“No one knows for certain how much impact they have on the lives of other people. Oftentimes, we have no clue. Yet we push it just the same.”– Hannah
In the Beginning
The sample of 13 Reasons Why has sat on my Kindle for year. I’m a sucker for teen dramas, but the description of this one particularly intrigued me.
When I saw Netflix was turning it into a series and Dylan Minnette was going to star in it (I knew him from season one of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), I was immediately intrigued.
Soon, March 31 came around, and I had totally forgotten that it was due to be released until it was featured in the Netflix app as I settled in to watch a movie that night. I started with one episode. Then, another. I was hooked and stayed up way too late that first night and binged the series the rest of the weekend.
13 Reasons Why tackles the reasons leading up to a teenage girl deciding to take her own life, each reason realized in a serialized fashion that has you on the edge of your seat. Every episodes peels back another layer as the “mystery” is revealed. It works really well and redefines Netflix’s binge watching style.
What really makes 13 Reasons Why stand out, however, is the way it captures the teenage dynamics. The relationships between the main cast of characters feels real and echoes of those I remember in my own high school experiences. From the every-rotating circle of friends to the struggles of balancing school, home and a personal life, everything sticks its landing.
Yes, some of the characterizations seem a bit heightened – or, at least, more remote. I know there are many kids who live in really crappy situations – from abusive relationships to blatant alcoholism – but almost everyone seemed to have absentee parents who could (should) have caught most of these issues, nullifying the implications.
Of course, then we wouldn’t have the story we do, where each character plays a part (sometimes knowingly and sometimes not) in Hannah deciding that death is the easiest answer.
Two Minor Things
It’s hard to gripe about a show that had me hooked the whole way through, but there are two parts that did stick out as minor annoyances.
First, the teenagers are way too self aware of themselves. I’m not saying teenagers aren’t capable of such introspection, it’s just uncommon and unlikely amongst a group so large. Tony, in particular, doesn’t act his age throughout most of the story. Again, the part he plays wouldn’t work if he did, but still…
Second, I understand the actions of Hannah’s parents. They lost a daughter and they’re hurting. It’s logical to seek answers and to try and place blame elsewhere, but the way we see it on screen (including some heart-wrenching scenes by both Kate Walsh and Brian d’Arcy James) doesn’t do the couple justice. While logical and probably common, the Bakers come across a bit too villainized for my liking. Again, they’re hurting, but they seem to want to blame everyone but themselves. There is hardly any mention of them wondering what they could have done to prevent the tragic death of their daughter.
Let me be clear: I’m not placing all the blame on them. They had their own struggles going on, but – as I mentioned above – there’s a lot of absentee parenting going on in this story, and they kind of fit in that category as well.
Then again, the show is called 13 Reasons Why, and while they might not be a numbered reason, maybe that’s the point the writers were trying to make.
Still, these two small points don’t hold 13 Reasons Why back from greatness and must see status.
As I finished the final two episodes, having uncovered most of the mystery at this point, what intrigued me the most were the seeds planted for an assumed second season. Having still not read the book, I’m very intrigued to do so now to see if any of these parts are in there as well.
I’m not sure how a story like this can continue. It certainly can’t in the fashion is already has, even though the writers are making it clear that there’s more story to tell.
It’s impressive that they included any build up into a continuation at all. As I watched most of the episodes, I figured this had to be a one-off miniseries, but they laid enough ground work to make my intrigued for season two (should one happen).
It excites me to see how many people are talking about this show online. Sometimes Netflix shows are released without much hoopla and seem to go unnoticed, as others, like those by Marvel, are touted on high shoulders.
If you haven’t checked out 13 Reasons Why, do yourself a favor and do so. You’ll be hooked right from the start.
5 / 5
What did you think of Power Rangers? Do you agree with my thoughts? Did you have a different experience? Share what’s on your mind in the comments below and let’s discuss.