV

May is mental health awareness month. It’s a topic I think is important and should be talked about more without the negative stigma associated with it.

I for one, have struggled with anxiety in the past. However, I received help from professionals, and a great support system from family and friends (and my dog). At first, I didn’t recognize the signs or that I had a problem until I realized I wasn’t living the life I wanted. I had stopped eating normally, falling asleep was difficult, my thoughts were constantly racing and swirling in my head at all hours the day (and night), and I stopped going outside. At that moment, I knew I had to say something, ask for help.

It wasn’t easy, or fun, or quick to fix. There were a lot of aches, tears, and difficulties to get to the comfortable place I am today, but it all started with asking for help. My only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner. I also want to say that recovering from that crippling anxiety is nonstop, and it’s something I’m still coping with. As corny and cliche as it sounds, if you get help it will get better. It has to.

Since my personal experience with mental health, I worry a lot of how the issue is being depicted. I worry because there are so many misconceptions about the subject, that it’s hard to find stories that get it right.

Anyway, here are some of my favorite books and shows that get it right.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

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In this book we follow Cath, a brand new college student coping with all the changes that it comes with attending university for the first time. And she’s completely alone since her twin sister decided to hang out with a new crowd that doesn’t involve Cath. At first I just thought Cath was super relatable in how she sees the world and copes with it, until someone pointed out that it’s also about anxiety. The issues presented in this book are not the focus of the story in the same way others are on this list, but they are present. Alcoholism and depression also make an appearance.

The Problem With Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout

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Mallory suffers from selective mutism (an anxiety disorder) after years of abuse in the foster care system, but with her adoption and years of hard work, she’s finally gotten her voice back and decides to to go to public school for the first time in years.

What I adored about Mallory is that she really shows how recovery works concerning anxiety disorders. For people that have never had anxiety disorders (or any disorder) it might be weird to see someone get so ecstatic over simple things like talking to a stranger, but the excitement Mallory shows over these things is genuine. She also knows it’s okay to have bad days and stay in bed all day as long as you get back up the next day and move forward. FULL REVIEW.

Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow

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Charlie has had a short but painful and difficult life, which she copes with by cutting herself. It’s not until she goes into treatment she begins to get the right help, however she is soon left to her own devices when she’s forced to walk out of the rehab center. Now she’s on her own and desperately trying get better on her own.

This book showcases a lot of mental health issues apart from self mutilation and it’s a dark read, but it’s incredibly touching to see Charlie’s journey of recovery. She demonstrates the hardships that comes with the territory and the many infuriating bumps along the way. But in the end, all I could do was root for her to make the right decisions instead of the wrong ones (and there were a couple). It also has one of the most bittersweet endings I’ve ever read which  made me bawl like a baby. FULL REVIEW.

Legend of Korra, Book 4: Balance

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SPOILERS BELOW! IF YOU DON’T WANT TO BE SPOILED, DON’T READ THIS SECTION. JUST KNOW, THIS SHOW BELONGS ON THIS LIST. 

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Avatar Korra is a headstrong young woman whose job is to maintain balance in the world. Throughout the series she is very confident in her abilities and immensely strong too, but in book 3’s finale she suffers a setback when she’s almost killed in battle. In book 4, we see her deal with the aftermath of that fight, which has left her in deprssed and in a wheelchair. Her problems may start out to be purely physical, but she soon realizes that it’s also her mental state that’s in trouble. For the rest of the season she continues to cope with her loss and receive help from various people.

What really surprises me about this show is that it deviates from the normal animated shows. It’s simply not normal to see an animated show on nickelodeon take on a story about mental health and trauma. What’s even more surprising is that they did take their time with the character’s healing process. They don’t rush it and that’s very important to show, because mental health issues are not that easy to fix, they do take time. I also appreciated that it was a strong character who went through with this, because it shows that it can happen to anyone. It reminds us that mental illness does not discriminate. FULL REVIEW.

What is Fatmagul’s Fault? (Turkish Drama)

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This Turkish TV drama revolves around a young woman, Fatmagul, who was brutally raped by three men and the repercussions after the rape. The reason I put this on the list is because it’s one of the very few rape story lines that didn’t bother me on television. They attend to the issue and although Fatmagul’s healing process is painfully slow (for some viewers), it’s also done right because she receives help. Most of the time, when rape is portrayed on TV it’s glossed over so the story goes on to the next exciting thing, but in this drama they do a great job of addressing the issues that come with it, from confronting it head on, to the social stigma, and how it affects future relationships. It’s not just Fatmagul who has to deal with what happened, but everyone else who was directly or indirectly involved in it and those who tried to hide it.

It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

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When Craig almost commits suicide, he hospitalizes himself to receive help and treatment for his depression. Vizzini, who has struggled with depression himself, shows all the different ways depression manifests itself through eating disorders, sleeping disorders, and substance abuse. It’s honest, relatable, and a realistic portrayal of a serious issue. However, as the title suggests, the story is not all sad and gloom… or gritty. He takes depression for what it is.

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Review: 13 Reasons Why (Season 1)

TITLE: 13 Reasons Why Image result for thirteen reasons why netflix
SEASONS: 1 (for now)
NETWORK: Netflix
EPISODES: 13
SUMMARY: After Hannah Baker commits suicide, she leaves 13 tapes explaining why she killed herself.
GENRE: Teen Drama | Mystery
NOTE: Adapted from Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher.
WARNING: Definitely not suitable for younger teens, it has several topics including, rape, suicide, substance abuse, and bullying.
RATING: N/A Continue reading

I Don’t Like Horror Movies but I Watch Horror Shows

This semester, I’ve been taking a literature class that’s focused on the horror / weird genre. I was worried at the beginning of the course because I try my best to stay away from that genre in books and movies, but I’ve slowly noticed that that’s not true for the TV shows I watch.  In fact, some of my favorite shows could be considered part of the horror genre. So, here’s the list of horror shows I’ve watched.

Buffy: The Vampire Slayer

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ORIGINAL RUN: 1997 – 2003
TOTAL SEASONS: 7
PREMISE: Buffy Summers is a normal teenage girl by day and the OG demon hunter by night, long before Shadowhunters ever existed.

I never watched Buffy when it was on air, but I did watch it a couple of years ago on Netflix, and I’m watching it again along with Rewatchable Podcast from Hypable. While it’s definitely a product of it’s time, Buffy has some of the most memorable and my favorite episodes in any of the shows that I’ve watched. “Hush” is one of my favorite episodes from the series, with one of the most terrifying monsters called the “gentlemen.”

Stranger Things

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ORIGINAL RUN: 2016 – Ongoing
PREMISE: When middle schooler, Will, goes missing, his friends and family set out to find him among the many weird and horrific events taking place in their town.

I didn’t know what to expect from Stranger Things, other than something strange. I bought into the hype and I wasn’t disappointed by it. From the first episode, I was equally horrified and intrigued by it, so of course I binged the entire season within 48 hours or less. The story of Stranger Things looks like it could be pulled out from the collection of stories I’m currently reading for class this semester, it belongs there. In only 8 episodes (and 48 hours of binging) I was introduced to some scary powerful kid, creepy government labs, the upside down world, large demagorgan monster, and even more creepy signs and messages. The first scene of the show scared me enough that I had nightmares that night. Even in the moments that everything appears to be fine, I was still horrified because something always happens.

The Vampire Diaries

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ORIGINAL RUN: 2010 – 2017
TOTAL SEASONS:  8
PREMISE: Elena is a normal teenage girl until she finds herself in the middle of a love triangle between two handsome vampire brothers.

At the height of the vampire hype, Vampire Diaries came into being with cheesy and sometimes cliché storylines, but it did keep me watching for 8 seasons until it’s series finale this past Friday. A moment of silence please…

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In spite all the romance, recurring storylines, and eerily familiar Buffy similarities, The Vampire Diaries still managed to scare me. Sure, it doesn’t compare to some of the others on the list but with it’s vampires, werewolves, and witches running loose, the dark forest scenes, unexpected deaths, and gore, it’s enough to scare me.

The Walking Dead

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ORIGINAL RUN: 2010 – Ongoing
PREMISE: Rick Grimes wakes up months after being in a coma and finds himself in the midst of the zombie apocalypse.

This is the only one show on the list where gross and horror truly come together. Sometimes, I don’t know if I’m scared because they are zombies, or I’m so grossed out that I get scared. Whatever the reason may be, the show exploits it and makes for some truly horrifying scenes from a sickening zombie in a well, to making me think something is going to pop out, it all equally scares and disgusts me… and somehow I keep on watching.

Pretty Little Liars

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ORIGINAL RUN: 2010 – 2017 (final season will finish airing this year)
TOTAL SEASONS: 7
PREMISE: Four teenage girls begin to receive mysterious messages from A after their friend goes missing.

The show is not exactly horrifying in the same way as the other shows mentioned on this list. Instead, it’s more mysterious and thriller and less gory and gross, but it still managed to scare me. The terrifying thought that someone is constantly following you and knows all your secrets should be enough to scare anyone, but the dangerous situations, dark places, creepy clues, creepy dolls, and creepy people, just add to the horror of it all. Unfortunately, the repetitive plots and A’s identity constantly switching and changing, kept me from ever finishing the series.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

These are the series that could be considered horror but I haven’t finished the series, watched enough to decide, or I’m just unsure if they would fall under this category.

  • Containment
  • American Horror Story
  • Bones
  • Angel
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Because 3 of his shows have been mentioned (Buffy, Angel, and Bones)

  • The Originals
  • Being Human
  • Game of Thrones
  • How to Get Away With Murder
  • Lost

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Shows I Can’t Wait to Watch on Netflix

I practically don’t have cable which means that most of the TV that I do watch are either telenovelas on Telemundo and other local channels (biggest guilty pleasure ever, but is it really if I own it?) or Netflix. That’s not to mention the several TV show season that I start watching and then stop for whatever reason. Therefore, I was so excited to see that Netflix added new content. Let’s break it down.

Most Anticipated

For most of these shows I can’t remember what happened in the last episode, but that’s not the case with The Walking Dead or The Fosters. Their season finales both had me on the edge of my seat, so you can already imagine that they will be the first shows I’ll be watching.
– The Walking Dead
– The Fosters

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The Comedies

These are shows that I always go to for a good laugh especially after I watch something heartbreaking like The Walking Dead or The Fosters.
– New Girl
– Young and Hungry

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Proof of my Stubborn Will to Finish a Series

I think that title summed it all up. I have already invested time watching these shows, so I’m not going to stop now.
– Once Upon a Time
– Bones*

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*I’m watching Angel for the first time along with re-watchable, and David Boreanaz is the protagonist. It will be funny to see two very different characters played by the same man at the same time.

Still Anticipating

As excited as I am for all these shows, Netflix still doesn’t have Season 7 of The Vampire Diaries or more importantly Season 3 of The 100. I started watching both shows ad they aired but life got in the way and I didn’t finish either season, both of which were starting out really, really, really, good!
– The Vampire Diaries
– The 100

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No Category

I’m not even sure how or why I started watching Zoo, the story is weird but it kept me entertained and I fell in love with the characters. Plus, Billy Burke is in it… Don’t ask.
– ZooImage result for zoo season 2 poster

Pleasant Surprises

So me and my mom bond over telenovelas. You know those stereotypical and unrealistic shows with convenient plot points, and over the top performances by actors? Emphasis on the word “stereotypical” because not all of them are like that, especially Turkish dramas. Within the last year, I have obsessed over these shows! So excuse me for practically hyperventilating when I found out Netflix had acquired the following Turkish dramas (especially the first one because I missed it when it aired on TV). Honestly, out of this list, these shows made me the happiest.
– Magnificent Century
– Love Bird

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So what show are you watching? What show do you recommend? What show should I add to this list? And happy binge watching!

UPDATE: I’ve already watched the first two episodes of The Fosters and I’m almost done with Once Upon a Time.

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3 Very Good Reasons to Watch Ouran High School Host Club

Quick Summary: When honor student, Haruhi, stumbles in on the school’s Host Club and breaks a very expensive vase she is then forced to work with them to repay them.  “The Ouran Host Club is where the schools handsomest boys with too much time on their hands, entertain young ladies who also have way too much time on their hands.” And yes that is a direct line from the show. And yes, Haruhi is a girl and still forced to work as boy to repay this prestigious club.

Gender Norms? Out the Window: Girls dress like boys and boys dress like girls. No one is super offended by it. Some people even fawn over it. There’s a transgender character and people accept it, no questions asked. There is no real questioning about any of it and it’s weird at first BUT it’s absolutely perfect.

It’s Absolutely Ridiculous and They Know It: The best part of this entire show is how self-aware they are of their own ridiculousness. Whoever created this masterpiece knew how absurd these characters are and they make sure to point it out to you. It’s part of the comedy.

Peel Away the Onions and You Will Cry: As shallow and weird as some of these characters appear to be, there is more than meets the eye. All of them have unexpected and surprising backstories. The least qualified person suddenly becomes a terrifying martial artist. The person who looks like they have their stuff together suddenly doesn’t. Yup, just peel one layer at a time and you will find real honest characters who are only attempting to hide their major flaws.

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9 Very Good Reasons to Watch Avatar: The Last Airbender & Legend of Korra

One of favorite shows in the world and all time is Avatar. No, not the James Cameron blue rat people avatars, but Nickelodeon’s Avatar: the Last Airbender and Legend of Korra. It’s absolutely amazing! And before anyone says anything, yes it’s animated, and no it’s not a kids show.

It’s Not a Kids Slegend-of-korra-wallpaper-for-desktophow: Like I said before, yes it’s animated, no it’s not a kids show. It is so different from kids show in that it has very adult themes as part of the story. It talks about war, genocide, child abuse, brutal death scenes among other things. It’s one of those shows where kids can watch it and understand it, but adults will also be intrigued by the story and understand certain things kids won’t. In this aspect, Avatar is a very smart show because it appeals to everyone.

The World Building: The world where the story takes place is amazing. From the fighting styles and the bending which is very beautiful, to the beautiful scenery all of over this imaginary world. One of my favorite parts of the show is the animals you will encounter watching the show. None of the animals are real, instead they are all hybrids of different combinations; Platypus-Bear, Buzzard-Wasp, Polar Bear-Dog, Turtle-Duck (the name of my blog), and so on. The imagination Bryke had for this show is seen in every single episode.

The Fantasy Aspect: This part of the show I like to compare it to compare it to Game of Thrones and their world. Both have dragons and some magical elements that don’t belong to our world, but the fantasy doesn’t overwhelm the actual story. It’s not like in Harry Potter or Vampire Diaries where part of the world is hidden from the muggles, everyone in Avatar is aware of bending or “magic.”  The character’s problems won’t be resolved by magic, most of the time they have to find a normal solutions to it. The wars fought in the series won’t be resolved by some voodoo magical witch.

Continuation and Consequences: One of my favorite things about this show is that although it’s animated, it acts like a live action show. If a character gets hurt in one episode you will see that they are still hurt in the following episode. It’s not like Northern_Air_Temple_in_171_AG.pngSpongeBob where there’s a reset button and everything is magically okay the following episode.

The Comedy: Whenever I re-watch this show I’m always surprised by how funny it is. I’m even more surprised when they laugh at themselves. And here is a little spoiler: there’s a whole episode parodying itself and it’s the best thing in the world.

Badass Women: In this action packed fantasy world, the women don’t lag behind the men. If anything they are on par with the male characters and sometimes even surpass them in power. In this world it’s common for the villains to be either girls or boys, it’s common to see female or male rulers, it’s common and it’s accepted and there is no question about it. It just is and it’s awesome.

Diversity, diversity, and more diversity: If there is one thing this show has is f&%$-ing diversity. There are people of every color of the rainbow. There are people who are blind or have missing limbs, and neither of these things matter because they keep kicking ass. There are people kicking ass at any age. And again it’s awesome.

Characters are like cabbages, they have layers: The characters are not so black and white. Some of them are immensely complex and go through their own personal journeys. Good guys go through it and bad guys go through it too. It’s the classic but complex story of bad guys turning good, and good people turning bad (a few… okay 1 person, sort of… but still!)

It’s a world of puns: Once you finish the series you will find yourself with a world of puns and inside jokes. For example; cabbages, hope, honor and tea.

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