On March 31st, 2017, a brand new Netflix show known as 13 Reasons Why was released, which triggered an online debate from many viewers.
Based on the 2007 young adult novel by Jay Asher, 13 Reasons Why is about a teenage girl named Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford) who commits suicide, and leaves behind thirteen tapes explaining why. A friend of hers named Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette)– who also had a crush on her– receives the tapes one day, and listens to them as the mystery unravels for he and the viewer. While this show was flawed in areas, it was able to fulfill certain requirements that a good television series should have.
“I thought it was a wonderful heartfelt show that would make any viewer look back and think about what they say to others,” said Philip Smith, a freshman at Perkiomen Valley High School.
The show incorporated very complex characters which I found admirable. There were the classic stereotypes that a high school drama would have, but they spent a lot of time giving a character their own story that sometimes went beyond their stereotype. They had a good side for characters like Justin (Brandon Flynn), and gave the innocent-seeming characters like Sheri (Ajiona Alexus) a story that made them not-so-innocent. It was all a way to say that not everything is what it seems, and that people can’t always see what goes on in the life of another person.
The way that the time was handled in this show was also clever, but at times it was confusing in order to embellish the mystery. Clay listens to the tapes in the present, but it also shifts into the past -before Hannah commits suicide- to give a visual of Hannah’s narration that Clay gets to “watch with the viewers.”
There were other positive aspects to this show, such as the phenomenal acting and that there’s nothing else like it on Netflix. However, the show has drawn negative opinions from viewers as much as it did with positive opinions.
“I felt that Hannah was a bit undeveloped. She kept getting herself into situations and didn’t learn from her mistakes,” said Alicia Taylor, a mother of three. “I also feel like it may put ideas into the minds of teenagers that suicide is the way to get vengeance, which it isn’t.”
While the idea of Hannah creating the tapes and the planned out tapes was an interesting idea, it seemed too outlandish for a girl who was on the brink of committing suicide. Some people also believed that having thirteen reasons was a bit of a stretch.
“Some reasons seemed a bit more like Hannah just overreacting, but that’s just how I see it,” said a high school student from California who asked to remain anonymous.
Even with all of its flaws, 13 Reasons Why is a very unique show for Netflix, and is well-written and greatly acted teen drama. Whether it always handles its subject matter perfectly will be up to the viewers, but it’s a worthy effort. ◆