This post contains mild spoilers for 13 Reasons Why.
Have you ever watched something so powerful that it stuck with you long after you finished? Well, the latest original series from #Netflix will do that to you. 13 Reasons Why shares the heartbreaking story of Hannah Baker, a high school student who commits suicide and leaves behind a series of cassette tapes explaining her painful reasoning.
The series is based on Jay Asher's 2007 book, Thirteen Reasons Why, and has been in talks for a screen adaptation for years. The bleak tale of a teen's suicide might not seem appealing, but here's why the series cannot be missed:
1. Newcomer Katherine Langford Shines In Her Leading Role As 17-Year-Old Hannah Baker
Serving at the main character, the young Australian actress powers through intense scenes portraying a struggling teen on the brink of ending her life.
2. The Other Main Character, Clay Jensen, Played By Dylan Minnette
As the story flashes from the past to the present, we also see the story from the eyes of Clay Jensen, who receives the tapes explaining Hannah's suicide — and throughout the series, we get a clearer picture of their unique relationship. It is the chemistry between Langford and Minnette that causes the story to feel genuine.
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3. The Supporting Cast
Hannah's fellow classmates each play a vital role in her decision. The diverse cast also deserve major credit for their portrayals as teenagers, including Christian Navarro, Alisha Boe, Brandon Flynn, Justin Prentice, Miles Heizer, Ross Butler, Devin Druid, Michele Selene Ang, Ajiona Alexus, Steven Silver and Tommy Dorfman. As the story unfolds, viewers learn that each character is suffering with their own struggles, many of which are prevalent in teens' lives.
4. The Series Tackles Important Source Material
This is not the first time we have seen touchy subjects at the center of #TV and film, but often those projects do not dive deep enough. There is no sugarcoating Hannah Baker's story. The warning signs of depression and mental health struggles are accurately touched upon, along with the stigma that often comes with those topics.
5. Other Major Issues Are Discussed
Not only does 13 Reasons Why take on teenage suicide, but also rape, bullying, grief and mental health in general. Friendships and high school relationships also play a huge component, with the series asking the important question: What are you willing to do to climb that social status ladder?
6. Nothing In This Series Is Portrayed Lightly, Nor Should It Be
A few graphic and heart-wrenching scenes serve as integral to Hannah's overall story. The show doesn't hide reality from us, and — although hard to watch — it feels necessary, not gratuitous.
7. The Story's Captivating Structure
Hannah's fate is revealed from the very beginning, which sets up a very unique structure for the series. She explains in her first tape that 13 reasons played a part in her suicide, one tape made for each reason. The series is also appropriately segmented into 13 episodes, giving each factor in her decision ample explanation. Once you begin to watch, it will be very difficult to stop.
8. It Dives Deeper And Deeper
Despite the fact that you know that Hannah made the painful decision to take her life, you still hope that the outcome will change. Switching from past to present really enhances the storytelling in a way that will tear you apart emotionally.
As Hannah shares her reasoning throughout the tapes, she mentions the butterfly effect — the notion that a flap of a butterfly's wings can cause tidal waves somewhere else. The events rely heavily on this thought, with one action resulting in even bigger repercussions down the road. Those could be positive or negative in nature, but unfortunately in Hannah's case, a series of small actions grow into tragedy.
9. Incredibly Relatable Characters
If you make it through the end of the series and don't feel like an emotional wreck, then you might not be human. Most of us can find a piece of ourselves in Hannah or at least some of the struggles that she and her classmates have gone through. Even if our own lives didn't have such severe situations, the teenage years are a tough time.
10. What It Tells Us About Social Media
Technology and anonymity can create a world of hell — and not just for teenagers. Anyone at any age can go through excruciating events that make them feel hopeless and alone, and I love that the show brings awareness to that fact, as we all can relate to some degree.
11. The Realistic Depiction of Justice
Without giving away the ending, I believe that an important theme of the series is the question of justice. Hannah's parents want justice for the death of their daughter, as her school investigates whether bullying was involved. Clay also deems it his mission to gather all the details regarding her suicide, so those responsible can pay. But his quest brings up another important point: Can justice even be served for those who are victims of sexual assault and/or who commit suicide?
12. How It Depicts The Aftermath Of Tragic Events
These are not situations anybody can just "move on" from, especially as they try to put together the pieces of why and how it occurred in the first place. There are people in Hannah's life who have some responsibility to face, and a complicated story like this one shows their journeys as well.
13. It Will Make You Look Out For Those Who Need Help
As most of the characters sadly forget, it is best to take a step back and look out for warning signs in people we care about — because while one small action can cause major consequences, a small action can also be a life-saver.
13 Reasons Why is streaming now on Netflix. Have you watched the series? Comment below with your thoughts and reactions.