13 Reasons Why - A Review

by , Tuesday April 11, 2017
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 13 Reasons Why - A Review

...And 13 Reasons You Should Watch

I read the book by Jay Asher when I was about twelve-thirteen years old, just as I was beginning to get into reading and writing and as with all books back then I devoured them in a night. 13 Reasons Why was the same and that's probably why now I don't remember exactly what happenes and it's all jumbled into the YA blur of my mind. I decided to watch the show anyway.

 

13 Reasons Why

 

If the subtitle didn’t give it away, I absolutely loved 13 Reasons Why. All 13 episodes. It’s exclusive to Netflix and stars Dylan Minnette as Clay and Katherine Langford as Hannah. I read the book so long ago that I forgot how these characters looked in my head, but from what I’ve seen online they certainly met expectations.

So a screen adaption had been in the works for a while, initially proposed as a movie but that fell through. As far as I’m aware, Netflix picked it up and here we are now. And I’m glad that happened – every minute of the 13 episodes was necessary to convey the whole point. Even a long movie wouldn’t be able to pull it off.

The basic story is Hannah Baker commits suicide. She leaves no note. A couple of weeks later 13 people begin to receive cassette tapes being passed from one to the next. These tapes detail 13 Reasons, 13 people who failed her in some way causing her to take her life. The point of the tapes is unclear – but I suppose it’s just another form of suicide note with a bigger impact.

The story starts when Clay receives the tapes – he’s reason number ten. He then listens to the tapes at an agonisingly slow pace, crawling through them as if they physically pain him while visiting mentioned locations one-by-one. At first Clay is sad, then he’s angry, and then he’s sad. It’s a bit of a roller-coaster ride of emotions for Clay and he doesn’t quite understand why he’s even on them – what did he do to hurt her? How did he fail her?

Clay comes to realise his mistakes as Hannah explains through specific events that contributed to her depression.

The story doesn’t stop with just Clay and the tapes. The other characters on the tapes have their own demons, their own mistakes and shames to work through that go deeper than what they seem on the surface – much like how Hannah’s demons were more than skin-deep. These characters and their stories would certainly make for a good second season.

13 Reasons why featured two rape scenes and then the suicide of Hannah Baker. For whatever reason personal to you, you may find these are hard to watch if you let yourself watch them at all. What this TV show has going for it though is how realistic and raw and honest these scenes are (as well as a lot of other sensitive scenes). It doesn’t dramatize. It doesn’t glamorise. It’s shown how it is as true to life as you’d expect. That’s what made the emotional impact even worse.

I didn’t cry at this show, but not because I wasn’t sad – no, I’ve never felt so much emotion while watching a show – but because I felt frozen. Every selfish commented uttered by a character, every insult, every beating, every time someone broke down and cried, every smile and rare heartwarming moment. You knew what was going to come and that’s what made it worse.

The suicide of Hannah Baker, as I remember it, was an overdose. It makes sense. The Baker’s own a pharmacy so she has easy access to all these drugs. In the show they done it differently, and as far as I’m aware it was to create more of an impact. Hannah could have died of an overdose and it be like what you’ve seen on other shows – passing out into a peaceful sleep, maybe convulsions, being sick – but still ultimately death. They changed this to Hannah slitting her wrists in the bathtub, a method that’s one of the most common in real-life but rarely depicted on TV. You see her fill the bath. No tears. No visible emotions. You know she’s made up her mind.

I have to commend the way they portrayed it. There’s always worry that a suicide scene in any show will glamorise or promote the act to vulnerable people if it’s made to look easy, if it’s made to look like a good alternative to life. The whole setup of the show, in my opinion, worked from episode one in telling otherwise. If they went with an overdose I might have thought differently. Hannah Baker is visibly in pain the moment she tries to take her life. It hurts. She lies back in the tub, alone, and just dies. Just like that. Lonely in life, lonely in death. Her parents’ find her and they’re hurt too. She’s hurt them. She’s hurt everyone. The entire show lets us see exactly how she hurt them while telling how they hurt her.

In my opinion not only did everyone fail Hannah Baker but Hannah Baker failed everyone too.

The ending is left open, leaving the window for a season two. The lives of characters Alex, Tyler, and Justin are left up in the air as to what will happen next. A few episodes before Tyler is shown having a chest full of guns. Is he going to shoot up his school or take his own life after all the torment he’s had to endure? Alex in one scene is shown texting his friend frantically but the friend ignores the call. He too has easy access to guns and may have done something bad. Justin before leaving home in one of the later episodes also snatches a gun from his house and he certainly has potential to injure another person if not himself.

Overall, I really liked this series. It was honest, emotional, and realistic. The actors and actresses were great in their roles and the story adapted for TV worked perfectly. I’d be really interested in a second season and this might actually be reason to buy Netflix.

Let me know if you’ve seen it and what you thought!

 

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