Hello, boys and girls, this is your Captain speaking. Live and in stereo. Hopefully you picked up on my subtle nod to Hannah Baker from the book and now Netflix series 13 Reasons Why which happens to be the show that I am reviewing today.
13 Reasons Why is based on the popular book of the same name (Th1rteen R3asons Why) written by Jay Asher about a socially awkward boy named Clay who after the suicide of one of his classmates finds a box of cassette tapes on his doorstep that are somehow related to said classmates death.
- Dylan Minnette as Clay Jensen
- Katherine Langford as Hannah Baker
- Christian Navarro as Tony
- Alisha Boe as Jessica Davis
- Brandon Flynn as Justin Foley
- Justin Prentice as Bryce Walker
- Miles Heizer as Alex Standall
- Ross Butler as Zach Dempsey
- Devin Druid as Tyler Down
- Amy Hargreaves as Lainie Jensen
- Derek Luke as Trey Porter
- Kate Walsh as Olivia Baker
The immediate aftermath of Hannah Baker’s suicide can still be felt throughout the hallways of the local high school. A memorial of photos and touching notes decorate her locker. Teachers are on high alert, looking for signs of the next troubled teen. Absentee parents are trying to be aware. While the student body has #neverforget trending on social media.
For one of Hannah’s classmates, Clay Jensen—the socially awkward boy who had a not-so-secret crush on Hannah—the effects of her death seem to resonate with him a bit more than the others. He takes note of her absence from class and in the hallways.
After school one day, Clay comes home to find a makeshift package on his doorstep with his name scrawled on the surface. The contents of the package: a map and several cassette tapes with the numbers one through thirteen painted on them in blue nail polish. He pops the first cassette tape into his father’s boombox and is nearly floored when he hears Hannah’s voice coming from the speakers. She informs the listener that if they are one of the lucky recipients to receive this package then they are featured on one of the cassettes and ultimately played a role in her decision to commit suicide.
Though visibly shaken and disturbed by the fact that he had something to do with why she did what she did, Clay’s overwhelmed by curiosity and continues to listen. Hannah instructs the listener to go to the first place marked on her map while she explains the significance of it to her story. The subject of tape one: Justin Foley, the boy who gave Hannah her first kiss and only her first kiss, although if you were to ask him at the time he’d say he gave her a lot more.
Her reputation was tarnished after a photo that Justin had taken of Hannah going down a slide in a skirt was made public. People treated her differently after that, including Clay…
When Tape One- Side A ends Clay flips it over and we continue our decent down the rabbit hole.
As a person who actually read (and enjoyed) the book I went into watching the pilot episode with high hopes and even higher expectation. Thankfully this Netflix Original did not disappoint.
The portrayal of Hannah done by newcomer Katherine Langford was better than I could have imagined. She played Hannah as a happy, healthy girl and as certain events unfold we begin to see the cracks and chips of someone who is starting to break. She was delightfully humpty-dumpty- esque.
The viewer gets to see the world During-Hannah and Post-Hannah as the point of view switches between flashbacks provided through Hannah’s narrative and Clays present-day life. With Hannah as our narrator and Clay as our eyes it’s easy to get sucked into Hannah’s descent and the jigsaw puzzle of what went wrong and who did what.
The show itself is very teen-oriented, and at times teeters on the edge of melodrama (as so many teen-oriented shows do) however, it seems appropriate as our narrator is a teen and the events depicted in the show are viewed through young eyes. Moreover, the themes of wavering self-esteem and the ripple-effect of loss can resonate with audiences of any age.
It’s a mysterious-heartbreaking-gem of a show, one that hopefully makes you reflect on the way you interact with people. 13 Reasons Why is a conversation starter. I was engaged until the very last minute. So, Co-pilot, get a snack and make yourself comfortable as you have thirteen episodes to binge-watch.
Thank you for joining me on my couch.
A Message From Your Captain:
If you or someone you know needs help you don’t have to deal with it alone! There are people who can help.
Kids Help Phone: (1-800-668-6868)
Tweet: The Lifeline (@800273TALK)
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: ‘1-800-273-TALK (8255)