Katherine Langford, left, and Alisha Boe play frenemies in the Netflix series “13 Reasons Why”. Photo courtesy of Tribune News Service
When I woke up to a Netflix notification for the 13 episode series 13 Reasons Why, I instantly hit play. At first, I expected it to just be another series aimed towards teenage girls, like Pretty Little Liars or Gossip Girl, but the in-depth look into bullying and real life as a high school student got me hooked after two episodes.
13 Reasons Why portrays a teenage girl named Hannah Baker who commits suicide and leaves behind 13 prerecorded tapes of her story, each tape revealing a reason why she killed herself. These tapes were then passed to everyone who was mentioned in them, including her secret crush Clay Jensen, her ex-boyfriend Justin Foley and her ex-best friend Jessica Davis. The characters then had to work together to either make or break Hannah’s reputation in a trial against the school.
The tapes get rotated between popular jocks, Hannah’s old friends and love interests and even her high school counselor. One of the main themes of the series is that someone who needs help isn’t always the quiet girl in the corner of your 3rd hour or someone who is asking for help, but it could be someone who seems fine on the surface.
Before its release on Netflix on March 31, I had never heard of 13 Reasons Why, but some light research led me to find that the author of the book, Jay Asher, visited East in 2014 to promote his book and talk to students about bullying.
Overall, I found no faults in the acting portion of the series and I couldn’t have picked a better cast myself. At times, certain points in the plot confused me, and if it weren’t for the scar on Clay’s face, I wouldn’t have known what was in the past or the present the entire series.
The TV-MA rating of 13 Reasons Why added to the true high school experience, with not only the explicit word choices but the cruel actions and bad decisions committed by the characters. Some of the main topics touched on in the show are rape, drunk driving, partying, drugs and suicide, which are all very prevalent in high school culture.
Although the actual recording of the tapes doesn’t seem too plausible, 13 Reasons Why accurately portrays the ups and downs of high school relationships. It might seem cheesy, but this series changed my perspective on how I treat people around me because I truly don’t know what they are going through.
The different character’s situations makes you realize that every school has a Clay Jensen, a Justin Foley and even a Jessica Davis. The show starts off with name-calling and rumors, but by the end, it’s a completely different, much darker story.