Paige Welch, Staff Writer |
Netflix never fails to impress with their original productions. Hotly anticipated movies and television shows have been consistent with the video streaming site’s repertoire. The most recent obsession is “13 Reasons Why,” a mini-series that is, appropriately, 13 episodes long and based off of Jay Asher’s young adult novel of the same name. The story revolves around 13 posthumous tapes left by Hannah Baker, and each recounts why she decided to end her own life. It’s told from the point of view of teenager Clay Jensen as he tries to makes sense of both a complicated tragedy and his own role within it.
The show, created by Brian Yorkey, is consistent with the novel’s main ideals, and emotionally portrays the grief felt by Hannah’s classmates as they cope with her death. My own interpretation of the show is skewed by the fact that I did not read the novel and therefore, do not have the nostalgic connection to the concept. What I can say is that the production value of the show is wonderful regardless of the weak dialogue oriented towards young adult viewers.
Even before its official Netflix release, “13 Reasons Why” was receiving praise from popular online movie review platforms. IMDB.com gave the show a 9.1 rating out of 10, which is a lot higher than one would expect for a young adult show.
Perhaps IMDB’s rating and the rapid rise in popularity prove that this adaptation should not be underestimated by critics of the genre. The pilot episode reigns viewers into the plot by disclosing truths as they are revealed to Clay. I found myself wanting to know what point of view the next tape would hold, and once I started watching, I couldn’t stop before having all of the ends tied.
There is an overwhelming number of positive reviews on IMDB. One commenter wrote, “Profound, moving, disturbing and massively important. Brilliant and devastating in equal measures.” Many others seem to agree with the idea that this is an important show in that it discusses taboo subjects, such as teen suicide, and that it gracefully portrays the complex emotions felt by an entire school community. Plus, the viewers have an incredibly intimate view into the story because of our emotional connection to the characters, especially since they are so well fleshed out.
But, like with anything, there are also the critics. The negative reviews are all directed towards Hannah’s character. They say that her decision to end her own life was “nonsensical” and showed that “she was a drama queen.” But the thing with high school and adolescence is that a lot of things appear to be nonsensical through more mature eyes. Beyond her privileged home life was a confusing high school existence that made Hannah feel as if she needed to take her own life, even if that seemed rash. In reality, these things do happen to teenagers, regardless of their home lives. Perhaps through the example of Hannah, one can see that suicide can affect anyone and in any school community. Adolescence is a reckless and chaotic time for many reasons.
The dialogue can be cliche and immature as expected, since it is based on a book written for a younger audience. But the actual flesh of the show is worth indulging in, regardless of the viewer’s age and maturity. However, “13 Reasons Why” contains content that could be very triggering, and there is a lack of any warning opening the episodes.
Editor’s Note: We can all help prevent suicide. If you know anyone in danger of taking their own life, direct them to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).