Netflix is breaking the #YoungAdult mold by turning books into TV shows instead of movies, and the latest in the lineup expansion, 13 Reasons Why, is breaking the mold in yet another way. After the first full trailer dropped, fans of the book had a lot to talk about. Not all of it has been good. 13 Reasons Why, as brought to life by Netflix (and Selena Gomez), appears to be significantly more dramatic than its paper and ink counterpart.
Check out the trailer:
From prom scenes to a surprising amount of handguns, 13 Reasons Why is already straying far from the novel. Considering its dark, intensely personal source material, is this a good sign?
The Mixtape Story
Thirteen Reasons Why, the 2007 novel by Jay Asher, follows a boy named Clay (played by Dylan Minnette in the adaptation) who comes home one day to find a package of cassette tapes on his front porch. When he cues one up, Hannah Baker's voice crackles through his headphones. There's a slight catch. Hannah Baker (Katherine Baker) killed herself two weeks ago. Clay listens to a verbal suicide note which contains the thirteen reasons why Hannah Baker chose to end her life.
Thirteen Reasons Why is an intimate, harsh tale that made waves when it was released. Reviewers praised it for tackling such hard themes, and the unique narrative style hooked teen readers. Fast forward to the present. Netflix looks to be remixing the story with a new vibe. Instead of keeping the slower, narrative-heavy style of the book, the trailer for 13 Reasons Why plays out more like a tense high school #drama. Fans have spotted two added elements that could really tangle up the tape of this series.
Too Much Drama
Alright, alright. Let's settle something very important first. If we know anything about trailers, it's that they feed off the most exciting parts of a story. Can we really make assumptions about a #TV series that hasn't even been released, especially if the red flags are just reactions to marketing that is, essentially, doing its job correctly?
Book fans seem to think so. The trailer for 13 Reasons Why shifts the dramatic focus away from individual characters and places it on high school scenes—some of which never happened in the book. The marketing strategy pins 13 Reasons Why as a mystery, but that it isn't accurate to the content of the book.
Perhaps the most apparent change is the added intensity, and not just quick-cut moments trailers use to hype us up. 13 Reasons Why carries some big changes on the action front. First, we see Clay holding a gun. A safe full of pistols sits beside him, and Alisha Boe's character (Jessica) shows him how to hold the weapon. Second, Clay confronts people at school with clenched fists and a red face, shoving open doors and shouting at the top of his lungs.
13 Reasons Why has ratcheted up the tension. Most book-to-screen adaptations do this to some extent, and most turn out wonderfully (think A Series of Unfortunate Events). What exactly is the big problem here?
'13 Reasons Why' Comes With A Message, And Fans Are Scared It Will Be Forgotten
One of the biggest draws of the book was the emotional depth. Clay and Hannah's story is raw, gut-wrenching, and honest beyond comfort. The main concern here is the fact that added drama and intensity will affect the themes of 13 Reasons Why. Will the genuine connection be lost? Will the challenging subject of suicide be muddled under the mystery?
Though fans are skeptical—for good reason, admittedly—many people still have high hopes that the TV series will be just as good as the book.
Adapting books for the screen is never an easy job. You've got to keep the fans happy, the studio happy, and still make it worth watching for everyone else. Even though the first #trailer for 13 Reasons Why has raised some red flags over the story adjustments, we'll have to wait until March 31 to put on our headphones, press play, and uncover the truth.
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