Honestly, we’ve all binged watched and seen all of it in a week. It’s all over the internet and prompting so much conversation, (like it intended to of course), that I doubt that anyone who is reading this doesn’t know about what goes on in the show. So sorry, I’m not about to give a spoilers warning, because I don’t care; but fair game, if you haven’t watched it and somehow avoided the topic all week, you probably won’t understand anything I’m about to say (like you’ll be confused more than usual).
The TV show is based on the book by Jay Asher (2007), which my friend found in the library at school on the last day of this term, and I can firmly say that I’m definitely an expert now, having read like seven pages.
So without further ado, I give you;
13 Reasons Why ‘13 Reasons Why’ is the Greatest Horrible thing that has ever Happened.
It’s on Netflix!
By far the biggest advantage of the internet and the eruption of Netflix is that we can watch it all at once, which I think this show had to be. You’re supposed to feel overwhelmed. It’s supposed to just turn up out of nowhere, and let me tell you; no one saw this show coming.
The one downside to Netflix though, is that unlike MTV, it doesn’t say the names of the songs in the show. So for those of you who are hopeless with googling lyrics or don’t have Shazam… here’s the song that Hannah and Clay danced to, (pretend it’s on a tape, and I just handed it to you please, be flattered, I’m being super romantic here, sharing music and stuff).
You’re Welcome. Honestly, I like the way they didn’t use too much commercial top 40 stuff; it promotes a good message and good music!
The actors themselves- a bunch of nobodies
The show introduces not only talented, underrated musicians but also actors. I think that was crucial. It makes it real, because big celebrities aren’t often viewed as real people of course, but imagine having your big break on a show like this.
Hannah is an Aussie!
Although, Hannah, you betrayed us. You’re supposed to start on Neighbours! I forgive you though, and I’d like to suggest very firmly that we become best friends, thanks kindly. For those of you who haven’t looked into it, her name is Katherine Langford and here’s her Instagram page, https://www.instagram.com/katherinelangford/?hl=en, again, you’re welcome.
Three days into watching it, I found out that Selena Gomez helped produce it. She is the one celebrity I can think of that is so famous (you know, just having posted the most liked photo on the internet and all) and has never used her popularity for anything other than spreading important messages, and not just spreading her legs, right? Anyway, all the cast are best friends with her now, and they get the semicolon tattoos today, and it’s adorable and so important.
They also did a slight explanation episode, in which Selena and the cast talk about the show’s message in detail, explaining that it is and should be personal to everyone and that they didn’t censor the rape scenes or the suicide scene, they kept it real.
If there’s one thing, I love more than this show, is its honesty. Not the pretty kind of honesty, which is linked to loyalty and fairytale values, not the kind of honestly we’re taught as little kids where we have to admit that we broke something, no, this honesty says not to avoid the ugly part of life. The fact that things are already broken and they will be broken and these rules and values we were taught, will and are being broken every day. This show was supposed to break your heart. In fact, the central message is that hearts do break, and no matter how careful and nice we think we are, the truth isn’t always pleasant. If you didn’t tear up, man, teach me your ways. The blunt truth will always make people uncomfortable, and I think that’s what we work toward as a society. To make people comfortable in the uncomfortable (despite all the political correctness, that is). That part is personal to me.
They kept the Language/Structure of the Book
They wrote the script the way it’s written in the book. Blunt and confronting sure, but inspiring and significant. The writing itself is structured so well, and so realistic. That’s the way I’d like to write. That’s the way things should be written. That’s the way everything should be put out into this world.
They let it run itself, (Lack of advertising)
Speaking of the way it was put out, notice how they had like three clips and just ran them as YouTube ads? That’s it. There wasn’t any massive promo leading up, no annoying nudge to watch the show. They let it speak for itself, and it got people talking really quickly.
As made glaringly obvious by my re-wording of the same opinion… the message has depth. But individually, I think they did a superb job with the depth of the characters themselves.
- Hannah Baker; Obviously she’s important, but I think above all, she plays on the idea of ‘secrets’ and ‘lies’ being two very different things.
- Clay Jensen; Shows the way we never really know what we mean to people, how we are often baffled by the fact that we are essentially who we are in someone else’s point of view, but we also decide whether we live up to that and what we do with that knowledge.
- Justin Foley; I like how sensitive he is. I think his situation touches really nicely on gender stereotypes and expectations.
- Jessica Davis; Between her and Hannah, I believe that this character highlights that similarities don’t always bring people together, the way they deal with it does. Ultimately, no matter what circumstances we are put in, it often comes down to us alone.
- Alex Standall; Similar to Jessica. We don’t know what goes on in other people’s heads. Issues between the push to fit in during high school, but also to express our individuality effect some people harder than others.
- Tyler Down; This one’s simple, don’t bully people. Don’t underestimate people, because everyone snaps at some point.
- Courtney Crimson; Obviously touches on issues of sexuality and development of this idea in high school. She shows the effects of someone’s personal insecurities on the wider society. How the people around you don’t just affect you, you affect those around you too.
- Zach Dempsey; We are not always enough to challenge other people’s past. We can’t expect people to be okay just because we want to help. People won’t always let us care, and that’s okay. But also I wish he didn’t just give up and storm out.
- Bryce Walker; I hope they go into his character more in the second season. All I’ve got is that he has looked after himself his whole life, and I don’t think material objects hold precedence over his friends to him. There’s a reason he’s so messed up, and I need more information. No one is just a crappy person for no reason.
- Mr Porter; People get uncomfortable with the truth. It’s important to know that sometimes the person in front of us is more important than our feelings.
- Tony; He’s just my favourite character. I haven’t figured out why, but he’s my favourite.
- The Parents; FOR GODS SAKE! PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR KIDS! CREATE A SITUATION FROM THE BEGINNING WHERE THEY CAN COME TO YOU WITH ANYTHING AND YOU DON’T FREAK, (except Clay’s Dad. I love Clay’s Dad. He’s doing it right.)
Similarities with the Book
They stayed faithful to the book, which I think is important. We’d far sooner write things than saying them out loud, so I believe that the honesty comes through a lot from the fact that it was written first.
Differences with the Book
Hannah overdoses in the book, from what I could tell in the first seven pages… in the show, we know she slits her wrists…. so look, I’m pretty sure she dies. It’s more realistic and confronting and its way more heartwrenching. I think it was important that they didn’t portray Hannah’s death as a mystery in the show. They have the answers to every question except how to take it all back, and it’s important to know that they can’t.
The Message Itself
I think I’ve pretty much covered this point in all my other reasons, but then, Hannah had the same overarching message in all her reasons too… “don’t be a dick to people”. This show is most significant because it’s so easily brought into real life.
You’re really lucky if you watched this show and didn’t at some point think of a connection between the show and your own life or those of the people around you. It should’ve hit home hard at some point. Whether it be bullying, assault, a death, suicide, drinking, talking, the effect of social media, high school, a car accident, your parent’s involvement in your own life or the shift from that to the participation of friends in the shaping of who you are, depression, anxiety or any other mental health problem.
However, the most compelling message I think is in the scene where Clay loses it at the exchange students, he says something there that highlights how people only help after the unfortunate thing happened. How it shouldn’t have to take something like that to get people’s attention on the issue. That being aware of the problems and actually doing something about it are two different playing fields. Doing something about it starts with a conversation, which is what this show inspires foremost. Have a conversation, talk to someone. I’m not about to hit you with a link to some dumb depression hotline because that’s not the point.
The point is that we can all be there for someone, and we should be. The show even highlights how people who are hired to help someone’s mental state or situation sometimes aren’t able to help. That won’t make them feel less alone. Talk to a friend, talk to your family. Someone who knows you. Because honestly, I think unless what you’re going through isn’t normal, and this show speaks so loudly on the point that these things are in fact normal and common, then you don’t need to be talking to a professional. You need to be talking to someone who will know how to help you.
They Probably won’t Cancel It
Okay so MTV used to have this show called “Faking It”, and I have no idea how it wasn’t more popular than it was. It got cancelled, and that broke my heart a little. The best thing about this show I think is that they can’t cancel it. They can’t. *puts on Barbie girl voice* “I can’t. I can’t even.” Please watch it if you haven’t already. Please. There isn’t a lot of media out there right now that says something as genuine and meaningful as this show does. We have access to all the knowledge in the word these days, so please take advantage of the important stuff.
“But that’s none of my business,”