Over the past few months in moments of downtime, I’ve enjoyed sitting back and watching a few TV shows that are without a doubt popular right now. What’s striking (or maybe not) is the content and the ideas that are being discussed. So this is a non-yogic blog, or is it? You be the judge.
13 Reasons Why
Based on the best-selling books by Jay Asher, this show follows teenager Clay Jensen as he returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers a group of cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker-his classmate and crush-who tragically committed suicide two weeks earlier. On tape, Hannah unfolds an emotional audio diary, detailing the thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Through Hannah and Clay’s dual narratives, Thirteen Reasons Why weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation.Now this is not the first time tv/movies have highlighted teen mental health. You might be able to recall the 1990 film “Pump up the Volume”, or the iconic 1988 “Heathers”. Both of these films depict teenagers in high school struggling to understand what it means to be alive, to be popular, to be accepted for who they are, as does the heroin of 13 Reasons Why, Hannah Baker. So why is this show different?
I’m grateful I grew up without the internet; I mean I got my first email address as a freshman in college and at that point, chat rooms were all the rage, there was no such thing as ‘social media’. It was this rather unique tool at the time. A novelty, something checked periodically, not minute by minute. 13 Reasons demonstrates the effects of social media on our youth, and touches on truly dismantling events such as rape, “boys will be boys” mentality, classism, friendship, betrayal and self-loathing. Small things can have massive mental implications on a teenager whose brain is somewhat incapable of recognizing something small as “not a huge deal”, because to them, school, friends, family… all of that IS their entire existence. And it’s not just kids that are plagued with these small things, so this show is relatable to all age groups, but opens the door for kids to realize they aren’t alone and learn, suicide has very negative implications to others. It might just support a teen who is struggling to reach out, like Hannah couldn’t.
The show has mixed reviews but I found it powerful. Many people don’t understand how or why someone could reach the point of being suicidal. Yet according the the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, approximately 121 people commit suicide each day. I do not believe this show glorifies suicide in any way, but rather focuses around a subject people don’t like to think about (or many subjects).
Big Little Lies
This show based on the book written by Liane Moriarty portrays the seemingly perfect lives of various women living in Monteray, CA. With mansion beach houses, cars for days and beatific couples with picturesque children- what could be wrong? Well, everything. The show starts off depicting a murder, but you don’t know who has died and the stories of the lives of these women unfold until the brutal end, which rounds back to the beginning; the act of murder and why it happened.
What makes us hide behind our secrets? Why are we afraid to face the hard truths? This drama packed show elevates the reality that keeping up with the Jones’s is a legit dynamic and the pressure is on the be perfect. Not just for these characters, but for all of us. We avoid the darkness and elevate the light (especially on social media) and this show reminds us time and time again, eventually one way or another, the darkness will reveal itself. Rape, domestic violence, cheating, lying and murder are all shown in a movie-fashioned yet, pretty realistic way.
The Handmaids Tale
This stunning show is a portrait of Margret Atwood’s astounding 1985 novel. The short and sweet synopsis is that we are set in a surreal (yet all too real ) dystopian future, and following the journey of Offred, a ‘handmaid’ who is forced to live as a concubine under a fundamentalist theocratic dictatorship. Upon watching the first episode I wasn’t sure I would actually be able to watch the show. It is hard to watch to say the least, and I believe most would agree. However, it’s beyond engrossing and it’s grotesque portrayal of the dissemination of women’s power and the effects of such is compelling. Like, really compelling.
Here too we are shown rape as a common event, murder as normalized punishment, genital mutilation as a slap on the wrist and all the while big brother running the show. Reminiscent of books such as Orwells 1984, dystopian portraits are triggering when they feel as though they could become real….
Since the show itself hasn’t reached it’s finale, and I recently read it will be airing for another season, I can’t provide my complete feedback, but it’s leaving it’s mark on me, and on many others.
So why these three shows? Well, although very different from one another, they all hold a similar theme. The power struggle between male and female. In today’s highly misogynistic political climate, it’s safe to say many women are facing harsh realities regarding healthcare and general regard as equals in American society. Rape is listed as a pre-existing condition in our new Trump Health Care Act…and it’s frightening to know that saying you were raped could be a stab against you and your rights, rather than to your assailant(s). It makes stories such as these listed above, The Handmaids Tale in particular, hit home in a way that is alarming. In 13 Reasons Why, you see how difficult it is for someone to admit they were raped. In Big Little Lies, you see a mother who was raped, choosing to keep the child (ears perked Paul Ryan) and how she deals with reliving her trauma over and over again along with cowering in the fear that the man who raped and created her son, would somehow end up inside of him, manifesting in him- that there is violence in his otherwise innocent young blood.
I’m both scared and intrigued. These intensely popular shows are hitting tough subjects hard. Is it good that we watch these things? Is it bad? Ask a million people and you’ll get different answers, but I think bringing the dark into the light is the only way to really heal. Looking at tantric yoga philosophy, we know that all must find balance. Shiva and Shakti in divine play. Light and dark. Feminine and Masculine. I can’t say these shows are ‘yogic’ so to speak, but I can offer the thought that if we honor these subjects and shine awareness on to them, we can begin to heal them- or stop them from becoming a reality.
Know that I am simply offering my opinions on these shows- If you like them or don’t, their popularity is undeniable. And whether you watch them or not is up to you; but if you do, let me know your thoughts in the comments.
“This is your tape.”
“I love my grudges, I tend to them like little pets.”
“Under his eye.”