13 Reasons Why made history in New Zealand. The Netflix drama about a high school girl who kills herself and leaves 13 tapes explaining the reasoning behind taking her own life spurred New Zealand’s Office of Film & Literature Classification to create a new rating: RP18.
The new rating was created specifically for 13 Reasons Why, acknowledging that teens are watching and will continue to watch the show, “while signaling the strong content and emphasizing the essential role of parents and caregivers in discussing this material with young people in their care,” the Classification Office said.
13 Reasons Why‘s RP18 rating means someone under the age of 18 must view the series with supervision of a parent or guardian.
While some New Zealand groups, like The Mental Health Foundation New Zealand and Sexual Abuse Prevention Network, have praised the show for bringing attention to consent, sexual violence, suicide and mental health, the government office said the portrayal of Hannah Baker’s (Katherine Langford) suicide present “real risks,” specifically because the method is shown.
“All the teens we spoke to felt the show addressed issues that were relevant to them, and that the series overall had positive messages relating to social awareness: treating others with respect and compassion, and raising awareness about suicide, sexual violence, bullying, and other issues,” Chief Censor Jared Mullen said in a statement. “These issues need to be talked about in a way that is informed and safe – parents, guardians and other adults need to have open conversations with teens about the issues raised by the show. Parents should use their judgment about whether their teen is ready to watch this show and then watch it with them. The series raises a lot of issues but often fails to fully address them, and it’s really important that trusted adults can step in at that point.”
13 Reasons Why‘s portrayal of suicide has made waves around the world because it was so graphic, however the episodes with the depiction and that of rape carried warnings. Dan Reidenberg, the executive director of Suicide Awareness Voices of Education, told ABC News the show could “do more harm than good” because it doesn’t present “a viable alternative to suicide.”
In a statement, Netflix previously told E! News, “From the onset of work on 13 Reasons Why, we have been mindful both of the show’s intense themes and the intended audience. We support the unflinching vision of the show’s creators, who engaged the careful advice of medical professionals in the script writing process. The series carries a TV-MA rating as well as graphic content warnings preceding specific episodes, along with an after-show and companion website with additional resources. Our members tell us that 13 Reasons Why has helped spark important conversations in their families and communities around the world.”
How will you let your kids watch the show? Do you think parents should be required to watch with teens?