Mainstream TV tries to take on tough topics

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Warning: Plotlines of the TV shows featured in this article include suicide and sexually aggressive crimes. Reader discretion is advised. 

There are a million little things I love about “13 Reasons Why,” but there is only one reason why season three was the worst, yet most powerful season yet — pun intended.

TV and Netflix dramas like “A Million Little Things” and “13 Reasons Why” shine a light on important issues in the modern world. Bullying, sexual abuse, homicide, terminal illnesses and suicide take up the majority of screen time for both of these shows.

“A Million Little Things,” for those who haven’t watched, is a TV show about a group of friends, all of whom are grown adults around the age 40, and all have been challenged to carry their own crosses. Whether it is cancer, mental illness or relationship infidelity, each character takes on a particular struggle that, at one point or another, brings them to rock bottom.

The show is based on the “million little things” that contributed to one of the character’s decisions to take his own life. The show’s purpose is to shine a light on a very disturbing and difficult topic, allowing the audience to be aware of suicide, and maybe even potentially learn a thing or two about the importance of self-care and awareness of others.

Throughout “A Million Little Things,” the lives of each character are impacted drastically by the sudden death of one of their friends, which leads secrets and insecurities to be dug up. Through significant grieving and an abundance of struggles, the group leans on each other to stay strong through the pain. They see that there is a light at the end of, what seems to be, a very long tunnel.

The writers and directors of this series, in my opinion, are brilliant. They took very dark, uncomfortable topics in society, and turned them into an educational and promising storyline. No one likes to talk about death or illness — everyone wants a happy ending. But the unfortunate reality is that we live in a world where there are some dark times, and sometimes it may feel like there is no light at the end of the tunnel.

This show helps people realize that they aren’t alone. No matter how difficult times may get, there are always people who are willing to bend over backwards for you. You could find this in a family member, a friend, a professor or even a counselor. No matter the person or the group of people who help you get through tough times, you are never alone.

The second season premiers on Sept. 26, and I wouldn’t want to miss it.

“13 Reasons Why,” on the other hand, delves into several issues in the darkest, most explicit manner possible, which I don’t think is the most effective in addressing these topics. Topics of suicide, sexual assault and drug addiction are prevalent in this show, and are addressed in-depth.

The first season addresses reasons that could potentially lead to suicide, as well as the background and raw emotion that comes with it. The second season addresses bullying and assault, while ending the season with a possible school-shooting cliffhanger. The third season, instead of addressing an issue and how it arises,  is almost like a murder-mystery investigation, but the murdered character wasn’t of a fan favorite. It was Bryce Walker — the rapist and antagonist from the previous two seasons.

Throughout the first two seasons, Walker was pegged as the villain, haunting the lives of basically every other character in the show. However, in the last season, Walker was shown as a victim — almost like he was sick and in remission, but in the end, despite his efforts to become a better person, he was murdered in cold blood.

There is always a place for people to turn their lives around — and I hope that everyone feels sorry for their mistakes — but this season in particular victimizes the villain while being insensitive to those who have been through traumatic events.

Not only was the plot insensitive in this season, but I also believe that the show in its entirely is extremely graphic and could potentially be triggering to those who have experienced similar events, specifically those who have considered taking or attempted to take their own lives.

The topics addressed in “13 Reasons Why” are real world issues — ones which need to be addressed and not swept under the rug, but I believe the TV show could be more effective if viewers could watch it without closing their eyes because it was too graphic, and many critics agree, which is why many explicit scenes have been deleted post-release. The show is on contract for a fourth season, so hopefully they can return to highlighting societal issues in a respectful and meaningful manner.

With World Suicide Prevention Day taking place in September, it is important to always remember that silence can be loud, and that you are never alone through it all. It is time for us all to stand still and listen to the silence of others. Go ahead — we are listening.

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