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An Open Letter to Stan Twitter: ’13 Reasons Why’ Is Not About Who Deserved Better

Warning: this article discusses suicide and contains spoilers.

Practically everyone’s talking about the newest Netflix sensation: 13 Reasons Why. If you haven’t watched it already, I don’t know what you’re waiting for. It’s a thirteen episode show where Hannah Baker outlines the thirteen reasons she killed herself on thirteen tapes, all for the listening pleasure of each person who led her closer to her suicide.

Whether people liked or didn’t like the show, it’s done one thing right: it’s gotten people talking about mental health, and more importantly, how our actions can impact someone else’s mental health. But of course, as the guilt begins to wear off, people are beginning to talk about less important things.

Specifically, many members of “stan twitter” have begun focusing more on “Jeff Atkins deserving better” or Alex Standall not deserving to die. Obviously, it’s okay to have opinions on the events that occur on TV shows. But unlike Grey’s Anatomy or The Walking Dead, these deaths are not just events that occur to raise show viewership. Jeff Atkins was a minor character who died to support one of the major themes of the show: your actions have consequences that could potentially end a life. As observed by some fans on Tumblr, Alex’s death could’ve been used to symbolize how easy it is to miss the signs that someone is suicidal.

Some are going as far as to say Hannah Baker “overreacted” when she put Zach on the tapes. If you’re saying any of the reasons are an overreaction, you completely misinterpreted the show. Another major theme of the show was that we don’t know how our actions are going to affect others, no matter how small. Because of this, we should always try our best to make sure our actions are positive. The seemingly insignificant, childish actions Zach made were placed in the show to further this theme. Not only that, it also introduces the idea that we don’t know what’s going on in someone’s life, and we don’t know how something that may have seemed funny at first could make someone feel.

Although this is a lot less common than the rest, people are saying they “forgive” Bryce because he’s “hot.” Stan twitter, if you really think the actor is that hot, then stan the actor. You don’t have to like the character in the show. It’s even disrespectful to the actor, Justin Prentice, to think in this way. He’s the one who’s hot, not Bryce. He is not Bryce and deserves to be commended to be playing such a horrible character, not be defined by a fictional person. His efforts to portray such a nasty facet of the mind of a high school male should be appreciated through understanding just how horrible people like Bryce are. Secondly, justifying rape because the person is attractive or young is the reason why people like Brock Turner only get three months in jail for rape.

And of course, the common trend amongst all these characters is that they’re male and they’re physically appealing—therefore, we naturally feel the need to defend them or at least discuss them, whether good or bad. Which is okay—I’m not asking you to stop discussing the drama of the show. But please, while the show still remains relevant, I am asking you to start thinking and talking about the deeper meaning. Start thinking about how you’re going to change. Most importantly, start trying to save who you can.

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Hannah Yusuf is a Michigan native and is currently a junior in high school. When she's not reading, she's writing. And when she's not writing, she's sleeping. (Just kidding. Sort of.) In addition to literature, she enjoys math and science. She aspires to become a professional novelist and anesthesiologist, but more than that, she hopes to use her writing and voice to make a large impact in the world.

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