I just finished binge-watching the new Netflix series, 13 Reasons Why and it was truly thought-provoking and intensely engaging. Without giving too much away because I hate to ruin a great Netflix binge for anyone, it is the perfect watch for teens and early twenty-somethings and anyone who loves them.
13 Reasons Why, in short, is about the things we do (and don’t do) and how it ripples and effects everyone around us. Contrary to how alone or self-centered life may feel, our choices and our actions (or lack thereof) can mean the difference between life or death.
You see, I do not say this as a judgment. I own the fact and freely admit that in my teens and early twenties, I was one of the most narcissistic, egocentric and selfish people I knew. Of course, I didn’t realize it at the time. At the time, I thought I was great. Only in retrospect do I realize how truly self-absorbed I was. I was kind of an a-hole and honestly, I wouldn’t have been my friend.
But that’s the nature of the beast at that age. We all are this way. We don’t realize it. I was a good kid but my entire perspective shifted only around me. In a lot of ways, I was still a child only I was dealing with adult issues. That’s a hard time in life. I try to keep that in mind with my own children.
Based on the best-selling books by Jay Asher, 13 Reasons Why follows teenager Clay Jensen as he returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker—his classmate and crush—who tragically committed suicide two weeks earlier. On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Will Clay be one of them? If he listens, he’ll find out how he made the list. Through Hannah and Clay’s dual narratives, 13 Reasons Why weaves an intricate and heart-wrenching story of teenage life that will deeply affect viewers.
13 Reasons Why stars Dylan Minnette as Clay Jensen (Goosebumps),Katherine Langford as Hannah Baker, Kate Walsh as Mrs. Baker (Private Practice), Brian D’Arcy James as Mr. Baker (Smash) , Derek Luke as Mr. Porter (Empire), Brandon Flynn as Justin Foley, Justin Prentice as Bryce Walker,Alisha Boe as Jessica Davis, Christian Navarro as Tony Padilla, Miles Heizer as Alex Standall (Parenthood) and Tommy Dorfman as Ryan Shaver.
Everyone left behind is wondering why Hannah killed herself. Her suicide leads to mass speculation because no obvious note was left. But before her death, Hannah recorded seven audio cassettes explaining the 13 reasons why she killed herself; each side of the tape tells a story of how 13 individuals did something or did nothing at all, contributing to her last moment of utter despair and loneliness.
Per Hannah’s last request, the tapes are to be passed on to people until everyone has figured out why she did what she did. By the time the tapes mysteriously appear on Clay’s doorstep, two weeks have passed since Hannah’s suicide.
Clay listens to what is on those tapes to understand why Hannah ended her life but while listening to the tapes, he learns the truth behind what was really happening. He learns that even when you think what you’re doing is insignificant, it could mean everything to someone else. He learns that sometimes culpability is not just about what you did but about what you didn’t do and should have.
Hannah exposes not only her truth but the secrets of her classmates who are, in her mind, responsible for her death. Each tape addresses a specific person who hurt her emotionally and physically. As a result, the students featured on the tapes become afraid for themselves and try to hide their secrets by any means necessary.
It is a fantastic series for parents to watch to remind us to stay in touch and keep checking in on our children, even when nothing seems wrong and a must-see for teens and anyone in their twenties because it reminds them that they are not alone and we all have these moments in our life.
The thing is that if you are lucky enough to survive, you will see that in the grand scheme of your life, a series of small moments are just that. I know when they are compiling, especially on a young mind, they are heavy and all-consuming. But in 20 years, you will barely remember they ever happened.
I think it’s also a great reminder to all that during moments of personal crisis, we need to be able to have someone to turn to; to talk to so we don’t feel so completely alone. Most importantly, it reminds us that our actions directly affect others, whether we want to believe it or not and when we see something happening that doesn’t sit well with us or that we feel we need to speak up about, we need to do what’s right and not just what’s easy because someone’s life may depend on our one second of courage.
I highly recommend that everyone watch this show and that’s saying a lot as I am a Netflix stream team member and watch a lot of shows.