REVIEW: 13 Reasons Why

This isn’t Hannah, but it is a review of Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why and it’s pretty full of spoilers… so read on at your own discretion.

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First of all, I want to share a bit about me that might help explain why I feel the way I feel about some things on this show. I went to a high school that has a crazy high suicide rate, so one of my biggest fears when the tapes first got introduced in this series was that it would inspire the future suicides from my high school to start leaving tapes/audio files/ a scavenger hunt.

To everyone who is feeling helpless, please visit this site and call the number provided for help, and whatever you do, do not take this show as an example of how to “leave a note”.

Secondly, I recently lost someone and seeing parents in grief over the loss of a child is very hard for me to see. I’m sure it’s hard for everyone to watch – and the actor’s performances were fantastic – but it burns my soul to see it again and again because I have that visual in my real life.

Now, on to the show:

The actors on this show are fantastic! Every single one of them was unbelievably believable, from our beautiful and tragic leading lady Hannah (played by Aussie Katherine Langford) to our pining puppy-dog Clay (played by Awake alum – and recent star of the Goosebumps movie – Dyan Minnette) to the rest of our diversely awkward and insecure high school stars.

About the tapes… When we are introduced to Clay and the tapes we get the sense that everyone on the tapes are assholes… and if Clay is on the tapes, then he must’ve done something terrible. OR it would be a safe assumption that, if he didn’t do something terrible, he’d be the last tape – the only glimmer of hope in Hannah’s constantly shitty world. But once Clay started acting out, exacting revenge-ish, on Hannah’s bullies, it got me angry. Everyone keeps telling you that you’re on the tapes, Clay. Why not see how you F-ed up before calling everyone else out?! Don’t turn anyone in and until you’re sure you’re in the clear.

And once Clay was in the clear, he had no reason not to turn in the tapes. Sure, finish listening to them if you want, but Turn Them In. Take them to your mother. Or the police. Or anyone!

I guess the other piece I wanted to mention was Tyler – this character is clearly the obvious choice for the show to create a “school shooter” and these kids aren’t so stupid that they wouldn’t have figured it out. After all the stuff Hannah went through and revealed in her tapes, wouldn’t they think to be nicer to the kid – he was clearly going to either kill himself (adding another body to their count) or he was going to snap and take it all out on you.

Not to get too cynical (or dark humor-y), but after Columbine (some of you may be too young to know what I’m talking about and that’s sad), we were all told what to look out for: the quiet loners. Stop picking on the lanky loser. He’s the safest bet to shoot up the school.

I’m aware this isn’t a joking matter, but the lack-of-awareness of these kids was an oversight.

Part of the show can be seen as a reminder to be kinder to others and take responsibility for your actions. But while Hannah’s spiral into depression and eventual suicide was exacerbated by her classmates, ultimately we must remember that the decision she made, in the end, was her own. And if anyone was really at fault, I’d like to remind everyone that the adult she asked to help her kind of victim blamed her and ignored her as she asked for help. When I was in school, if a Mandated Reporter (which is what he was) even suspected that a student was hurt or going to hurt themselves, they immediately took actions whether you wanted them to or not.

Finally, about the numerous sexual assaults. The actions that occurred after the photos was released and “the list” were not only an accurate depiction, but also perhaps too subtle. The conversation between Clay and Hannah – where she tells him that the list was not a compliment – needed to be had again. As this show was geared towards women this message was “preaching to the choir”. We understand that this type of “innocent” behavior is a result of our rape culture.

And it was clear early on that Hannah was going to get raped… actually, I worries she’d be raped a few times based on how things were going. And the sad, heartbreaking depiction of Hannah’s hot tub assault was so realistic it was hard to watch.

Now that we’ve heard all the tapes, and that some of the kids revealed their existence, I’m not sure where the show will go from here (especially since we know what led to Alex’s attempt and Tyler’s future school shooting).

What did YOU think of the first season of 13 Reasons Why? Let me know on Twitter @yaeltygiel

— Yael Tygiel