13 Reasons Why: Shedding Light On Bullying And Mental Illness Or Glorifying Suicide?

13 Reasons Why

13 Reasons Why is a controversial three season long Netflix original directed in part by “Tom McCarthy” stirred the pot across the nation.  From previews and trailers, what was a seemingly twisted teenage drama at an initial glance panned out to be a much darker and deeper storyline.

13 Reasons Why Justin

The three part series begins succeeding the suicide of key character, Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford). After experiencing the utter shock from both Hannah’s parents and classmates the story begins to unfold in a rather unexpected manner. Main character Clay Jenson (Dylan Minnette) has a connection with Hannah that is somewhat elusive as it slowly builds throughout the season. He receives a shoebox containing audio cassette tapes recorded by Hannah leading up to her death – relaying a promise to explain why she did what she did and the events leading up to the tragedy.

As the story builds and we gain insight to the devastatingly traumatic events that Hannah withstood leading up to her death, we start to form this empathetic love towards her and a desire to know her more. The show has a way of making us feel deeply connected to the characters as if we are experiencing the events alongside them. The series brings up issues that arise in teens and schools such as struggles with sexual orientation, invasion of privacy and corruption among leaders. But more explicitly revealed to us is a world of graphic rape/nudity, severe bullying, brutal murders and tragedy that all took place among a group of teens within a high school.  Aside from the extreme issues portrayed that at times can be hard to view, you still have your standard teenage drama to smooth the surface and allow you to breathe in between scenes.

Now that you have a brief overview of the series “13 Reasons Why” let’s get down to the nitty gritty and talk about the controversial chatter that flooded the internet, news and radio stations – was this series a solid, light-shedding depiction of issues amongst teens or was it an unjust glorification of suicide? If you were like most people you were swamped with a gluttonous amount of bias information before you had the chance to pop some frigg’n popcorn and make your own observations and opinions (yes, I was a victim of this unfortunate overload of opinions if you were wondering).

13 Reasons Why TylerI didn’t hear many opinions favoring the idea of the show being a positive depiction of mental health issues and teen bullying but was indeed overwhelmed by the outpouring of shell -shocked parents and teachers along with local news stations extreme opposition to the racy content. Many were completely turned off to the idea of even viewing the series after the word got out about the plot revolving around teen suicide and the graphic depictions of the act. Understandably so, the somewhat disturbing truth behind the matter can be a tough pill to swallow and even harder to view.

The idea of the show somehow glorifying taking your own life was derived from the ongoing scenes of Hannah Baker living a sort of “afterlife” by watching her friends listen to her pre-recorded tapes and re-living her traumatic memories. The show plays this out in such a way that it takes on the look of an “unconventional murder mystery” which translated to some that once you’re dead you can somehow become vindicated by your acts of self-harm by pushing blame on all who harmed you (which unfortunately is not the case). Contrary to some beliefs, once you decide to take your life, you are gone. Not temporarily, not until you’re ready to resurface, but gone forever.  Hannah Bakers’ presence lingers to those who were prompted to listen to the tapes In order to hear her truth, feel her pain and in ways seek revenge to those who wronged her.  This is where the issues of an unrealistic portrayal of suicide and the afterlife came into play, deifying an act that is permanent and harmful to many more than just the victim.

13 Reasons Why Season 2Now, let’s take a look at the opposition. I’m not sure that there is a positive way to depict the raw truth about mental illness without doing it in such a way to save face”.  Sure, the show could have told the story of a severely traumatized, bullied teen that was struggling with negative feelings of self-worth and depression after being violently raped in a more graceful way… But that would defeat the purpose of what the show embodies. Truth. Whether ugly or pretty, tasteful or raw, truth is truth no matter the form it reveals itself in.  Though, more graphic than some people prefer the direction that the producers chose to take was not intended to tread lightly on people’s feelings or not offend the highly-offended (heaven forbid). The show was created to provoke emotion and to show things that are hidden in a dark corner and not talked about. The stigma attached to mental illness hinders anyone affected. Though “13 reasons why” offers some added shock value the intention is to allow the stigma to be broken.  They decided to show graphic details that are rarely portrayed in order to reveal what these issues truly look like and how they come in all different shapes and forms. Bullying is not just being teased for your weight or your physical appearance – it can be slut-shaming a young girl because she chose not to put out. Depression doesn’t always look “sad or helpless” it can be roaming the halls amongst hundreds of others smiling on the outside but dying on the inside.

This is what the producers of “13 Reasons Why” intended to do. Create thought provoking content that made people see these issues in another light. Recently, the Creator of the show, Brian Yorkey, removed the entire suicide scene from the first season in order to “do the most good for the most people while mitigating any risk for especially vulnerable young viewers”.  He continued with stating “No one scene is more important than the life of the show, and it’s message that we must take better care of each other”. That’s a good message to take with you.

Regardless of the backlash the show received for the heavy content, if you can get past some graphic, real-life scenes I would rate this show 100 percent binge worthy approved.

Why Viewers Love “The Good Place”


With every new TV season, there seems to be one new show that’s so fresh, so original and so thought-provoking that it immediately wins over audiences. In 2016, that show was NBC’s “The Good Place,” a fantasy-comedy series involving four characters trying to figure things out in a version of the afterlife. And now in 2017, Season 2 of “The Good Place” is shaping up to be just as good – if not better – than Season 1. Here’s why viewers love “The Good Place.”

“The Good Place” is a startlingly inventive TV show

The fundamental premise of “The Good Place” is that four human characters are stuck in a form of the afterlife that is modeled on a pseudo-utopia (and which looks just like suburban California). What these characters find out at the end of Season 1 is that they have actually been tricked into thinking that they are in “The Good Place,” when they are actually in “The Bad Place.” To put that into religious terms, they thought they were in heaven, but wake up to find out that they’re in hell.

“The Bad Place,” though, doesn’t look at all like what you’d expect. There is no fire, no brimstone, and no tormented souls, as you might expect after spending a Sunday in church. Instead, there’s a sarcastic, self-serving demon named Michael (played by Ted Danson) who has created “The Good Place” as an even more fiendish version of “The Bad Place.” He keeps working on versions of it, to get it just right.

You see, what he has figured out is that what is hellish about our existence on earth is “other people.” And he has figured out exactly the right combination of “souls” who will make each other’s lives miserable. Thus, he has figured out that the key to making the life of Eleanor Shellstrop (played by Kristen Bell) miserable is by pairing her with her eternal soulmate, a Nigerian ethics professor named Chidi (played by William Jackson Harper) who loves to talk philosophy and toss around the names of great thinkers. In contrast, Eleanor describes herself as “an Arizona dirt bag.”

“The Good Place” features a wonderfully talented cast led by Kristen Bell

The star of the show, of course, is Kristen Bell. She’s a hard-drinking, foul-mouthed gal who winds up in “The Good Place” by mistake. It turns out that someone else with the same name was supposed to get her place, but she was selected instead. In Season 1, she then makes a vow to stay forever in this (apparent) utopia.

But it is not just Kristen Bell who is wonderful on “The Good Place.” Her eternal soulmate, Chidi Anagonye (played by William Jackson Harper), is also amazing. What is so fascinating about the show are all the levels involved – in many episodes, the two appear to be fighting and feuding. But then in another, they appear to hook up and have a relationship together. It’s hard to tell exactly what’s happening, because the demon Michael (played by Ted Danson) keeps re-booting “The Good Place” to get things just right.

If there’s mega-star power in “The Good Place,” it’s Ted Danson, who plays the bowtie-wearing demon. In Season 1, he was amazing. But in Season 2, he’s really taking things to a whole new level. Now that the audience is in on the big plot twist from Season 1, he’s able to take on a new, more deceitful role. He’s basically an evil scam artist masquerading as a basically well-intentioned good guy. Which is why the four humans in his sector of the afterlife fell for it, hook, line and sinker.

“The Good Place” is intellectually challenging and thought-provoking

Can a 30-minute primetime sitcom really be thought-provoking? NBC’s “The Good Place” proves that it is possible. Just the whole premise of the show will stretch your mind. This premise is actually inspired by a famous French play, “No Exit,” by Jean-Paul Sartre. In that play, three characters find themselves trapped together in a room. They get on each other’s nerves, and by the end of the play, the verdict is clear: “Hell is other people.” You’ll recognize this basic concept immediately in “The Good Place.”

And there’s one more thing – the creator of this show, Michael Schur, is also the creative genius behind “Parks and Recreation” and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” He has said in an interview that he was always inspired by the show “Lost,” and was looking to create a similar type of show, with plenty of cliffhangers, plot twists and meta-level storytelling (stories inside stories inside stories).


Thus, Season 1 basically followed the template created by “Lost” – it featured cliffhangers in every episode, it included a major plot twist in the finale of Season 1 (what has been called “one of TV’s best finale twists ever”), and it includes plenty of clever scriptwriting that some critics have interpreted as being a form of meta-storytelling. In short, the show’s creators are having a second, private conversation with the show’s fans, at the same time as a casual TV watcher has no idea of what’s really going on.

Here’s just one example: at the beginning of Season 2, the demon Michael explains the rules of the road to his group of helpers: “We’re keeping everything from version one (of “The Good Place”) that made them miserable, but adding a whole bunch more that’s new.” You can read this on two levels – as a way of explaining what’s happening on the show, or as a form of coded communication with fans (“we’re going to make Season 2 even better, just wait”).

“The Good Place” never crosses the line with religion

As the show’s creators have pointed out repeatedly, this show is about ethical behavior, not religious dogma or religious salvation. The show is non-denominational, and does not explicitly take on religion. And that’s been a key to the show’s success: it’s more about ethics and doing the right thing, and less about trying to be preachy.

Thus, “The Good Place” has quickly become one of the most original and inventive shows on TV. It features an engaging cast, it has plenty of twists and cliffhangers, and it’s fun to watch on several different levels. Those are all the reasons why viewers love “The Good Place.”


Meet Adam Levine, One of the Most Famous Singers in the World

International singing sensation Adam Levine is best known as the lead singer for popular music band Maroon 5. But did you know that he’s also an actor, record producer and entrepreneur? He’s also a coach on the popular NBC reality TV show “The Voice.” Without a doubt, the 38-year-old Levine has proven himself to be an extraordinarily talented and gifted performer.

Levine was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. At the age of 15, he started his musical career by launching a garage band, Kara’s Flowers, with a few of his high school friends. In the band, he was the lead vocalist and guitarist. The band released only one album – The Fourth World – in 1997, but it did not gain any real traction, and the band later broke up. But that initial experience later paid off in 2001, when the band re-formed, added a new guitarist (James Valentine) and renamed themselves Maroon 5. From there, the rest is history.

Maroon 5

Levine officially launched the pop rock band Maroon 5 in 2001. In 2002, the band’s first album (Songs About Jane) went multi-platinum, and paved the way for him to become an international singing sensation. Since 2002, Maroon 5 has released four more albums, each of them seemingly more popular than the last. In 2007, the band released It Won’t Be Soon Before Long, and followed that up with Hands All Over (2010), Overexposed (2012) and V (2014). He has also released two singles, “Don’t Wanna Know” and “Cold.”

It’s not only that Maroon 5 has turned into one of the bestselling bands in the world – they have also been critically acclaimed, picking up a number of awards. For his role with Maroon 5, Levine has picked up 3 Grammy Awards, 2 Billboard Music Awards, 2 American Music Awards, an MTV Video Music Award and a World Music Award.

While Maroon 5’s first two albums had their share of hits and Grammy-nominated songs, it wasn’t until 2010 that the band really became a household name with the release of “Moves Like Jagger.” The single became the ninth-bestselling digital single of 2011 with sales of 8.5 million copies. In later interviews, Levine would credit that song with “totally reviving the band.” In fact, ever since 2007, rumors had been circulating that Maroon 5 would be breaking up. The success of Hands All Over put an end to those rumors.

In 2012, the band opted for a more dance-driven approach with the release of Overexposed. And that really paid off for Levine and his band mates. The album and its lead single, “Payphone,” resulted in the band’s second Grammy win for “Best Pop Vocal Album.” The group also picked up a Grammy nomination for “Best Pop Duo/Group Performance.”

That led to the band’s fifth studio album, appropriately named V. The group quickly released five singles from the album, and then kicked off the Maroon 5 World Tour, which firmly established the group as one of the most popular in the world.

NBC reality TV show “The Voice”

Of course, there’s more to Adam Levine than just being one of the most popular and successful singers in the world. He’s also a voice coach for the NBC reality TV show “The Voice.” He has been on “The Voice” since 2011, which has led to a string of nominations and awards. In 2011, 2013 and 2014 he was nominated for a Teen Choice Award. And in 2013, he was nominated for People’s Choice Award for Favorite Celebrity Judge.

Other film and TV

Levine’s charismatic personality has led to a number of other film and TV appearances. In fact, in 2012, he made his acting debut in the film “Begin Again.” That led to an appearance in the 2015 film “Pitch Perfect 2” (where he played himself),as well as appearances in “Klown Forever” (2015) and “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping” (2015).

On TV, Levine first appeared in an episode of “Beverly Hills, 90210” back in 1997. That was when he was still a member of his first rock band, Kara’s Flowers. He has appeared 7 times on “Saturday Night Live” as a musical guest or host. In 2009, he appeared in an episode of “30 Rock.” Then, in 2012, he appeared in 3 episodes of “American Horror Story: Asylum.” In 2013, he appeared in one episode of “Family Guy” and in 2016, he appeared in one episode of “Broad City.”

Entrepreneurial ventures

Starting in 2008, Levine has engaged in a number of business and entrepreneurial ventures that have largely leveraged his success as a pop music star. In 2008, for example, Levine created the First Act 222 Guitar, which was available for sale at Target retail stores. In February 2012, Levine founded his own record label, known as 222 Records.

But that was only the beginning of extending his brand into other fields. In 2013, for example, Levine worked with ID Perfumes to created a unique fragrance named after him. The fragrance range includes scents for both men and women and his sold at Macy’s department stores in bottles that are shaped like microphones. In 2013, he also became a celebrity spokesperson for Proactiv, a company that sells acne-fighting products. In 2013, at the peak of his popularity, he worked out a deal with Sears Holdings (which owns K-Mart and ShopYourWay) to create a menswear collection that is sold in 500 K-Mart stores and online. In his interviews, Levine has credited the unique collaboration for giving him total creative control – so if you’re buying a shirt or jacket with his name on it, you can be assured that it’s something that Levine would wear himself.

A winning formula for total success

As you can see, Levine has enjoyed incredible success in so many different fields. His work as a music artist is by now unquestioned, thanks to record sales and so many Grammy nominations. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Levine now makes more than $35 million each year from all of his related artistic projects – and that doesn’t even include the money he makes from his recent fragrance and menswear deals. And, best of all, he got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in February 2017.

Going forward, what can we expect from Adam Levine? It could be the case that we’ll see even more success from his record company, 222 Records. One of the first people signed to the label is Tony Lucca, a member of Team Adam on Season 2 of “The Voice.” He’s now working on building out that record label, including more of an emphasis on distribution, marketing and PR.

Based on Levine’s tremendous success with Maroon 5, it could be the case that we’ll be hearing another record drop from them soon, followed up by another mega-world tour. In 2017, Maroon 5 released a video for the song “Cold,” which will debut on their upcoming studio album. For all these reasons, Adam Levine is now perhaps one of the most recognizable celebrities in the world.