Show review: ’13 Reasons Why’ – Poignant, profound and prurient story
Hannah Baker’s (Katherine Langford) suicide is followed by the passing around of audio tapes she made before her death, to people on a list. By the time this story starts, the tapes have found their way to her friend Clay Jensen (Dylan Minette), who seems more devastated than most about her death than others. As he finds out more and more about her and who pushed her to such an extreme step, you begin to figure out that Clay probably knew the least about her. He hurtles down a slippery slope of discovery on his trusty bicycle, aided on by a red-Mustang riding buddy named Tony (Christian Navarro).
Clay’s discovery threatens to unearth several secrets, destroy friendships and carefully crafted status-quos.
The 13 episodes of this Netflix show follow Hannah’s story in her own words, through a set of tapes (aka audio cassettes).
Dylan as Clay is too nice, too decent, too eager to do the right thing, too straitlaced to pick up on subtle or even overt hints. He plays the character as an utterly naive person at the outset, soon morphing into her medium/avenging angel.
Katharine as Hannah, the dead girl in the middle of it all, has a more complicated character to deal with. An early indication comes when her friend points out to Clay that Hannah “in her limited time with her” came across as someone with a horrible choice in men. Those words turn prophetic as Hannah spirals down a path that seems to suck all the happiness from her life — friends, classmates, boyfriends, crushes — all deceive her. Katharine nails the role.
Of the supporting cast, it’s only Jessica (played by Alisha Boe) and Alex (played by Miles Heizer) who go beyond the script and bare themselves at their most vulnerable.
Christian, who plays Tony as Clay’s voice-of-reason excels in an author-backed role.
One wishes Kate Walsh as Hannah’s mom had scope to do more in the show other than mope.
Very rarely do you find a show this well-written, that accurately (well, for the most part) captures what it means to be a school kid in America today. The problems it addresses — loneliness, access to education, corporatisation destroying local businesses, bullying, depression, voyeurism, objectification, rape culture, etc — can resonate with even the most insulated viewer. Also, the soundtrack!!
It’s not for everyone. It’s tough to sit through 13 episodes because it takes a lot out of you, emotionally. Especially, since there is a fair bit of repetition throughout (that could’ve been done without). With varying doses of nudity, explicit language, and drug use, it’s not for family viewing, despite the message being that kids need to talk to people they can trust — primarily their parents.
What to do
It’s poignant, profound and prurient while it proves a point. That should tell you something.
- 13 Reasons Why
- Kate Walshh
- Dylan Minnette
- Katherine Langford
- Miles Heizer
- Christian Navarro
- Alisha Boe
- Show review
- Selena Gomez