Tuesday, April 11, 2017

13 Reasons Why Season 1 Netflix Series Review

13 Reasons Why (2017-)
Season 1 - 13 episodes (2017)
Watch 13 Reasons Why Season 1 on Netflix // Buy the book Thirteen Reasons Why
Created by: Brian Yorkey
Directed by: Tom McCarthy
Starring: Dylan Minnette, Katherine Langford, Brandon Flynn, Christian Navarro
Rated: TV-MA

This drama is based on the 2007 young adult novel. Clay (Dylan Minnette) finds a box on his doorstep addressed to him two weeks after his classmate Hannah ended her life. Inside he discovers seven tapes outlining the thirteen people that are reasons why Hannah did it

This is a well-crafted show that uses expert editing to drift between present and past as Clay slowly uncovers the multitude of reasons that led to Hannah's death. This is a great example of why books should become a limited series instead of a movie, they need more time to unfold.
The writing captures the awkwardness and pitfalls of high school, with ever changing alliances and hookups. It's engrossing as we learn more each episode while being teased about what's to come.
Half way through, I had no idea how this would end, but it details how even the most self assured people face challenges and torments. High school is cruel and self preservation is prevalent. Nearly any of the characters in this show will sacrifice a friend to save themselves. 
Suicide does happen, and it's only by talking about the issue that it can be changed. This show doesn't glorify it and never once implies it's a viable option. This is more than entertainment, using that medium to discuss a difficult subject.
The show is tragic and haunting, leaving me more more empathetic to everyone around me.

Watch it.

This series catapults near the top of the list for the best shows on Netflix. This far reaching conspiracy keeps getting deeper, while exploring the causes that can lead to suicide. I wondered if there would be closure. Will justice be wrought?
It was never any one thing that caused Hannah to kill herself, it was a combination and continuation of betrayals, attacks, and failures to act.
The first few episodes had a hint of Veronica Mars (2004-07), with a high school girl dealing with trauma. 13 Reasons Why  quickly sets it apart, exploring bullying and suicide. These issues are faced by every high schooler, and they often go ignored. No one wants to talk about it.
Each reason is a person that betrayed her or broke her spirit in one way or another. The show is full of twists and turns as it details Hannah's life. The story isn't told in order, but by the end you'll have a full picture of what transpired.
At first I found it bewildering as I tried to piece the timeline together, but each episode focuses on a person that affected Hannah, and all of these people and resulting stories overlap. Almost anyone in this show is willing to throw someone under the bus to save themselves. Self preservation is a powerful motivator, but it also causes a lot of destruction.

Suicide isn't just something weak people do, no matter how confidant someone might be, they're dealing with something. It can add up and reach a point where someone just can't take it anymore. Hannah didn't seem like the type to kill herself, but there is no type. How things seem aren't how they actually are.
Technology today amplifies the situation as most people never leaver their phones and bullying can continue through that medium. 
These tapes were something Hannah created as a suicide note. They've been passed around by the people on the tapes, per the rules, and now they've reached Clay. It's difficult to listen to the tapes, as he hears Hannah explain the suffering she's endured, much of it unknown by Clay. What he did know, he didn't realize how much it affected her. He blames himself for not doing more.
We eventually realize as Clay does that he's the tenth person to listen to the tapes and the first to want to act, even to his own detriment. That explains why various classmates have suddenly taken an interest in him and are being nice. They want to stop him from doing anything. It's the same self preservation instinct that broke Hannah's spirit.
He wants justice, for those responsible to pay for what they did, for the damage they caused. He's guided by Tony, a classmate who promised to help Hannah distribute the tapes. At times Tony seems like some leather jacket wearing, classic Mustang driving, mystical guide, but he's just trying to honor Hannah's wishes. Clay learns he's on the tapes, and delays listening to his tape, scared he might also be responsible.

The first few episodes generate a lot of questions, and the series will get to all of them by the end of the season. Episodes imply that Hannah may have lied on the tapes, and Tony cryptically states she told her own truth on the tapes. It's important to note which characters state she lied.
While Clay is listening to the tapes, his mother's law firm is hired by Hannah's parents to sue the school. Clay's mom is completely ignorant about what's going on, as are most of the adults. Even when questioned, Clay denies even knowing Hannah well. The fact is he liked her, and that is why he has such a hard time listening to the tapes.
It's difficult to reach out when you need help. While the parents are ignorant, they aren't apathetic. They just don't know. Without openly talking about it, things can't change, but both sides need to make an effort.

The final episode is rough to watch. It's moving and powerful, graphic in recounting Hannah's last moments, but it never felt manipulative. The series has gone to great lengths to portray her suffering, and that scene is as rough to watch as it was for her character to undertake. I never strayed far from the idea that while this show is fictional, these things happen.
The episode is a culmination of everything we've seen with students recounting their stories on the record, and not always truthfully. 
Characters on the show admit Hannah wasn't perfect, but that also ties back to the stigma of talking about suicide. It's a scary topic. She tried to reach out in the only way she knew how. It wasn't enough. 
Towards the end of the episode, Clay asks a friend if she wants to hang out. At first it seemed too shallow. He's going to be nice to people to stop them from committing a similar fate, but the more I thought about it, the more I liked the scene. Clay realizes that even actions he thinks go unnoticed can play an impact. While he used to hang out with that classmate, did drifting apart create an unknown rift? I'd also like to think that Clay realizes you need a network of friends. You can't go life alone. You need someone that will support you and also call you out when needed. He picked a person that could do that. It wasn't just about him helping someone else, it was about reaching out and seeking support.

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