13 Reasons Why you should watch Netflix’s new show



Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford) and Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette) met at a movie theater before forming a friendship, and later confusing relationship.

High school student Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette) comes home one day to find a mysterious box outside his door. Its contents? Thirteen casette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford), the girl he loved. Only weeks before, Hannah took her own life.

Written by Jay Asher, 13 Reasons Why was first published as a young adult novel in 2007 and earned the #1 spot on the New York Times best-seller list in 2009. Years later, it was turned into a Netflix original series co-produced by pop star Selena Gomez. The show debuted with a thirteen-episode season on March 31, 2017.

The story follows Clay Jensen as he makes his way through the thirteen recorded tapes, each one detailing a reason for why Hannah committed suicide. Each tape is dedicated to a different classmate whom Hannah blames for her death. The box is passed on from person to person, and when it eventually reaches Clay, we see his flashbacks and reactions alongside Hannah’s narration. We watch him feel helpless over his friend’s death, knowing he can never again talk to her or offer help and support. Feeling powerless and angry, he confronts the people he hears about in the tapes. He becomes a threat to the others, who think he will show the tapes to the principal or the guidance counselor. Meanwhile, Hannah’s parents are filing a lawsuit against the school. The principal only started a suicide awareness campaign when it was too late, and none of the teachers realized that Hannah was being bullied.

The plot line is far from dull, and every episode keeps you in suspense. Who will be the next person on Hannah’s list?

“I watched this show in maybe two days. I kept hoping the next episode would be Clay’s tape, so I just kept going,” said junior Emily Cavallaro. “I was hooked. Every episode would bring a new surprise about a different character.”

But is that an issue? Should the whole series be focused on the characters surrounding Hannah, or more on Hannah herself? This is major point of contention when it comes to the show.

A creator of a show, book, or song that discusses suicidal thoughts always needs to keep its audience in mind. How will this affect those who have thought of committing suicide before? This is where suicide prevention program Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE) finds that 13 Reasons Why has made a grave mistake. Dan Reidenberg, SAVE’s executive director, points out that the show is simply glamorizing Hannah’s death to build a following for the sake of entertainment, rather than delving deeper into Hannah’s thought process. More importantly, the show did not discuss prevention methods to let people know that suicide does not need to be an option. Mental illnesses such as PTSD and depression were never even mentioned in the show. If they had been, the creators could have used the show to spread awareness about how to get help.

“After watching the show, I was scared by how easy it is to miss out on what people are really feeling. You can ask them how they are, but they probably won’t tell you the truth because they don’t want to worry you,” said junior Saige Gitlin. “But nothing can be more important than offering those around you support. I think the show could’ve done a better job at showing that suicide is 100% preventable.”

With suicide ranked as the second leading cause of death for teenagers, it was important for the show to emphasize prevention. However, the first season does teach valuable lessons, particularly regarding forms of bullying. Hannah Baker felt excluded. She was not punched or shoved into lockers, but she felt alone, and the show portrays this throughout each episode.

All in all, the show is worth checking out for its storytelling, but you should remember that Hannah’s actions don’t need to be yours.