Amelia’s Spring Break Binge

Heathers. Freaks and Geeks. Mean Girls. These all portray the potential reality that high school can be a cruel and unusual place for a teenager.

13 Reasons Why tells the chilling story of how teenager Clay Jensen receives cassette tapes recorded by his classmate and crush Hannah Baker who committed suicide two weeks earlier. On the tapes, Hannah unfolds the thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life in an emotional audio diary. The show, which premiered on Netflix on March 31, runs for thirteen episodes.

The show, based off of the award winning book by Jay Asher, is directed by Tom McCarthy with Selena Gomez as an executive producer. Many young and up-and-coming actors star in the show, playing Hannah and Clay’s friends, enemies, and classmates. Hannah (Katherine Langford) is a more insightful and lively 17-year-old, so her suicide is a surprise to everyone. Clay (Dylan Minnette) is an awkward kid that always had feelings for Hannah and is searching for the reasons why she took her life.

Each episode revolves around a different individual who had a role in her decision to take her life.They all have listened to the tapes, but Clay hasn’t. He is devastated when he realizes he is on the tapes.

The level of angst through the entire series hits the spot of the psyche of the American teen. The troubles that Hannah went through while describing “her truth” become extremely graphic and aren’t easy to watch. Almost every reason that she gives as to why she committed suicide could have been prevented had more people noticed.

The darkness that enters the lives of Hannah, Clay, and their friends and classmates is constantly interwoven with the natural resilience and questioning optimism of adolescence until harder and sadder qualities creep into their eyes.

Their classmates who are also on the list are brought to life by the young actors Miles Heizer (Alex), Alisha Boe (Jessica), and Christian Navarro (Tony). Each one of them has to face their own demons, and has their own coming-of-age struggle that causes them to act out either recklessly or nobly. The series as a whole advocates for basic human decency within the walls of a small community where anything, and everything is possible. If it falls short in exploring the role of depression in Hannah’s situation, the accompanying 30-minute “Beyond the Reasons” episode makes up some of that ground.

13 Reasons Why will resonate with the high school population that watches this show. The treatment of rape, cruelty and the show’s inciting event are unflinching. It gets into the fine detail about how the after-effects of someone’s suicide can affect an entire population. It may be a tough to watch, but the writers present events worthy of discussion.

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