13 Reasons Why… is shit.

Angst Angst everywhere, but not a drop to drink. Or something like that.

Living with another human with only one TV means sometimes I’m sometimes forced to endure her choice of television. I could get up and sit in another room, but I’m a prisoner of my own laziness and alcoholism.

The latest Netflix Original that is being forced into my retinas is 13 Reasons Why. I would say something “clever” like “13 Reasons why you should watch something else!” Hoho! But then most critics have beaten me to it, though much to my chagrin they’ve been saying “13 Reasons Why you should be watching this show”.

Words like “powerful” have been thrown about, which is a strange word in terms of critiquing something. The Nazis were powerful, they were still shit. Stupid Nazis. It’s based on a book apparently – 13 Reasons Why that is, though the Nazis were also based on a book so legend has it.

The premise is thus. A girl (Hannah something) commits suicide, because her life at the age of 17 isn’t going quite as she would like, but before she does it she records 13 tapes describing why she killed herself, naming and shaming all those who contributed to the decline of her life and mental health. Which in some ways is the main issue with the whole thing, as in my mind, these are the actions of an unstable person who would probably have ended up killing herself or someone else. Each episode we see Hannah’s life and all the shittiness that comes with it as well as those dealing with the repercussions of her frankly short sighted and selfish act except with the added pressure of these tapes.

There are a myriad of issues with setting a drama series in an American high school with mostly teenagers as the focal characters. One is real life teenagers are awful. They’re the worst things in the world. The second is, for the sake of drama, TV Teenagers are unlike any real life teenager, but are equally as awful.

Now, one of the main characters name is Clay and I refuse to acknowledge that there’s anyone in the world called Clay. What a fucking ridiculous name. The others I couldn’t be bothered to remember, so they’ll just be referred to as a number, which is just as well, as each seems to represent a teenaged trope and have nothing else.

So there’s the friend who has a lesbian experience with Hannah and then is like ‘oh shit, everyone has seen a picture of our lesbian experience I’m so embarrassed, my life is destroyed, never mind that it’s the twenty-first century and we’re all a bit more open about this shit.’ There’s the tough guy whose every piece of dialogue is something like ‘game’s changed.’ Or ‘I’m going to use my fists to punch that guy’s head and then everything will probably be okay after that.’ There’s the basketball guy, who plays basketball. There’s the cheerleader. There’s a poetry man. There’s the pervy stalker who is conveniently the photographer, and everyone knows he’s a pervy stalker, but no one seems that bothered and let him photograph away. And then there’s this weird guy who has a mob like family and seems to play the role of aged wise guide.

No one seems to have sat these kids down and told them that what they’re feeling, these feelings of melancholy, rage and constant uncertainty is just life and it’s only going to get worse. No one seems to say ‘fuck at least we don’t pay taxes’.

The worst character however, is Hannah, I’m sort of glad she’s dead, but outraged that in death she’s still the most annoying character. She’s apparently an outcast, despite being fairly attractive and socially aware. She writes a poem, because of course she does. Writers it seems are so bitter about the fact that no one liked them when they were young that every protagonist they write turns to the written word for solace and for incredibly forced moments of profundity.

There’s a concept in literature, films and TV known as ‘The Manic Pixie Dream Girl’ the quirky outcast that changes the lives of the dull miserable men. They’re really fucking irritating. Hannah is sort of this, but worse, more obnoxious. She has monologues about how school makes you conform and takes away your ability to make decisions, ironically played as she peruses a number of different stands there to give information so she can make a decision as to what university, college or career to go into.

She tries to apply for a top university, is told that only those with the best grades get the financial help to join and then rants about how it’s only available for those with money and doesn’t for an instant think ‘maybe I should work on my fucking grades’.

Sure, there’s a certain elitism to the education system that can be exploited by those with money. But that’s not the point. The point is, why does this girl feel so entitled? Other than the fact she’s a teenager? How can I feel empathy with a girl that feels life isn’t worth living because a few people have called her names and not liked her poetry? There’s one scene that really sticks out.

He with the stupid name is reading the poem and says ‘I like this poem.’ And Hannah says something obnoxious. And Clay says ‘Whoever wrote this is a dark person, I like the poem, but I’m not sure I’d like to hang out with her.’ At which point Hannah looks sad and wanders off. Why doesn’t she just say, “I wrote that poem?” I mean she’s already had it confirmed that he likes it, and they already hang out, so he’d go “oh, cool, wanna talk about it?” and then the choice would be hers.

Just once, I would love to watch a show portraying a “social outcast” who truly is socially inept and at the very least plain looking. And just once I’d like to see a drama centred around teenagers where someone says ‘IT DOESN’T FUCKING MATTER! So people laughed at your poem, that’s what you get for doing something as stupid as writing a fucking poem, get over it, there’s children out there who are living in war zones and don’t have any food, deal with that you arrogant, self-obsessed pieces of shit!’

But that may be just because my teenaged years flitted by in a drunken haze, I was in a band and shit and we didn’t really take it seriously… we won Hertfordshire under 18s battle of the bands. No one wanted to have sex with me and that’s okay because that’s their choice, and I’m a fucking moron, so it’s all good. My teenaged years were boring, maybe if they had some drama I’d feel differently, but I can’t help but feel Teenagers are misrepresented in the media.

What was I talking about?

Right. So, why should I care that this obnoxious middleclass white teenager died because other teenagers said they didn’t like her or her poetry and there was some bullying? Thousands of teenagers go through that, it’s really mundane.

The whole show is poorly written, it’s angst, angst and more angst. None of the characters are likeable. Yet, people are enjoying it, so I guess that’s the main thing.


My New and Improved Coffee Shop

This may seem absurdly melodramatic given the subject nature, but I’m afraid it definitely needs to be said. It is no secret that coffee shops are big business, they have become cultural epicentres of our society where folk from all walks of life congregate to catch up on the recent news, global and social, read books, write things, have meetings and all that nonsense, whilst getting our caffeine fix. We love coffee, it’s sophisticated. There are no longer any shops, just coffee places. Schools have been bulldozed and replaced with Costas. Hospitals have been demolished to make way for Starbucks and your house is soon to be knocked down so they can put in one of those infuriatingly pretentious cafes, where everything is organic and cruelty free and your latte is made by a bloke with a ‘quirky’ beard and haircut or a woman with an incredibly pierced face.

Now, I could get worked up into a sweary tirade at our pathetic existence, the way we cannot go a day without a latte. I could lament the fact that we all gladly spend £3 for a cappuccino (which according to adverts is enough to save an abused child, or a hard worked donkey). I could decry our obsession with Frappenappiatos and various quantities of frothed milk, but I shan’t. Instead, I shall – with almost zero self-awareness – that we need a coffee shop that tailors exclusively to the sad, single losers with no friends.

I.E me.

The first reason for this, is I fucking hate other people’s children.Unless they’re somehow related to me, and therefore have some evolutionary reason not to hate them, or at the very least a social obligation to somehow want to keep them alive, I find them the most irritating creature on the planet. Yes, they are more irritating than the pigeon that keeps me up at 3 in the fucking morning with its relentless cooing. The world is too densely populated, yet people insist on churning out sprog. I shan’t go into that here, as we haven’t the time, nor have you the patience. Also, every time I speak about it I question my sanity.

I am by no means an expert on the human child, but I’m fairly certain that should you ask one what it would see as a pleasant day out, it would not respond ‘Oh, that nice little coffee shop, the one that does the paninis.’To me it is obvious that, to a child, there is nothing more boring than a couple of long hours in an establishment where the primary purpose is to produce drinks children do not like. They get restless, they get bored and they start to fucking run about making endless amounts of noise. They become the definition of little shits, whining moaning, pointing at things or giggling away like the stupid little twats that they are. It is for this reason that I hate them. Their parents are usually of a middle-class persuasion and therefore less than useless, because the middle-classes are raised to believe that whatever happens in life, one must never make a scene. Even if their legs exploded they would politely sit there and wait until someone offered to put them in a wheelbarrow and wheel them to the nearest hospital, before it is turned into a Pret a Manger. So kids run riot, and the parents ineffectually shush them whilst reddening with embarrassment and social unease, making it very difficult for lonely old me to sit in the corner contentedly staring into the abyss.

Then there are babies, the smaller variant of the human child. On the whole, these aren’t as bad in themselves, but modern parents are no longer content in wheeling them around in what is effectively a potato sack on wheels. Now they must have the best all terrain vehicles to transport their child. HUge things with gargantuan wheels, wing mirrors, sat-navs and wide screen tvs. They decide that the best place to take these things are our coffee shops, forming the most challenging of obstacle courses that even the fucking SAS would struggle to complete. And if you dare bump their pushchairs, or look at them in exasperation, they look at you like the scum you are. They pull Tomahawks from their handbags and kill you dead.

New mothers think it acceptable to meet in these coffee shops, they are naive, think they can still have lives despite the little parasite feeding off them. They take their babies and try to chatter away about their school catchment areas, what was on the telly that evening, what Beatrice the nosy cunt of a neighbour has been up to.

‘She’ll get a jar of acid in the face if she isn’t careful.’ They say as their babies start to fuss.

‘That’s if she’s lucky.’ The babies will get louder as their mothers try and pacify them everything to hand.

‘I’d knock her down with my car, then when she’s incapacitated cover her in petrol and set her on fire!’ they’ll continue with that strained and desperate look to their eyes as they try to ignore the fact that they’ve ruined their lives.

All the while making it harder for sad sacks of shit like myself to plot how they’d go about hanging themselves.

Then there are those with friends and families. Those that enter a busy coffee shop when I am at the front of the queue, when seats are scarce, but I am at the front. I have waited patiently, listening to the hiss and whine of the machines. I have waited without complaint as the gormless turd behind the counter fumbles with my change. I am at the front, so I should be fine, there are a few seats left. Then they come in.

‘Ooh, it’s busy, do you want to get the drinks I’ll get us a table!’

Fuck you. Fuck you until you die!

You can’t do that. It’s not fair.

It puts those without friends at an unreasonable disadvantage.

Some times these bastards are old. And seem to use their age as an excuse. Because of their bad legs. But they spot a table and they’re leaping over scattered pushchairs, weaving between bored and misbehaving children, intent on getting that seat before me – who being at the front of the queue – deserves that table. It is my right! Fucking old people, why don’t they have the decency to die like in the good old days.

So in short, I have a dream of a coffee shop in which people like me can get coffee in a place they feel at ease, where they needn’t even make eye contact with another living creature and can contemplate the pointlessness of it all in peace.

And they sell whiskey.