The Nugget

13 Reasons Why

A Review of the New Netflix Original Series

Danielle Nelson, Head Writer

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Thirteen Reasons Why is a Netflix original series based on a novel by Jay Asher and was co-produced by Selena Gomez. One of the main characters in the story, Hannah Baker, made the decision to take her own life. Following her decision, she delivered thirteen tapes which she previously recorded to a classmate with instructions to pass them on. Each tape contains one reason as to why she was driven to make her decision through the relationships she had with other students.

The show is meant to spread awareness about teen suicide and several people feel that it also makes the topic easier to bring up. However, one topic that the show seems to miss is mental illness. According to suicide.org, over 90% of those who commit suicide have a mental illness. This is one of the leading causes of teen suicide, and it is not addressed at any point within the series.

I want to start off by adding a disclaimer. Suicide is a very heavy subject, and it is in no-way intended to be glamorized by this series. It’s also very important to know that this show is rated TV-MA and that it also brings in several other heavy topics, such as sexual-assault and drunk driving. Parts of the series are extremely challenging to watch. Most episodes that are deemed graphic and heavy have a disclaimer at the beginning of the show, so viewers are able to decide whether to continue watching.

The classmate who currently has the tapes is Clay Jenson, her co-worker and friend. The viewers find out Hannah’s reasoning as Clay listens. Throughout the thirteen episodes, I grew more attached to a few of the characters because the character development in this show is phenomenal.

Overall, the show was spectacular and very meaningful. The first episode quickly captured my attention with its intense nature. However, the next few episodes seemed a little uneventful. I started to worry that it would be one of those shows where the first episode is amazing, but then the producers struggle to keep the quality the same. At this point, people might stop watching or make the assumption that Hannah is purely “overreacting.” Once I got to the halfway mark, however, I was extremely glad I continued watching.

Episode nine is where I finally found myself in tears, mainly from the frustration that the show was beginning to make me feel. Every episode from there on out resulted in tears at least once. This is also the point where everything starts to make sense. I absolutely could not stop watching; it got to the point where my head was pounding from staring at my phone screen for so many consecutive hours.

One of my favorite things about the show is the way they differentiate what is told in flashbacks before her suicide, and what is happening after her suicide. When Hannah was alive, the colors in the show are radiant and golden. After Hannah takes her own life, everything is gray and dull. This shows how Hannah positively touched the lives of everyone she met, whether she was aware of it or not. This brings me to my next point: the plot that takes place after her suicide is equally as intense as listening to the reasons why she chose to make that decision. The show depicts how each student deals with Hannah’s death and the tapes, as well as the heart-breaking reaction of her parents and the school. The emotions felt by every character are demonstrated extremely well.

After watching all thirteen episodes, I am left with several questions and desperately hope that there will be a second season. Selena Gomez has hinted at the idea of continuing the series, but nothing official has yet been released.

I believe that there are two major concepts to takeaway from this story: all the little things add up, especially when they are combined with other serious issues. Also, you never know what is going on in someone else’s life, so it is very important to take that into consideration before you make a decision you may later regret. However, if a person is dealing with a mental illness it is important to note that sometimes being kind is not enough. Although they may need a friend to help them get through a tough time, if you think they are struggling with suicidal thoughts or a mental illness, it is important to let a teacher, counselor, or professional know.

Despite the difficult scenes and extremely heart-breaking yet relevant topic, I strongly feel that the show was beautifully filmed and has a very necessary message. If you believe that you can handle watching this series, I strongly recommend that you do.

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