I’m sure by now many of you have heard about the show "13 Reasons Why", a Netflix original. I’ve watched it all the way through, twice (2.077 times, if we’re being specific). As an avid book reader, I am usually on the side of “the book is better!” when it comes to movie adaptations. However, something I’ve always wanted was a TV show adaptation. How can something that takes more than two hours to read (usually) be incorporated into an hour and a half long movie? It frustrates me to no end; you can’t possibly cover everything!
The idea of a TV adaptation also made me really nervous. How will they drag everything out? How much will they change? I was hesitant to watch "13 Reasons Why" , to say the least. The book is pretty meaningful to me because it addresses topics that people never really talk about. I connect to it really well. As a matter of fact, I hated high school, and I still do. This book shows me reasons for my feelings, which is sometimes difficult to me, having reasons for my emotions. So how would this translate into a TV show?
Starting this show was interesting because in the book, Clay gets through the tapes rather quickly. Each side of the tape is about 30 minutes, but each episode of the show covers one side of the tape for an entire hour. I wondered what else they would include. It was so slow-paced, I didn't know if I could handle it, knowing what I know about the end of the book.
Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised by this show. Here’s why I think that, and also why you should watch it for yourself.
1. The TV show adds a lot more depth to the characters.
The book focuses a lot more on Clay's perspective of the tapes, and his relationship (or lack thereof) with Hannah. The show allows for more of a backstory of each character, and the addition of some new characters.One of the new characters is Jeff Atkins, seen above. He's only in the book a little, but he's a fairly influential character, who deserved better. The characters in the show all have deeper emotions, and reasons, which adds to feelings for each character and their level of redeem-ability. It's amazing to see everything in more detail.
2. It shows a whole range of emotions when it comes to dealing with difficult situations.
3. It covers really difficult subjects, making it more okay for people to talk about them.
4. It doesn’t use extremely popular actors.
Sometimes when watching a show, all you can focus on is where you've seen that actor before, or wondering if they can act differently than in work you've seen previously. Actors that aren't well known allows the viewer to be more immersed in the story, and that is absolutely necessary, especially with a slowly-paced show. Initially, they were thinking of using Selena Gomez to play Hannah. Instead, she helped produce it, which I think really benefits the point of the story.
5. The cast is diverse!!!
I love when shows are diverse. Not everyone in the world is a white male. The two leads are both white, but not everyone around them is. An Asian female plays Courtney crimsen and an Asian male plays Zach Dempsey. Mr. Porter is played by a black male and Sheri is played by a black female. This isn't a lot of diversity but there could be a lot of criticism, especially when it comes to characters being "bad" or "evil". But that would defeat the purpose of the show and the novel, which is my next reason.
6. It teaches the idea that “everything affects everything”.
While this may be a little nerve wracking, it's an important lesson to learn. One of the characters brings up the fact that if one person on Hannah's list had actually been nice to her, none of them would be where they were. This is true. It doesn’t hurt to be nice, and it can help. Just being nice to one person may make that difference. This is so important to learn, and I’m glad a “teen” show addressed this.
I didn't include 13 reasons, because I feel like there are many more than 13 reasons to watch (and also I find that a bit too cliche). My opinion may not matter in the big scheme of things, and you may disagree with my thoughts. But I do urge you to watch the show, just to see it for yourself. I even recommend watching through it twice, just to learn all of the nuances of foreshadowing and character development. This show was beautifully executed, and I won’t even be a little bit upset if they decide to continue the show with additional seasons, beyond the book.
This show has already established that they can go beyond the book in a way that doesn’t detract from the story. I feel that they can continue with the same characters, touching on other subjects that affect the lives of many teenagers here in America, especially with what the ending of episode 13 hinted at. And if you want to know what I’m talking about, well… I guess you have to watch the show.