‘13 Rea­sons Why’ high­lights lat­est chal­lenge for par­ents in a stream­ing world

Cape Breton Post - - Entertainment -

An­nie Boucher is com­ing to terms with parenting in the Net­flix era.

The Ot­tawa-based mom had to do her home­work when her 12-year-old daugh­ter asked to watch the stream­ing ser­vice’s con­tro­ver­sial new teen drama “13 Rea­sons Why.’’

Boucher heard about the show rat­tling ed­u­ca­tors and cap­ti­vat­ing stu­dents with its de­pic­tions of sui­cide and sex­ual as­sault, but hadn’t seen it for her­self.

Be­fore giv­ing her daugh­ter per­mis­sion to start the se­ries, she wanted to thor­oughly ex­am­ine its con­tent by em­bark­ing on the mon­u­men­tal task of squeez­ing all 13 episodes into her sched­ule.

“If I’m mak­ing a cof­fee I’ll spend like three min­utes watch­ing it or if I’m hav­ing lunch I’ll spend 15 min­utes,’’ she says. “I’m kind of piec­ing it to­gether .... As a par­ent you can’t binge-watch any­thing.’’

Boucher fi­nally made it through the episodes a cou­ple of days ago. Now she plans to re­visit the cli­mac­tic, graphic fi­nale along­side her daugh­ter to dis­cuss it.

Hope­fully, she says, that will pre­pare the girl for the in­evitable con­ver­sa­tions she’ll en­counter in school hall­ways. Al­ready her class­mates are dis­sect­ing the specifics of each piv­otal scene.

Yet Boucher ac­knowl­edges that “13 Rea­sons Why’’ doesn’t stand alone.

While po­ten­tially ob­jec­tion­able shows broad­cast on TV, like “Game of Thrones’’ or “The Walk­ing Dead,’’ are eas­ier for par­ents to stay on top of with weekly in­stal­ments, the ar­rival of stream­ing ser­vices like Net­flix and Ama­zon Prime Video changed ev­ery­thing.

In­stead of re­veal­ing an episode per week, the stream­ing plat­forms dump an en­tire sea­son in one fell swoop.

And par­ents are find­ing them­selves over­whelmed by the mount­ing quan­tity of con­tent.

“Ev­ery day I log in and there’s a new se­ries,’’ Boucher says.

“It used to be that ev­ery­body would talk about the same thing, now you don’t even know there’s a phe­nom­e­non like ‘13 Rea­sons Why.’’’

Many par­ents felt blind­sided by the se­ries, which ar­rived in late March and ex­ploded in pop­u­lar­ity al­most im­me­di­ately, driven by so­cial me­dia buzz from its ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Se­lena Gomez and an es­tab­lished aware­ness as a 2007 youth adult novel.

Its sto­ry­line fo­cuses on a high school stu­dent who kills her­self and leaves be­hind 13 cas­sette tapes out­lin­ing events that pushed her to make the de­ci­sion. Some of the more in­tense mo­ments vi­su­al­ize rape, sub­stance abuse and cy­ber bul­ly­ing.

Hetty Al­cuitas hadn’t heard of the show un­til Face­book posts started ap­pear­ing from con­cerned par­ents. When some­one ex­plained the most trou­bling scenes to her, she asked her 16-year-old daugh­ter whether she’d watched the episodes.

Al­cuitas was sur­prised to learn her daugh­ter had al­ready fin­ished the se­ries.

AP PHOTO

This im­age re­leased by Net­flix shows Kather­ine Lang­ford in a scene from the se­ries, “13 Rea­sons Why,” about a teenager who com­mits sui­cide.

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