Based on a novel about the suicide of 17-year-old Hannah Baker, Netflix’s buzzy 13 Reasons Why has been heaped with praise for its compelling storytelling and the complex, taboo issues it tackles. However, concerns have mounted over the show’s depiction of Baker’s suicide, including arguments that the show romanticizes it and that the scene itself is far too graphic and even triggering for those who struggle with suicidal thoughts. Now, Selena Gomez, a co-executive producer on the show, has stepped forward to say her piece.
Her statements comes about a week and a half after 13 Reasons Why writer Nic Sheff took to Vanity Fair to defend the show, writing poignantly about how his own attempted suicide informed his work on the show. He also explained that the writers room hoped to show that “suicide isn’t a painless escape from problems, as so many people think, but an ‘excruciating, violent end to all hopes and dreams.”
In an interview with the Associated Press, Gomez spoke about the show, its success, and the controversy around it, acknowledging that, given the complex, nuanced subject manner, backlash was pretty much inevitable.
“We wanted to do it justice and, yeah, [the backlash is] gonna come no matter what,” she said. “It’s not an easy subject to talk about, but I’m very fortunate with how it’s doing.”
Before that, Gomez spoke with E! News advocating for the show’s messaging and noting how it’s broken down taboos to open a wider (and necessary) cultural conversation around an oft-stigmatized subject.
“I’m a little overwhelmed and very surprised,” she said, referring initially to the show’s success. “I mean, I believed in the project for so long, and I understood what the message was. I just wanted it to come across in a way that kids would be frightened, but confused—in a way that they would talk about it because it’s something that’s happening all the time…I’m overwhelmed that’s it’s doing as well as it’s doing.”
-13 Reasons Why Writer Nic Sheff Defends the Show’s Depiction of Suicide
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