COMMENT: When TV shows seek to teach, not solely entertain

Spoiler alert: If you have not seen the end of 13 Reasons Why and Big Little Lies, look away now.

 

If I could spend the rest of my life watching TV shows, I would. Sad, I know, but I absolutely love them.

When I have a bad day, TV shows take me away from my world and into another. I bond over certain shows with friends and if my life is particularly dry, I love the drama a programme gives me. Because it’s not my drama and I don’t have to deal with it.

But there’s something different about TV lately.

The world we live in is changing and therefore, so are the shows we watch. They’re not just platforms for entertainment anymore – they’re stories which try to send a strong message to each and every one of us. They're lessons.

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You can probably guess which shows I’m talking about. Yep, 13 Reasons Why and Big Little Lies.

Both extremely different, but both just as captivating. And important. They’re so important.

One focuses on young adults, and the other is based on middle-aged women.

One is about suicide, and the other is about domestic abuse.

I know these concepts are nothing new to TV or film – but the way the producers, directors and actors handled these shows challenged the norm.

There wasn't a happy ending where everything turned out to be OK.

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In 13 Reasons Why, the ending was tragic, and real, and absolute. There was no happy ending for Hannah Baker.

It shows that no, sometimes everything is not ‘grand’ and we really have to listen to people to understand them and what they’re going through.

We all missed Alex’s signs, right? But, they were there, and we were too busy with the rest of the story to listen.

The show should be a lesson that we need to be there for the people we love. We need to pick up and learn from the signs and we can’t take for granted a throwaway comment, because you never know how much that comment can impact someone.

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As for Big Little Lies, it was a vastly different setting, yet I got a sense of similarity between it and 13RW.

Struggles were hidden. Signs were lost. Everything appears fine on the outside, when genuinely awful things are happening on the inside.

Nicole Kidman portrayed a woman who was being abused by her husband.

She was insistent that he loved her and she loved him, but if she went against him, his rage would be too strong for her words.

He hit her. He slapped her. He pushed her. He slammed her against the wall.

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He said he would change but he didn’t. And in the end, his son began to follow in his footsteps.

And it was then, that Nicole's character, Celeste, decided she needed put an end to their relationship.

But how many friends was she hiding her bruises from? How perfect did she look on the outside?

It’s frightening to think that someone I know and love could be embroiled in a relationship like this, and I’m none the wiser to it.

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It’s TV shows like this that make you think, make you want to be better and make you want the world we live in to be better.

Revenge porn. Dating abuse. Cat-calling. Domestic abuse. Adultery. Illicit pictures. Body shaming. Perjury. Rape. Suicide.

All of these issues are dealt with in 13 Reasons Why and Big Little Lies.

They need to be seen and understood.

And even if you’re an 18-year-old watching Big Little Lies, or a 30-year-old watching 13 Reasons Why, these things are happening in our world right now, and we need to take notice.

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