“13 Reasons Why,” by author, Jay Asher, is a story about Hannah Baker, a high school student who kills herself. She leaves behind seven cassette tapes detailing the thirteen reasons and people who drove her to feel as if she had no way out.
These tapes are given in succession to each person mentioned on them with two rules in which those who are listening must follow: 1. They have to listen to the tapes . . . all of them in order, and 2. They have to pass them on to the next person detailed in the tapes. If they fail to do these two things Hannah has ensured that a third party will release the tapes and therefore make public the actions of those who are featured on them.
When the tapes reach Clay Jensen, Hannah’s classmate, co-worker and long-time crush, he can’t help but feel like he shouldn’t be on them. So, he listens to the tapes and comes to understand why Hannah took her own life.
The book was adapted by Netflix and released as a thirteen episode series on the streaming service on March 31. It quickly took off being cited for its honest portrayal of sexual abuse, bullying and teen suicide. I, of course, having read the book when it came out – while I was in high school – immediately rushed to watch. I was not disappointed.
The series remained true to the book without following it page for page. There were some minor changes, which were understandably made due to production and the like, but the same feelings were there as when I read the book back in my adolescence.
Firstly, the chemistry between Katherine Langford (Hannah Baker) and Clay Jensen (Dylan Minette) was perfect. The two actors were able to portray an honest, raw awkward high school crush relationship. As a viewer, it was fitting because in the book you always got a sense that if Hannah had lived, she and Clay would have been so much more. Minette and Langford flawlessly embodied this on the verge relationship, and not only that but they were able to illustrate the hard, painful emotions that come with such a heavy subject.
I will now give a warning for those of you who are interested in watching, but aren’t sure if you want to due to the content. Here is your trigger warning: the story portrays alcohol, drugs, physical and sexual abuse, rape, and a very graphic suicide scene. However, I will say even though it was brutal to watch it was important that the producers decided to keep each of those things based in reality. Rape is hard to stomach, suicide makes us squirm because they’re terrible things that no human should have to endure, but they still happen and that’s the point of this whole story.
For those who have watched the series and/or read the book I have put together a list of some links to articles that I found interesting about the making of the show and theories as to the ending. Please note that some of these articles do contain spoilers, so reader beware.
- Thirteen Books if you Loved “13 Reasons Why”
- Why “13 Reasons Why” Took so Long to Make
- The “13 Reasons Why” Soundtrack is Dark, Evocative and Hauntingly Perfect
- This “13 Reasons Why” Theory has Shaken Me to My Very Core
- “13 Reasons Why” Read the Most Popular Passages from the Book
- There’s One Game-Changing Detail in “13 Reasons Why” You Likely Missed
- “13 Reasons Why” Star Dylan Minette on that Emotional Clay-Hannah Scene
- What “13 Reasons Why” Gets Right and Wrong about Rape
- Here’s Why They Decided to Show Hannah’s Suicide on “13 Reasons Why”
- We Need to Talk About Jeff on “13 Reasons Why”
- How “13 Reasons Why” Turned Its Tragic Protagonist into a Villain
- All the Unresolved Cliffhangers at the End of “13 Reasons Why”
- Romina Russell Sorts the “13 Reasons Why” Characters into Zodiac Houses
And one bonus one:
If you or someone you know needs help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255) or visit their website.