13 Reasons Why – Netflix Series Review
Having read Jay Asher’s 13 Reasons Why a few years ago, when I saw Netflix had created their own take on it I couldn’t wait to watch it. I’ve just finished watching it and needed a place to put my thoughts. I don’t know that I’d say I enjoyed it. It was genuinely hard to watch in quite a few places. One thing it was undoubtedly, however, is powerful.
What is it about?
Since I read the book a few years ago I’ve forgotten a lot of it, so watching it felt completely new. I remembered nothing more than the very basic plot; that the story was about a girl who commits suicide, leaving behind 13 tapes on which she has recorded 13 reasons why she did it. Whilst I’m fairly sure a lot of the details were changed between the book and the Netflix show, the feeling you walk away with is the same. Both the book and the series left me feeling hugely impacted by what I’d just experienced.
Why is it so good?
Speaking solely about the Netflix show, I think one of the biggest reasons it affected me so much was that it is unapologetic. It deals with some very difficult topics without shying away from them. The series shows issues like rape and suicide on screen in a way that is so powerful you can barely watch.
It highlights just how traumatic these events can be, not just for the people who experience them in the example of sexual assault, but for both that and suicide, it shows the effect on the people around them. The show really did justice to the effect Hannah’s death had on Clay. Throughout the series he is a broken man, trying to do anything within his power to prove his love to Hannah in a way he didn’t whilst she was alive. The effect on him, Tony, Hannah’s parents and other classmates is shown, from those who aren’t hugely affected by it to those whose lives are changed forever as a result of it.
Is it loyal to the book?
As mentioned, I read the book a few years ago and don’t remember all the details. Even so, I’m aware that many details have been changed. Although the book is incredible, I don’t think these changes are bad. From what I remember, the series feels more powerful and shocking than the book did. Whilst the book was an incredible concept, I think the series really added emotion in a different way. Whilst I wouldn’t say it is completely loyal to the book, I think the series took everything that was necessary from the book and built upon that.
This isn’t an easy watch. I’m not sure I’d even say its an enjoyable one. Despite that, it is important. It’s not appropriate for everyone and if you are triggered by or sensitive towards sexual assault or suicide, in particular, it is probably not right for you. That being said, if you can watch it, please do. It is so important to talk about mental health, and this series does exactly that.
I really believe this is the start of a much needed and long overdue discussion about mental health in teenagers. It shows how an off-hand comment could change everything. It shows that even the smallest things make a difference when someone is hurting. And most importantly, it encourages its audience to watch out for signs, and act if necessary. It doesn’t claim that big gestures are needed, but shows that saying hi to someone and talking to them can be enough.
If you’ve watched 13 Reasons Why I’d really love to hear your opinion of it in the comments. If you’ve read the book, will you be watching the series? Did you think the series handled these difficult topics well?