13 Reasons Why
The show nobody can quit talking about and why it’s important
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“Hey it’s Hannah. Hannah Baker. Don’t adjust your… whatever device you’re hearing this on. It’s me, live and in stereo.”
This is how the story of high school junior Hannah Baker begins. More importantly, it is the beginning of the story of why she died-13 reasons why Hannah Baker committed suicide.
13 Reasons Why, based on the 2007 young adult novel by Jay Asher, is a Netflix original series following the story of the life of Hannah Baker. Released March 31, the series was an immediate success, gaining almost instantaneous recognition and praise among teens and young adults.
The show begins when 17 year-old Clay Jensen receives a mysterious box in the mail. He opens the box, and to his surprise, the box is filled with cassette tapes and a map of the town. Each tape is numbered with royal blue nail polish, one through thirteen. As Clay rushes frantically around his house, trying to find a device to play the tapes, he wonders what the tapes could possibly be. When Clay finally sits down to listen to tape number one, the words that come out of the speakers come from the last person he ever expected to hear from again, Hannah Baker. Hannah Baker, who killed herself just two weeks ago. Hannah explains that there are thirteen people who contributed to her death. Thirteen reasons why she killed herself. She says that if you are listening to the tapes, you are one of the reasons why. Hannah lays out two simple rules for the tape. 1. Listen. 2. Pass the tapes on to whoever comes after you. She warns that if you do not follow the rules, there is a second set of tapes that will be released in a very public manner.
The story follows Clay as he listens to each tape and visits the various locations on Hannah’s map, trying to piece together the mystery of her suicide. This show is woven together like a giant puzzle, each piece fitting together perfectly, but not predictably. As Clay listens to the tapes, he learns about the “real” Hannah, and not the girl he thought he knew. This show deals with difficult issues often overlooked or wrongly portrayed by other young adult shows, such as depression, sexual harassment, rape, party culture, and suicide. The way in which this show handles these issues is brutally honest and at times uncomfortable. This is what makes it unique. This show doesn’t shy away from the painful or sensitive topics.
This show is not only good for entertainment, but it sends an important message to viewers. Watching this show forces you to think about difficult issues, and it opens a doorway for tough conversations that need to be happening between peers, between students and faculty, and between adults and teenagers. Addressing these issues head-on in a candid manner is the only way to get people to truly listen to each other. I would highly recommend this show to anyone, not just teens, because with so many different characters and stories, one is bound to resonate with anyone watching. As you watch, you may find yourself recognizing you or others in the characters or situations. Hopefully, this show can be a gateway to opening up to one another and figuring out how to deal with problems we may face.