Trigger warning: rape, assault, suicide, and self harm.
There is a gaping hole in my head and my heart. 13 Reasons Why, based on the best-selling novel TH1RTEEN R3ASONS WHY, looks at the life and death of Hannah Baker. Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette) finds a box on his porch one day after school. Inside, he discovers a group of cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, (Katherine Langford) who committed suicide. Hannah tells her story, and everything that led to her death, on tape.
The book could have been turned into a movie, a two hour cinematic event but I am so thankful that it was turned into a 13 part series, featuring all of the up and coming new faces of Hollywood, that did the book and its (oh so powerful, moving, important) content justice.
You probably heard that Selena Gomez was producing this show and took a double take; I did too. But somehow, she managed to help create a great show that was interesting and necessary. The show touches on many topics including self-harm, suicide, the power of photography, and our technology addiction. More pressing topics such as sexism, the male gaze, and the objectification of women’s bodies are heavy focuses of the show as well, without beating around with the tough topics. The series did a good job of balancing the masculinity of the show without employing the male gaze, even in the face of the most violent versions of masculinity.
The suicide is shown on screen and I had to look away. But instead of glamorizing the subject it was done in a very respectful manner. You may have to avert your eyes as well, but it was a necessary step in this overarching plot.
The mark of good story telling is that the story transcends time and this one is suitable for people of all ages. With a clear anti-bullying message and no hold barred with the kinds of things shown on screen, the storytelling arc and timeline were believable. The main story is told with a mix of the present day and flashbacks. This allows for a look at how the narrator wanted things to happen, as well as very real depiction of how high school experiences transpire.
My only concern with the show was the constant parties in mansions at 16 and 17 years old – I’m sorry but where did you get that much alcohol from?! I also did not think it was realistic with how many students in this show were covered in tattoos – don’t you have to be a certain age before you can get inked?
With a powerfully written and executed script and a fantastic soundtrack that was gripping from start to finish 13 Reasons Why was a heavy experience. If you plan on binge-watching this show make sure you take a moment to breathe and step away if you need to. The episodes that have graphic content start off with a content warning.