A & E

Published on May 5th, 2017 | by Tessa Jackson

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13 Reasons Why Review

Netflix has long been the binge-watching destination for the majority of people. In 2013, they began tapping into this wealth of viewers by creating their own programming. “13 Reasons Why” is the latest addition to this category, and definitely maintains the high standard Netflix has set for its programming.

“13 Reasons Why” (based on the book by Jay Asher) is about the suicide of teenager Hannah Baker, or more specifically the chaos she leave behind. She records 13 tapes, all documenting the main 13 reasons she killed herself, and leaves them to be passed along to the 13 people. Clay Jensen, the living protagonist, receives the tapes and is both intrigued by their information, and horrified to find that he is on them.

Because the show is on Netflix, it’s able to be completely uncensored. As a viewer warning, there are graphic depictions of rape, violence, and Hannah’s suicide. This caused controversy when the show was first released, but has been defended by the show’s creators and Asher as necessary to portray the intensity of the story. Even though the show isn’t  for the faint of heart, the graphic nature does add to the impact it leaves on you. It’s nearly impossible to walk away without feeling differently.

One unexpected element of the show is the character development.  It’s easy to label heroes and villains, but it’s difficult to be one all the time. Almost everyone on Hannah’s tapes gets to share his or her side of the story, with the audience feeling ranging levels of sympathy. Without giving anything away, most of the characters turn out to be very different from the versions of them introduced in the first episode.

What makes the show so good however, is the phenomenal cast. Better known actors like Kate Walsh (Mrs. Baker) and Dylan Minnette (Clay Jensen) are matched or even out-performed by relative newcomers like Katherine Langford (Hannah Baker) and Alisha Boe (Jessica Davis). All of the actors completely transform into their character, no matter the difficulty. Without the cast, “13 Reasons Why” would be dead on arrival.
Between the powerful plot and well written and acted characters, “13 Reasons Why” meets and surpasses the standard for original Netflix shows.

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