This past weekend, Netflix released its new series “13 Reasons Why” on March 31, 2017. The series is based on the best-selling novel of the same name that was written by Jay Asher, and the show is arguably Netflix’s most bingeable series yet—seeing as I finished the whole series in one sitting.
The story’s premise revolves around high school student Hannah Baker, who has killed herself, but not before leaving a series of tapes calling out the names of 13 (maybe it’s 13? No spoilers here!) people whom she blames for her suicide. The tapes serve as a convoluted cycle of pre-recorded letters that is passed between each “reason” until it arrives on the doorstep of notorious nice guy and fellow classmate Clay Jensen. The show spirals on from there as the "wannabe boyfriend" and old crush of Hannah is led on a bewildering journey that is told half in flashback to reveal just how we got to this point.
The series is phenomenal because it deals with a surplus of heavy topics: from sexual assault to drunk driving, which all lead to the holy grail of heavy topics—teen suicide. The story itself is told in such a beautiful and sincere way that once you start an episode, you're pretty much forced to finish the other thirteen immediately after. It does a great job of pulling you in and keeping you hooked as it's chock full of dramatic devices, like the love triangle set in a coming-of-age tale while having a mystery that is all grounded within the delicate walls of high school drama. What could you not love about this series? It literally has everything!
I have a deep amount of respect for this show (which Selena Gomez produced) because it is so rare to see a television show take the time and effort to truthfully show how these heavy topics are experienced by the everyday person. They don't rush the uncomfortable scenes but rather choose to show everything without pushing the line of being grotesque. Furthermore, they tell the story without romanticizing the issues: they tell it to you straight.
There is a romance in the story, but it's told with an aura of authenticity and isn't forced. The show had me crying at all the pivotal points because it really makes you feel Hannah's pain and emotion as she revisits each and every event that happens to her in a gripping voice over. Often, shows and movies make suicide seem not as terrible as it really is, but this series doesn't shy away from the facts as you get to see the effect that things like depression have on Hannah's family and loved ones.
By the end of the series, you'll be left in the dark not knowing what to do next as you mull over what type of person you were in high school and the experiences you had. The series is that powerful. It makes you re-think some of your past decisions as you're left wondering if you ever interacted with a "Hannah" in high school and if you could have potentially been one of the "reasons" but didn't realize it at the time. So thank you Netflix and everyone that worked on "13 Reasons Why" for bringing such a truthful and important story to the spotlight.