13 Reasons Why, based off the book of the same name, is a story about Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford), a high school junior who has committed suicide. Leaving behind no note, no one really knew Hannah’s motive, making her a cautionary tale. That is until, Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette) finds a package on his porch filled with tapes. As he listens to the first tape, Hannah states that these 13 tapes stand for the 13 reasons that lead to her suicide. More importantly, the 13 people who caused it. And if you received the tapes, you were a reason.
I literally, and when I say literally I do mean literally, binged this series in one sitting the day it came out. I started around 9 pm, went to sleep for about 4 hours, and woke up to finish the series. A decision I have come to regret because now I can’t stop thinking about this show!!! I had never read the books and I’m glad to read that those who have read the books, all agree that the show is a lot better.
So, without further ado, here are my five reasons why you should watch this show.
A big part into what lead me to binge this series is the question of why? How? Clay, through a short introduction prior to the tapes, seemed like a nice guy. Like, really nice. So why was he on these tapes? It seemed like every other person that Hannah ran through made sense, but not Clay. Spoiler alert, you don’t find out why he’s included until about episode 10.
This show does a great job at adding bits and pieces to the story little by little in a way that you just have to keep watching.
How is this person involved?
They couldn’t possibly be a reason.
- Character Development
As a newly-self-appointed-full-fledged adult (yes I am only 21 but I feel like I have the brain of a 43 year old woman), can I just say that these kids were annoying. as. hell. in the beginning? Every character felt like they fit into the stereotypes they belonged in. The jocks with the jocks, the loner, the cheerleaders, etc.
Throughout the show as Clay digs into each character to get a better understanding of both sides of the story, (Hannah’s and the other person involved) the audience starts to get a better understanding of why certain people reacted one way and how it might have come across a different way to Hannah.
A jock can just be jock… But a jock can also be the type of guy that may have dreams beyond the court, no matter how great he is. (Zach) An over-achiever-seemingly nice girl can also be conniving. (Courtney played by Michele Ang)
Finally, a show that gets it. Not a hyper-imagined high school where everyone magically always has the house to themselves, unlimited budgets, and have things happen to them that let’s just be real, will never happen to 98% of high school students.
The kids at Liberty High can literally be any student you know, and that’s what I love about it. Their dialogue is accurate, aka it doesn’t feel like a group of adults sat in a room and guessed how kids talked like.
I mean, I guess it helps that most of the cast are all in their early 20’s. Except for Ross Butler (Zach) who is actually 26, but doesn’t look it at all. Zamn boiii.
But as I said, they really captured the complexity of being a teenager. Unlike most shows and movies that present characters as one shade, every single character has multiple dimensions. And as the season progresses, they unravel and show those different sides.
- The Cast
I mean, aside from the fact that they are a group of fine lookin folk, they have great chemistry. Any time they all interact either as a group or different sets separately, it feels natural. They all do a great job at portraying their characters, but they also make the relationships feel real.
That might be due to the fact that the cast also hangs out tons off screen (which I have come to learn after doing … just a slight bit of creepin on the ‘gram). They are the absolute cutest together and though this is the first I’ve seen of some of them, I’m excited to know who they are now so I can follow what they decide to do after this show.
- Addressing Important Issues
Though the focal topic of the show is teenage suicide, lots of other important issues are also discussed throughout the show.
One subtle (but important) one would be the use of social media with teenagers these days. There was a scene in the first episode where two girls posed in front of Hannah’s locker to post on Instagram.
Some other issues that the show delves into are: bullying (both cyber and physical), slut shaming, and sexual abuse.
I definitely did not see the sexual abuse coming when I first got into the show, but when it did. Boy, did it hit like a truck. After I finished the show, I had tweeted that on the 13th episode, on the 13th reason, it really showcased how authority figures handle sexual abuse/assault cases once they have been brought up. Especially coming from someone, though the counsellor did not know it at the time, was grasping at anyone and anything to pull her back from the depths of her sadness.
It was infuriating, but that’s exactly how I was supposed to feel. Because that is what happens on an everyday basis.
I found that this show did that a lot to me. It made me feel such strong emotions. I wanted to help Hannah. I wanted people to listen to Clay. I wanted to sit Justin (Brandon Flynn) and Jessica (Alisha Boe) down and smack em upside the head. I was invested.
And those are the reasons why I love this show, and why I think you should watch it too, if you haven’t already. I’ve seen lots of people on Instagram and Twitter already raving so if not on it yet, hop on the wagon!
I won’t say that this show is perfect. As for most shows, there are lulls in the episode. Sometimes it feels like it’s dragging on (especially during a binge) and you just want them to get over the side stuff and get on with the juicy stuff.
But patience child, because if you rush through it like me, you won’t have time to really appreciate each episode and you’ll regret watching it too fast.
My overall rating? A good and solid 4/5. I can’t give it a perfect, but it is pretty dang close.
Now for those who have finished, I have some questions. Some, discussion topics per se. I guess they all focus around one main topic. Season Two?
If you look at the show on IMDB and anywhere else, it would say “2017-” meaning that it is open for more seasons. Aaaand it does make sense because that last episode was heavy. And I have some questions.
- Alex (Miles Heizer)? We end the season with the principal telling Mr. Porter (Derek Luke) that Alex had shot himself in the head, and was at the hospital. But, no news on whether his attempt was successful. So my thoughts are this, throughout the show we do see that Alex is the closest to Hannah to understanding why ending their own life made sense, but it still didn’t make the shock any less powerful. So if he didn’t succeed, then how would the show address an attempted suicide? But if he does, will Alex be the next to create a list of reasons/people?
- Tyler (Devin Druid)? Throughout the season he is seen getting bullied relentlessly. Whether it be by shutting him out of conversations, ignoring him, exiling him, or even physically bullying him. On his tape, we learn that Hannah has instructed everyone to throw rocks at his window. But the day that Clay goes to Tyler’s he overhears the conversation he has with his father and to me, it was pretty heartbreaking. Though I agree the whole taking photos thing is creepy, and he is a little on the awkward side, it still hurt to see. So when we see him loading a chest with guns and bullets, I really though, damn. They are going to take it there. And I am sure that this will be addressed next season, seeing as mass shootings are a very big issue right now.
- Why did Jessica lie? For those who don’t know how depositions work, it is literally like being in court. Anything you say in that room is held to the same degree as anything said in front of a judge and jury. So why did Jessica lie and say she didn’t know anything about the tapes? Especially now that the Bakers have a copy of their own, they’ll know Jessica knew.
- Where is Justin going? He ends the season by grabbing some liquor with Bryce (Justin Prentice) before heading off into the sunset. Not just cause he wanted to avoid the depos, but also because Jessica told him that she never wanted to see him ever again. Oh, he also has a gun with him, so yeah.
- How will the Bakers react to the tapes? They are already so wrapped up in the lawsuit and the loss of their daughter, how are they going to feel after hearing everything Hannah has to say? Most importantly, how they won’t be able to do what Clay did, and that was to confront everyone and learn their side of the story.
- What happened with Bryce and Hannah? I don’t know if I dozed off during the binge but, I don’t remember them diving into exactly what happened aside from a cut scene with the two in a hot tub (which we know that Bryce has at his house.) So how did it happen? How did Hannah go back to Bryce’s? Was it to prove something? Why didn’t they give more details?
So many questions, and yet not enough people to discuss it with cause my friends won’t watch it!! Ahhh, but if anyone out there is reading this and has feelings to share, let me hear it. I’m still not over it and it’s been almost a week since I finished bingeing.
And before ending this, I just wanted to say that I love the overall message that this show conveys. Everything is related to everything, and a little bit of kindness can go a long way. So if you know anyone that is going through anything at all, reach out. If there is a friend that you’ve lost touch with, reach out.
Reach out and tell them you care. Reach out and tell them they matter.
Everyone is fighting their own battle. Let’s be there to help each other and raise each other up.
And as always,
from me to you with love,