I finally finished watching 13 Reasons Why on Netflix, and now I am go give my thoughts on the series.
First, let me discuss my views on the book. I felt the book was little over hyped. I did like the ideas the book portrayed such as how bullying leads to suicide, the problem I had with the book was mainly the character of Hannah, and I didn’t connect with her like I did with Clay. I also feel that we didn’t get enough depth about the character on the tapes.
The show, follows the same beats of the show, it starts after the suicide of Hannah Baker, Clay receiving the tapes and starts listening. In the book Clay listens to the tapes in one sitting, but in the show he takes his time to listen to each tape and process the information. That was one of the show main strengths, is not just listening to tapes but also seeing how the school and the other characters on the tapes react to them as well.
Each episode is one tape, that was a big plus because the story could also be more fleshed out. I remember when I first read the book a movie was optioned with Selena Gomez playing Hannah. A movie would not have done the book justice. A TV show made it so much better, and part of me kinda wishes that Hollywood should adapt YA novels into TV series instead of movies.
Another plus was how the characters were a lot more fleshed out, and you them on the tapes and also after the suicide. The characters I felt were more fleshed out were Jessica, Justin and Alex. WIth Jessica especially with what happened to her is who I felt had the most development throughout the show. Justin, while it was a douchy thing that he did , you also see a glimpse into his family life. Alex, is a character who actually really felt bad with what happened to Hannah.. Some other characters such as Marcus and Courtney who didn’t really change in the end and kept conspiring against Clay.
The performances were also very outstanding. Katherine Langford who plays Hannah does an amazing job with the role. She added a lot of depth to the Hannah role, which I always felt was lacking in the book, in which we only see Hannah through the tapes and not her as a person. Another amazing performance is Dylan Minnette who plays Clay is also outstanding in the role, and you really feel for Clay throughout the show. Kate Walsh who plays Hannah’s mother is also great in the role. She does a great job at playing a grief sicken mother dealing with her daughters suicide. Hannah’s parents don’t really play a role in the books so I was glad that it was included in the show. The rest of cast are also very good, and I think it has the best teen cast since Friday Night Lights.
The show also takes a few liberties with the book. It deals with a lawsuit brought forth by Hannah’s parents. Also how Clay listened to the tapes, instead of one night its about a few weeks. Another is how Hannah committed suicide. in the book she overdosed on pills, while in the show it she slit her wrists. Hannah’s suicide could seen as very triggering.
Now to give my thoughts on themes of the show. This show is very split on how it handles suicide and depression. One half says it raises awareness of teen suicide, another side says it trivializes suicide. Some people will say that Hannah’s suicide and the use of the tapes sees it as more of an act of vengeance rather than trying to deal with her mental health problems.
As someone that has dealt with bullying, dealing with depression and has on a few occasions contemplated suicide. I think there is no right or wrong way to write suicide, or mental health stories, and I feel that Hannah’s story shouldn’t have to match my story or anyone else’s. While for some the material the show addresses could be triggering I could fully understand if anyone doesn’t want to watch the show. I kinda wish that both the show and the book did a better job at addressing Hannah’s mental health issues.
In the end, 13 Reasons Why was a very good show that expanded on the book and fleshed out a lot of characters. If they make a second season, I think they will address the lawsuit, maybe Bryce getting arrested for rape, Alex’s suicide attempt and maybe Tyler shooting up the school. I want to see where the story goes.
Season MVP: Katherine Langford, Kate Walsh and Dylan Minnette
Best Episodes: Tape 1, Side A, Tape 6, Side A and Tape 7, Side A.
Season grade: A