Rating 5/5 – 13 Reasons Why is a Netflix Series based on a 2007 young adult novel called TH1RTEEN R3ASONS WHY written by Jay Asher. I have never heard of this book until the Netflix series, and I heard about the Netflix series on Twitter. I came across a Tweet by YouTube comedian Jenny Nicholson which had #13Reasonsonwhy attached to it and found a lot of people talking about how moving this series was. If you read my social media and blog long enough you’ll know I’m a binge watcher. It takes something special to make me go all episodes of any show. 13 Reason Why is that kind of special. This review will contain spoilers. This isn’t a mystery story, but a lot of it is told through flashbacks, narration and the point of view of our protagonist, Clay Jenson. I’d suggest you go watch 13 Reasons Why if you’re concerned for spoilers then come back and see if you agree with my review. If you have watched it or are not concerned with spoilers, read on.
13 Reason Why Hanna Baker Committed Suicide
Shortly before the beginning of the show, a high school student named Hanna Baker has committed suicide. Clay Jenson knew Hanna and was in love with her and is hit hard by her suicide. While in school he finds classmates coming up to talk to him who have not really spoken with him in the past. When he gets home he finds a package on te doorstep with his name on it and opens it to discover Hanna Baker had recorded 13 Cassette tapes explaining why she killed herself. Every tape has the name of people who made her life a living hell and apparently this box of tapes has circulated to many of them and now is in Clay’s hands. Most of these people have already listened to all the tapes in one sitting, Clay takes his time as he finds every revelation on the tapes harder and harder to comprehend as well as worried about what he may have done to contribute to Hanna’s suicide. The tapes also bring the group who Hanna names as having wronged her together as they are worried about secrets getting out as well as how Clay will react.
Almost everything that’s happened to Hanna Baker in 13 Reasons Why ranges from hard to watch to gut wrenching.
13 Reasons Why Hanna’s Story is Important
I’m not really going to list 13 reasons here, but I will use the how title because it fits the theme of this review. As Clay goes through the tapes and uncovers secrets and truths he did not fully understand while Hanna was alive the story takes us on a journey through the life of a teenager. 13 Reasons why presents the whole range of the kind of horrors teenagers face that adults tend to not notice or shrug off as “experiences.” I’m 54 and I know that feeling. You remember the hell that is High School but you survived and know you son, daughter, nephew or niece will survive too. After the fact, we all remember it was only four years and there were a lot of really hard parts. What we forget is that four years seems like it’s forever and we forget that parts of it were hard as fuck. And we forget how much we did not tell our parents because they were parents. 13 Reasons Why shines a big spotlight on all of it and it makes everyone look in a mirror that stares back in judgment.
13 Reason Why puts a light on all of the horrors of high school. 13 Reasons Why covers bullying, sexism, cliques, assault, rape, stalking, slut-shaming, and how fragile high school relationships are. 13 Reasons why also has a monster, but the monster is a basketball star, therefore, everyone protects the monster. And in protecting the monster others become monsters, and they all think they are being monsters for very good reasons. Then there’s Clay. Clay is not a monster. He’s caught in the middle because he’s the kind of person who thinks a nice person is clearly nice and always nice, and monsters are the things under the bed or the bad man in the bushes. He learns that he might be surrounded by monsters and that he might be one himself. When he reaches his tape he finds the truth not what he expected making it harder to hear.
13 Reason Why I Am Clay Jenson
Everyone finds a passion for a book, comic, TV Series or movie because within them lies our spirit characters – the ones we can relate to the most. This does not mean we can’t relate to more than one. I was Hanna Baker in many ways in high school. My spirit character is Clay Jenson, because I was Clay Jenson.
Have you ever heard the “friend-zone” argument? I mean the adult rationale argument, that there is no “friend-zone” that women are not prizes to be won and that if she wants to be just friends that’s all there is to it. This argument is 100% on the money. I did not always think this way.
In high school, I was the geek, the nerd, the outsider. I did not have a clique, but I gravitated from one group to another. I printed the school “zine” and got involved in science fiction club and the school newspaper. If you ask anyone to think back about me and describe me in one word, the word would be “weird.” Even if you went up to someone who went to school with me, that’s the word they’d use. It’s was the one word everyone used, my friends, my family, my teachers. I embraced it because I thought it did not matter. And in reality, it didn’t. Except when it came to one girl. Her name was Sandy. To say I had a thing for her would be an understatement. I remember the first time I met her, sitting with a group at a table in the lunchroom. She was the most beautiful girl I’d ever seen. I remember looking up and there she was. I was socially awkward and had no clue how to even talk to her, so the relationship I set was the wrong one. Anyway, I was the “nice guy.” The opposites got girls like Sandy. Because did not have a clue I made really bad decisions. Stupid decisions. Here’s the thing – they seemed so important at the time.
The hard truth about my behavior – without any excuses – is I stalked her. It was 1977 to 1980 and we didn’t call it stalking then. There were not hardcore laws on the books about it, but that’s what it was. And until many, many years later the one thing I never did was see that from her perspective. I was in love. Teen love burns like a bloody sun inside you. Here’s the important part – the one that relates to 13 Reasons Why. Out of all the people who label me weird none of them mattered. When the word came out her mouth, it was like having my insides shatter into a thousand pieces. She did not know. How could she? I was just someone who went to school with her and happened to live a couple of blocks away. She would not even remember the day she first said it the way I do. Because I never said anything. Why would I? She has her own life and her own problems. But back then, yeah that shit hurt like a fuck. Oh, and I was also the guy who stalked her. I didn’t take pictures of her bedroom window or steal articles of clothing. I can’t say I did anything criminal, but there was a metric ton of hardcore stupidity.
As far as I know Sandy is still alive out there somewhere. There was a moment when we almost became friends. She initiated that near-friendship. I fucked it up. So as I watched the relationship between Hanna and Clay, I understood Clay. There are people who think Clay should not have had a tape, for good reasons. Because they sympathize with Clay as my friends sympathized with me. Therefore I disagree with that idea. 13 Reasons Why is 13 sides of a human story. In order to understand that story, you have to understand the sides. Even if the side is that of the ‘nice guy” who would never slut-shame, or stalk, or rape, or assault or just be mean. We all think we are the heroes in our stories. Even the monsters. But we are all human. Teen boys and girls, their teachers, their parents, their counselors – all human beings.
13 Reasons Why This is a Human Story
This series is a human story. It’s a loud reflection of the things we see and don’t see. 13 Reasons Why is a reflection on how we treat each other and how we self-delude ourselves into thinking we are always right. 13 Reasons Why shows what could happen when those self-delusions are shattered. This is a story of why Hanna Baker committed suicide, and it needs to be watched because it’s a reflection of us all.
13 Reasons Why This Cast ROCKS
I wanted to write a gut review of 13 Reasons Why, so I’m not looking up actors names or their social media links. I can say the is cast as fantastic, from Clay to Hanna to all the players around the whole story. Even the monster. They all looked, spoke and acted like high school students. There was not a boring character in this show, including the parents and the teachers. If I had to say who stood out, I’d say all of them. This was lightning in a bottle in that the cast was perfect, not one episode was slow and the directing was superb. If there’s any reason to watch 13 Reasons Why the cast alone is worth the price of your time. Let me warn you, it’s a binge-watch. You won’t be stopping this until the next day once you start. 13 Reasons Why is a moving reflection into the soul of a very hard time in life. High School is hell. Not just for the students but for their parents, the teachers, and the faculty. 13 Reason Why opens a window into issues that need to be addressed in a moving story about a girl named Hanna Baker. If you have not watch it yet, you seriously need to.