There’s a good chance you came across the book “13 Reasons Why” at some point while looking through your high school’s library. It was the essential “teen angst” book.
Now, Jay Asher’s novel about a troubled young woman has been turned into a Netflix series, and it is going to leave you in a puddle of tears.
For those who don’t like talk of suicide or rape, this series will be hard to watch – especially the last two episodes.
The series follows Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette) as he tries to uncover what happened to his fellow classmate and crush, Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford). Baker leaves him and 12 others a set of 13 tapes, with one dedicated to each of the 13 reasons why she killed herself.
The series has a “Pretty Little Liars” type feel, meaning everyone is impeccably dressed, has a cool room and the popular kids have parents you never see.
It’s a world where even the high school dance in the gym looks fun and the athletes are the cream of the crop. Although it’s the artificial type of Hollywood high school we have grown accustomed to seeing, the emotions are real.
The show captures what it is like to be in high school today, complete with the petty backstabbing and social media fueled rumors. It also takes a deep look at how one girl can have her reputation squashed because of a misinterpreted group texted photo. The great thing about this series is that it is relatable. Everyone has been the butt of a joke or has been hurt by someone they thought was a friend. It is a cathartic TV show for the modern teenager and even for college students.
The main character, Jensen, is likable to a fault. He is naive and innocent. You don’t know if you want to shake him and yell, “Listen to all the tapes already!” or allow him time to take everything in.
Baker is the cool girl who tries not to be cool. She is reminiscent of a John Green character before everyone was writing John Green-like characters.
Baker is smart, funny and old school (hence the leaving of tapes). The cast as a whole is enjoyable to watch. There are new faces, like the main characters, and old vets, like Brian d’Arcy James and Kate Walsh.
Though the novel came out 10 years ago, the series follows the book pretty closely. There are some added aspects that allow the possibility of a second season, although another season would ruin the emotional impact of the show.
If the producers show the effects of suicide on family and friends after Baker’s death a bit more, then maybe a second season would be justified. But the final scene leaves everything up to interpretation.
Angst and high school clichés aside, the show is pretty good. It is hard to watch at times, but it gives you the full effect on the life of the American teenager.
“13 Reasons Why” is now streaming on Netflix.