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TV Show Review: 13 Reasons Why (Netflix)

Happy Tuesday, everyone! I usually only post MWF, but I was eager to share my thoughts on Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why since I put up my book review yesterday.

I’m more preoccupied with my reading goals, so I haven’t been interested in starting any new shows (even though there are a million I want to watch). But I decided to read Thirteen Reasons Why because 1) there was so much excitement over the show and 2) my co-workers have been poking fun at me for not having read it yet. There has obviously been much controversy over the show because of the topics it covers, including suicide and sexual assault, and because the book, itself, is either praised or criticized for its take on these topics.

So, here are my opinions on the show…

What I Liked:

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  • The acting – The actors in this show are ridiculously talented. The characters I hated were so good that I actually hated them.
  • Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette) – I am totally biased because I loved Clay in the book and I also love Dylan Minnette because he’s adorable. Clay is the ONLY likable character in the book. He is a decent human being – a good boy – who doesn’t deserve Hannah’s post-suicide torment. Dylan Minnette’s acting was fantastic and I honestly cried for Clay. Throughout the show you have to watch him fall a part because of Hannah and find the strength piece himself back together without her.
  • Jeff Atkins (Brandon Larracuente) – Ok, first of all, this boy is HANDSOME. How unfair is this world, amirite?! Jeff is not actually named in the book, and so when he graced the screen, I was intrigued. Like Clay, Jeff is a good person – a sweetheart, a great friend to have. Everyone needs a Clay and/or a Jeff in their lives (I’d prefer both, of course).
  • Tony Padilla – Tony was actually pretty great too. He’s so understanding, slow to anger, and has a great sense of humor.
  • Skye…sometimes – Skye is really rude and like Hannah, I feel like she had these annoying expectations of Clay as a friend and if he didn’t meet those expectations, she used them against him to make him feel like crap because she’s hurting. BUT…she was extremely insightful. Skye is a minor character in the book who Clay suspects is suffering mentally or emotionally. In the show, Skye is a self-harmer and when Clay points this out, she responds that “suicide is for the weak,” implying that hurting herself was a better alternative. Obviously, hurting yourself is never okay and this is so very sad, but she reminds me why I disliked Hannah so much. Because of the way Hannah is designed as a character, her suicide is like payback to the people who hurt her. But Skye is a much more realistic example of someone suffering. She understands what taking her own life would mean, and in a sad sense of strength, she chooses to inflict pain upon herself instead.
  • The music – Like most shows these days, this show had one of those indie-rock mix types of soundtracks and it is so good. Selena Gomez has such a plain voice, but her song Kill Em With Kindness, GOT ME in the feels, guys.
  • Character Sub-plots – What’s really unique about the show is that we are able to see Hannah’s story from various points of views – Hannah’s, Clay’s, parents’, and other students. Even if it’s to defend their own butts, the students challenge viewers to question the credibility of Hannah’s recordings. Indeed, why would  a dead girl lie? The book made it really easy for me to dislike most of the characters without sympathy, but the show made me consider the lives of those involved in Hannah’s story (even though most of them are terrible human beings and I still hate them…).

 What I Didn’t Like:

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  • Hannah Baker –  I’m sorry…but what was so great about Hannah? And WHY was everyone in love with her?? She was cute around her parents, but around her classmates she was kind of a snob.
    What I think was supposed to be her charming wit actually made her rude and a smart mouth, especially to Clay who tried so hard to just be her friend if not more. She criticized every little thing he had to say and turned it against him to make him feel like crap and justify her sadnessI agree, Hannah. He does NOT deserve to be on your list and you most certainly did NOT deserve him as a friend.
    Unfortunately, this show could not save Hannah Baker for me. She is still as spiteful and mean as she was in the original story and I had such a hard time finding anything likable about her.
  • Graphic/Triggering Content – For personal reasons, I was uncomfortable watching this show because of how much the creators were willing to show on screen. The show definitely had me laughing and yelling at times, but when it came down to the real dark stuff, my stomach was churning. Why why why did they have to show every detail of the gruesome content (self-harm AND rape)? Why couldn’t the camera just go off screen or something artsy like that? Like I said in my review about the book, I know these kinds of things get re-enacted all the time, but this show is targeted at teens and can be extremely triggering. We don’t need to see those things happen to understand how painful and traumatizing they are.
  • Season 2 – The book was very one-sided, so you don’t get to see how the other characters – aside from Clay and Hannah – react to Hannah’s stories. But I like that the book was very open-ended (even if the ending was super cheesy), leaving the readers to think about what the next step might be. And while I like that the show gives us these outside perspectives, the creators seemed to be more concerned about the drama of the show, stretching everything as much as possible so they could make a second season. The writers will take any thing you love or enjoy about the show and ruin it for you just to add drama…trust me.
  • Lack of Education on Bullying/Sexual Assault – Sure, the creators showed us what bullying and rape looks like, but where are the consequences? Where are the resources for victims who need more help? Why are the adults in this show so incompetent? I feel for the parents and teachers – teenagers are difficult and you can’t read their minds.  And some of them, like Clay’s parents and Hannah’s, are actually pretty reasonable. But I felt like the teachers and school administrators still didn’t take any of these things seriously enough with their students. Sure they feel bad, but they felt bad for themselves. “This is going to make the school look bad…why didn’t anyone tell us anything…” I know this show isn’t an after-school special and it’s meant to be entertaining…but if you’re going to take advantage of concepts like suicidality, mental illness, and sexual assault, you will be expected to deliver some kind of message to your audience and it damn well better be a good one.

Verdict: I give the show 3/5 🌟🌟🌟. The show was definitely an interesting take on the book and I like that it expanded on the Hannah’s story by providing the audience with multiple points of view. But I still think the show was way too focused on the drama and high-school intrigue, so that it could stretch the story into a second season. The show covers dangerous territory that can be extremely sensitive for all viewers, not just those who have personal connections to the content.

I would love to hear everyone’s thoughts on the show! I definitely gave into the hype and felt the pull and the addiction. Also, I’m totally hopping on the Jeff Atkins Deserves Better bandwagon, WHO’S WITH ME?? LOL.

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