In an announcement that recieved national attention over a month ago, Netflix released a preview for a television show adaptation of Jay Asher’s “Thirteen Reasons Why.” After hitting Netflix a matter of days ago, the show has proved a hit while promoting awareness of mental illness.
“Thirteen Reasons Why” follows the aftermath of a female high-schooler’s suicide. Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford) leaves behind a series of 13 tapes detailing the reasons why she has committed suicide. These tapes circle around between every person, all 13 of them, as to why they are one of the reasons.
The audience first encounters the tapes when they reach the doorstep of Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette). Clay, who is hinted at having a mental illness of his own, struggles to get through the tapes with his seemingly good memories of Hannah.
Each episode is more harrowing than the next, introducing the audience to the horrors that high-school students, and anyone for that matter, can experience on a daily basis.
Unlike the novel, the show gives an in-depth character analysis and explanation for each reason, something readers didn’t get within the novel. Audiences also get to experience things as Hannah did, as the show did not shy away from showing anything graphic.
Fans of Asher’s novel might be a little apprehensive at the in-depth character analysis and subtle changes throughout the show.
For example, Clay takes his sweet old time going through the tapes, acting out after hearing about each subject on the tape. He appears to be bent of attempting some kind of revenge, a 180 from his one night of listening in the novel.
Another change comes with the adaptations and expansion on the characters. Not only do audiences get Clay’s point of view, but they receive looks into Jessica, Alex and Justin’s lives, something that isn’t explicilty shown in the novel.
These characters also cause a problem when it comes to Hannah’s stories. The show tends to put the blame of what Hannah did on herself, making a lot of audiences uneasy as to the truthfulness of Hannah, again something that is not questioned in the novel.
Instead of accepting their roles in Hannah’s death, they all try to find ways for the tapes not to reach any authority figure, making the audience feel that back-and-forth struggle between what is right and wrong.
As if that isn’t crazy enough, Hannah’s parents are suing the school about their child’s suicide, something which definitely did not happen in the novel. The show follows the Baker’s as they struggle to cope with Hannah’s death, making it easier for audiences to understand the aftermath that of a death.
One of the things the show did right, however, was introduce us to the twenty-first century. Although the use of tapes seem pretty useless within this context, adding the influence of technology adds to the storyline, making it more imperative that things like this could occur at any moment, anywhere.
As for the ending, I won’t spoil too much. However, a host of things occur that never happened in the novel, but add to the show’s plot and enable it to lead into another season focusing on the Baker case and the remnants of this final episode.
It will be interesting to see if Netflix renews “Thirteen Reasons Why” for a second season, as the producers certainly left a lot of unanswered questions and room for expansion.
Although I would hate to see the story expanded upon more than the book that I fell in love with, I don’t see a second season as such a bad thing.
A few of the show’s episodes are labelled as graphic, depicting both rape and suicide, which might make it hard for students to watch. However, do not let this be a deterrent from beginning to watch the series.
Although “Thirteen Reasons Why” may not be exactly like the novel, it makes for a great television binge while also raising awareness of a big problem within today’s society.