There is one main reason why I didn’t post on Thursday apart from life itself. And it’s a small little show called 13 Reasons Why. The adaptation of the popular young adult book is raw, riveting and revealing. Ever since the trailer release, I was hyped. If you haven’t watched the show, watch it now. I guarantee this show will bring on major feels.
Centred around the suicide of Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford), the series follows the lives of those who influenced her decision. With our main protagonist, Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette), we watch as Hannah experiences a series of unfortunate events via a set of tapes she left behind. It’s a story that revolves around real issues like suicide, rape and bullying, and the show doesn’t hold back in its portrayal.
Hannah’s narration places the viewer in Clay’s position: breaking the fourth wall and listening along to the tapes. The last few episodes were particularly unsettling and in moments I found myself hiding behind my hands as I, like Clay, could only witness the horrors unfold – helpless behind my own screen.
The show has the potential to delve into a second season with many uncertainties left for viewers to speculate and ponder. Though, these open-ended questions might also serve as a good ending for the series rather than an absolute cliffhanger.
13 Reasons Why is a great show in many ways. Stylistically, almost every choice added to the narrative and helped create a realistic world for the characters to inhibit and the audience to feel included. From the shaky camera to create a sense of unease to the shift between past and present presented through clever transitions and changes in colour – everything seemed to come together to aid the story. And the relatively fresh-faced cast is a great choice as it brings more focus towards the show’s message and issues rather than the faces in the show itself.
While I was watching 13 Reasons Why, I was reminded of an essay I completed for a TV course in university. We had to analyse a particular show, how it was distributed, how it engaged with viewers and potential for public good. Undoubtedly this show will probably be on the list if the course is still running because of its controversial issues in the form of entertainment.
However, I want to focus on the last point: potential for public good. Many shows include risky subject matter similar to 13 Reasons Why but where the Netflix series deviates is its portrayal on these sensitive topics. It serves the public by showing the realities of such issues and the repercussions that follow. It informs people about the signs to recognise those in need and tests the audience within the show in the case of Alex (Miles Heizer). It shows to the public that these issues should not be taken lightly and that it can happen to anyone. It portrays a real world with a diverse cast of characters from all walks of life – a rarity in media today.
Even though it’s a fictional story, 13 Reasons Why speaks to many, starts a conversation and even help those in need. It’s a story that’s informative and influential. And it’s a story that’s worth watching for many reasons.