There’s nothing like binge-watching a good television show! With that said, Netflix’s newest original series, 13 Reasons Why, brings a whole new level to this type of viewing. Based on Jay Asher’s best-selling young-adult novel, the series follows Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford), a teenager who previously recorded thirteen cassette tapes before taking her own life. Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette) gets hold of these tapes two weeks after his classmate’s death, which only can mean one thing: He was one of the reasons Hannah Baker committed suicide.
Although Asher’s book was published in 2007, the story has made an even bigger impact ten years later. 13 Reasons Why covers every important topic imaginable: mental health, bullying, suicide, sexual harassment, social media, LGBT+, diversity, and the list doesn’t end there. The series does an impeccable job of revealing the reality of high school. Rather than romanticizing important topics, like other shows and even musicians tend to do, 13 Reasons Why reminds viewers of the severity of people’s words and actions, and the effect they have on others.
Utilizing flashbacks, the series is told by both Hannah and her friend-turned-crush, Clay. While this dual narration might sound daunting at first, the show smoothly transitions from past to present to tell a seamless story. Along the way, viewers quickly fall in love with Clay and Hannah’s relationship, which makes the ultimate outcome of the series that much more bitter-sweet.
The majority of the show’s cast is new to the acting scene. In fact, 13 Reasons Why is the first television role for Katherine Langford. However, viewer’s would never be able to tell due to the raw talent and emotion Langford portrays when depicting Hannah. You’ll cry alongside her, want to be her friend, and wish you could have done something more to change Hannah’s choice. Dylan Minnette is another actor to watch. His portrayal of Clay is everything anyone could ever want in a high school boyfriend. Witty, awkward, and all-around kind-hearted, Minnette brings Clay to life like no one else could. In Liberty High School where the halls are ruled by jocks and parties rage on every corner, it’s nice to find comfort in a character such as Clay. Other standout performances include Christian Navarro’s good-guy and “unhelpful Yoda,” Tony, who is trusted beyond the grave by Hannah, and does all he can to protect Clay. As well, even though he’s only in a few episodes, Jeff Atkins (Brandon Larracuente) instantly became a fan favorite.
The decision for 13 Reasons Why to be a Netflix’s original could not have been a better choice. By releasing the episodes, or tapes, all at once, it brings the audience directly into the show. Will you listen to the tapes all in one night like Alex (Miles Heizer) did? Or will you take your time and go one by one, following in the footsteps of Clay? No matter your choice, 13 Reasons Why is not a show to be missed. Buckle up, and be ready for the ride of your life.
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