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"13 Reasons Why" this show is so addicting.

Taping her last remarks.

Briana Ryan

Taping her last remarks.

Briana Ryan, Staff Writer

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SPOILER ALERT: The following article reveals details from the plot of “13 Reasons Why.” If you don’t want to be spoiled, stream the series on Netflix first!

 

“Hey, it’s Hannah, Hannah Baker. It’s me live and in stereo. No return engagements, no encore. So settle in because I’m about to tell you the story of my life.” That is the first line of the Netflix adaptation of Jay Asher’s young adult novel, “13 Reasons Why.” And, as it is easy to assume from the blunt nature of that line, this show is like no other. The series focuses on recently deceased teenager Hannah Baker and the thirteen tapes she left behind for her so-called “friends,” detailing why she killed herself. Although the series has received mixed reviews, I truly believe that it is one of the few genuinely impactful shows about today’s youth. So, in true Hannah Baker style, I am presenting to you thirteen reasons why this show has become an instant hit.

 

  • Teenage life isn’t sugar coated.

Being a teenager today isn’t easy by any standards. Pressure from parents and teachers is multiplied by the peer pressure to party and drink, and “13 Reasons Why” showcases this to the fullest. Unlike other popular television shows, the producers of this hit are able to capture teenage life in it’s truest form. The characters are often pressured into drinking, smoking, skipping class and uncomfortable situations, as are many of today’s youth. The show provides a refreshing change from all of the sugar-coated representations, such as in High School Musical, that we see on television today.

 

  • The story is told in an unconventional way.

The plot is told in a mixture of flashbacks and present time, which adds dimension to the narrative. The fact that the main character leaves an essential suicide note in a series of tapes detailing her life, and why it ended, immediately stuns the audience in the first episode. Hearing a dead girl tell you exactly why she killed herself creates the ultimate confrontation. And while it is a bit unsettling, it also makes the series addictingly blunt.

 

  • Suspense

We experience the tapes alongside Clay Jensen, one of Hannah’s friends who receives the tapes at the beginning of the series. As more characters are introduced, the anticipation of what actions gained them a select spot on the tapes increases. For this reason, Clay’s hesitance and inability to get through all thirteen tapes in a timely fashion is infuriating to the audience. However cumbersome for viewers, it is necessary to not divulge all of the story lines at once in order for the audience to get their bearings and grasp onto all the details being explicated.

 

  • They released the season in it’s entirety.

Because our attention spans are deteriorating, Netflix has become our generation’s savior. With Netflix releasing full seasons of our favorite shows and their own addicting original series at once, we are free to binge at our leisure, instead of having to wait a whole week to see just one episode. The fact that I was able to watch all thirteen episodes in two days, only adds to the long list of reasons why “13 Reasons Why” is such a hit in my book.

 

  • The characters are relatable

From good looking and seemingly perfect athletes, Jess and Zach, to a jock with family issues, Justin, and a photography nerd who gets bullied, Tyler, the characters in “13 Reasons Why” do not lack diversity. There is at least one character, if not multiple, that viewers can associate with and use as their moral checkpoint.

“I sure hope [this served as a wakeup call for kids to treat their peers with respect],” said SMCHS School Psychologist Blake Oldfield. “We don’t take these peer to peer interactions as seriously as we probably should. […] I think that it’s something we need to continue to grow in the SM community and being respectful, compassionate and empathetic towards others and what they’re going through.”

 

  • Not just a show for teens

The incorporation of adult figures into the series allows for a reprieve for parents and other adults. They are to relate themselves to characters who are in a position of power and also not feel like they’re out of place watching a show seemingly directed towards young adults. The adults featured provide a cautionary tale riddled with regret and warn parents and adults in positions of power to never overlook the warning signs of depression and suicide.

 

  • It’s based off a novel.

It seems as if almost every movie or television show is an adaptation of a book these days. Nevertheless, these creations are no less addicting, and with a built in book fandom, they pretty much market themselves. Although the producers of “13 Reasons Why” decided to stray away from certain details of the novel, the main idea remains. Small details such as the speed that Clay listened to the tapes at and the method that Hannah used to kill herself, were changed in the television series in order to better deliver the message on the platform. However, more modern aspects such as social media sites were added to update the show from the only slightly outdated novel. Despite these slight changes, the series does the book justice and maintains the integrity of the plotlines.

 

  • It presents real life everyday issues.

Assault. Bullying. Loneliness. These are all things that many teens must experience in today’s society. Multiple characters throughout the show encounter these issues and many more, hard-to-deal with situations. In this way, the show functions as a sort of public service announcement, emphasizing that these commonly thought rarities are more prevalent than believed, and occur in the places, and to the people, you would least expect.

 

  • Brings awareness to extreme topics in a way that is raw and real

“To be honest the most beneficial aspect to the show is that we’re talking about it.” said Oldfield. “We’re talking about teen suicide [and] we’re talking about mental health. [The show] talks about all these things that within society we don’t talk about enough.” With all of the cautionary tales about teenage suicide out there, it’s about time for one that breaks the mold. The industry standard for these types of series and films seems to be a pretty teenage girl who is intensely bullied by her peers for a short period of time, with the conclusion being that she tries to (or succeeds in) killing herself. The reality is that, most often there is not a singular account that drives people to suicide. Rather, there is typically a situation close to that of Hannah Baker’s. Although the title, “13 Reasons Why”, may be misleading, there are many more imbedded reasons that Hannah presents as the cause of her suicide.

 

  • It’s not a cliché where everybody is better in the end

As children, we were taught, through fairytales, to love a happily ever after. As we have grown up we have been forced to become aware to the reality that these happy endings do not exist in real life. “13 Reasons Why” decides to stick to the truth and leaves many characters changed, but equally unresolved.

 

  • The producers don’t hide Hannah’s suicide.

The original novel depicts Hannah Baker using pills to end her life, however, the television adaptation takes another route. Producers of the show wanted to make Hannah Baker’s death an unforgettable event (as if the tapes weren’t enough). For this reason, in the Netflix version, Hannah Baker dies at her own hands by way of razor blades. The show, unconcerned with maintaining “good taste”, vividly captures her death, and does not hide behind creative angles or editing. While the scene is terrifying, it achieves a feeling of satisfaction. “We live in a day and age where gore and realism are as bad as they’ve ever been, so I don’t think that many people were really taken aback by the visual aspect of,” said Oldfield. “We see it, we see it every day, we see it on the news and we see it in movies.” The underdone qualities of the scene that depicts the conclusion of a life, and essentially, the moment that we grudgingly await the entire series for, does exactly what it is supposed to — it leaves us confounded and with a glimpse into Hannah’s infamous suicide.

 

  • The cliffhanger ending

Being left with an unresolved ending is undoubtedly unsatisfying, but it is a good representation of real life. In the aftermath of Hannah’s tapes, the characters are forced to grow up a lot and learn other unpleasant lessons. However, some handle them different than others. Justin is headed off to who knows where, Tyler seems to have some plan involving a possible school shooting, Jess must confront her rape, Clay wants justice for Hannah and Alex supposedly shoots himself in the head. We have no idea if Bryce will suffer the consequences of his actions, which brings about another important life lesson — sometimes the bad guy gets away. All of these “resolutions” realize that, we don’t always know what’s coming and when we do, it’s not always something that we look forward to.

 

  • Everybody had a chance to save Hannah

Arguably the most profound message communicated through the series, is that each character had their own chance to save Hannah. All of their actions set off a butterfly effect that results in her death, yet each character’s contribution to her pain could have been easily avoided if it were for compassion, honesty and bravery. This is meant to awaken the audience to the idea that every action has a reaction and that our actions can mean something completely different for another.

“13 Reasons Why” is a groundbreaking series, and while the book was released over a decade ago, this dramatization has left critics, viewers and social media buzzing. The program manages to emphasize multiple real life struggles while confronting one of today’s most controversial topics. “13 Reasons Why” is available to stream on Netflix, and overall is just the poignant occurrence our society has been in desperate need of.

DISCLAMER: The Eagle Eye staff recognizes that “13 Reasons Why” is not a perfect representation of the life of a person with mental health issues. We do not promote suicide as a viable solution to bullying, depression or mental illnesses, and do not intend to influence students in watching this show. Mental health is a very serious issue and if you or somebody you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, please see SMCHS School Psychologist Blake Oldfield or contact the suicide hotline by calling 1-800-273-8255 or texting ‘Start’ to 741741.

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