TV show review: 13 Reasons Why

Recently, Netflix has added one more show to its long list of originals.

13 Reasons Why follows the cassette tapes left behind by Hannah Baker, a junior at the local high school, after killing herself. On the tapes, she claims that each person who is mentioned is somehow responsible for her death in a small way. The show follows each of the characters as they react and recall the stories told by Hannah in the cassettes.

The main character, Clay Jensen, is one of the last to receive the box of cassettes, which includes instructions to pass them around to everyone on the list included. Clay’s storyline is crucial and intimate because he had a crush on Hannah in the time up until her death.

The television show is based on a novel, published in 2007 and written by Jay Asher. It was only recently recreated for the screen after the book hit the best sellers’ list in 2011.

This show does a great job of keeping the viewer interested, with a great storyline and plenty of cliffhangers. The two leads, Dylan Minnette and Catherine Langford, who play Clay Jensen and Hannah Baker, bring their characters to life with their professional acting skills. The emotion behind Minnette’s character seems completely authentic. You can easily identify the torment of each new tape.  Langford has the angsty teen stare down to an art, making you experience a wide range of feelings toward her character, from sympathy to annoyance.

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For me, annoyance is a more frequent reaction, more so to Hannah Baker the character, rather than Catherine Langford the actress. Hannah doesn’t deserve the sympathy she receives in the show and from the real world audience. She uses mystery and sass to get away with blaming the rest of the world for her own decision. I understand that people’s actions have a large effect on others and the choices they make, but, ultimately, it was Hannah who ended her own life. Putting the blame on her friends forces them to be guilt ridden and to live without ever getting closure.

However, the show does a fantastic job of presenting a realistic portrayal of issues a lot of teens face. It does not shy away from the ugliness of bullying, rape or suicide, and instead shoves all of these issues into viewer’s faces, almost daring them to try to look away.

The show currently has thirteen episodes, each representing a tape in the cassette. Parents should be forewarned that the show contains many strong depictions of partying, assault and suicide, along with other stereotypical teenage downfalls. Those suffering from abuse or assault may find many episodes to be a trigger and should also watch with caution.