For once I can be that annoying hipster and get to say, “I liked 13 Reasons Why before it was cool!” I read the book while I was in high school after finding it at my local Barnes and Noble. I browsed the young adult section, skimming through the appealing fantasy novels and caught the title, 13 Reasons Why, in my peripheral vision. I read the back cover. Suicide. Now that’s something a lot of high schoolers can relate to. Even me.
And yet, it’s hardly talked about, let alone written about.
So I purchased the book and gobbled it up. I fell in love with its prose; the overall story lingered over me well after I had finished it.
Having been a fan of the book, I was thrilled to see that it had become a TV show and binge watched the season within a few days. (Hooray for being funemployed!) Overall, the show was incredibly well done. It stayed true to the novel, but extended beyond that to bring secondary characters in the novel a wider, fuller story. Here’s my list of my favorite things about the show:
Oh Clay, you naive child. I love Clay’s character. He’s easy to love: handsome, yet kind and gentle. But hIs biggest downfall is that he doesn’t know how to communicate. He lets the girl get away (permanently) because he’s a young and can’t express himself. Like many others, he stands idly by as his friend faces constant ridicule. He epitomizes the every day teen: those who watch others suffer and does nothing about it. His pain and loss is a lesson to viewers everywhere . Even if you’re not actively hurting someone, sometimes, not doing anything, hurts just as much.
2. The Bakers
The Bakers didn’t get any character development in the novel, so seeing their story come to life added a deeper reality to how a suicide affects the parents. But the show didn’t stop with them; I loved how we saw how Hannah Baker’s suicide affected everyone at the school, not just her parents.
3. The final episode
I’m not gonna lie; I liked Hannah Baker. She was charming, witty, and intelligent. I wanted to be her friend as I watched her high school life unfold. I watched her make friends and lose friends. I watched her romantic past. I watched as she exposed her insecurities and her desires. In a way, I did become her friend because I got close to her and really got to know her.
And then I watched her die.
I knew she was going to die. Everyone knew. And yet I was astounded by how emotional I became when I watched her dig those razor blades into her wrists. I was mourning her.
The creators did an amazing job at making us really see Hannah Baker. And it was incredibly effective because the show no longer became about why she killed herself, but why we should reach out to people who are being bullied and are hurting. When she died, we lost a friend, and if it was that hard to watch and to feel when it’s fiction, then we need to start reaching out to our actual friends and peers now.
Bravo to the creators. That final episode was chilling and heartbreaking. I need to go buy more tissues now.
4. Suicide and Bullying
Kudos to the creators for not wimping out at the hard stuff. Suicide is real. Bullying is real. Both happen every day. They showed us what both look like and got us talking about it. For crying out loud, suicide is the second leading cause of death for people aged 10-25! It should be talked about.
And for some of us, it’s a daily occurrence and to have some light shed on these problems is hopefully a relief. It reminds us that we’re not alone. While Hannah Baker might not be real, too many of us relate to her story.
These are my top reasons for loving the show. Overall, the creators did a fantastic job at making difficult subjects entertaining to watch, yet remain truthful to them. Give this show a watch!
If you liked this post, I’ll be making a list of what I didn’t like about the show, so stay tuned for that!
Let me know what you thought of the show in the comments below!
See you next Wednesday! (And sometimes Sundays!)