Review of Netflix Original 13 Reasons Why

Disclaimer: 13 Reasons Why addresses several sensitive topics including suicide, teen drug and alcohol use, and rape. Some scenes are quite graphic in their depictions of these harsh realities.

On March 31st, Netflix released yet another binge-worthy original series. 13 Reasons Why was largely anticipated, especially by people who had read the book of the same name written by Jay Asher and published in 2007. 

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The show is about a teenage girl, Hannah Baker, who takes her own life after experiencing bullying in high school. Before Hannah slits her wrists and bleeds to death in her bathtub, however, she records 13 tapes- each dedicated to one specific person and each a reason why she killed herself. She left the tapes to a trusted friend and he was to deliver them to the first person on the tapes- an ex boyfriend named Justin. Justin was then to deliver the tapes to the next person, and so on, or else the tapes would be released and everyone would hear about what Justin and his peers did that made Hannah want to kill herself. Although there is a core cast in the show, the story is told mainly from the viewpoint of the subject of tape 11, also known as Clay Jensen. 

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While some thought this show started out slowly, I was immediately into it.  From the very first episode, it’s made clear that this won’t be a lighthearted show with suicide as an afterthought. The entire series (so far only consisting of one season) is spent flipping back and forth between the present lives of people living in the wake of Hannah’s death and flashbacks that those people have of their time with Hannah. 

Hannah’s story unfolds through 13 episodes (symbolizing the 13 tapes she left behind) and each episode left me wanting more- more answers, more explanations and more details about how Hannah was driven to take her own life by the people she was forced to encounter ever day. Because of time allotments, the show was able to develop the backgrounds of more secondary characters in a more in depth way than the book could. This allowed the audience to get every side of the stories that Hannah was telling in her tapes, instead of just her own. 

Critics of the show say that maybe Hannah took things too seriously, or took things to heart more than she should have. Critics on the other side say that people shouldn’t need a show about bullying and suicide to realize that it’s wrong. Still others say that perhaps this show or book should be assigned to high schoolers to help them understand the extent and impact of their actions. 

Overall, I would recommend watching the series but maybe not all at once. The show is emotional, intense, and very realistic which could take a toll on people who decide to binge all 13 episodes. 

 

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