13 Reasons Why is one of those shows that I personally am not sure how it ever got made. I’ll start off simply, I will not lie. I cannot stand this show. I read the book and I am someone who usually says the books do not matter when you are adapting something to the screen. Yet, in this case, the book should have mattered. Several key characters are completely changed, several of the “reasons” themselves are mixed up and out of order, Hanna Baker is portrayed as something that was totally different in the book, which absolutely changed the entire point for me.
For those of you that don’t know, 13 Reasons Why is a story about a young girl named Hanna baker who decides to commit suicide. Before doing so she recorded tapes, these tapes listed 13 reasons why she had decided to take her own life. The real main character of the story is Clay Jensen. The story follows him as he listens to the tapes, which have been sent to the titular 13 reasons, each being a person who in Hanna’s eyes had wronged her in some way.
It’s an emotional story, it highlights high-school life in almost perfect light. The drama that these characters go through is actually somehow relatable. But the show, the show takes all of this and tosses it out the window. I’m not discouraging anyone from watching it, check it out for yourself but do know there’s a reason that this show was steeped in controversy.
There are graphic displays of parties, alcohol, sex, and drug use by people portraying teenagers. There is also sensitive subject matter like bullying, rape, and suicide. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea. The decision to display Hanna killing herself is one I will never understand, in the book it was always more of a looming plot point, Hanna had already committed the suicide. They do this for the show too, taking us through the steps that led to her choice, but they also show it. In the book, we know she took an overdose of pills, but we only hear about it a few times, the show went out of its way to display the act (She slits her wrist in the bathtub)
Those are just a few of the things to be wary about when checking out this show.
Despite all of those things pointed out above somehow strangely this show works, for those who are into this type of subject matter the show is clearly a major hit. It now has four seasons, the first is based on the book and the rest is all original material. I will say this, it’s sort of nice to see the characters face the consequences of their actions, the book left us off never knowing if those who hurt Hanna would face the justice system. So even though the next three seasons were all original material as someone who read the book I couldn’t help but be slightly happy as we the show got to go into more detail about what happens after the fallout of such a major event.
So is 13 reasons why worth a watch? Long as you keep in mind that it is controversial, that you will see some things that you perhaps might not have wanted to, and that there are 4 seasons to get through, then yes. I will say without a doubt you should check out this show for yourself, I even recommend the book so you can get a better look into the differences I highlighted above.
Controversy, somehow it works.