Why Netflix’s ’13 Reasons Why’ Is So Important

In an age of tech-obsessed teenagers, series and films from the last couple of years are doing an outstanding job at highlighting that not everything is so fine and dandy. The release of Netflix’s new series 13 Reasons Why has started a lot of conversation between teenagers and the like. 

Character posters. Photo credit: Spoiler TV

The Netflix series that many have binge watched since its release on March 31 is an adaptation from Jay Asher’s 2007 novel of the same name. To simply sum it up, the story follows a student who is still recovering from losing his closest friend, when he receives a box of tapes with messages she recorded before she committed suicide.

That’s probably the only simple thing about this typical but not so typical show about the high school experience. The audience is taken on a journey where we follow both Clay and Hannah and experience everything they’re feeling. It’s tough. We live through Hannah’s torment and unease; Clay’s indecision and heartbreak.

Dylan Minnette as Clay Jensen. Photo credit: Netflix
Dylan Minnette as Clay Jensen. Photo credit: Netflix

There are seven tapes. Thirteen sides. Almost everyone that Hannah encountered at school gets their own side. It was her plan, all along, to make them feel exactly how they made her feel. In order to find out how Clay fits into everything, he must listen to all of the tapes. By doing so, he reveals some unsightly facts about both Hannah and his classmates. The other ten classmates have all listened to the tapes and take it upon themselves to do everything possible in order to stop the secrets becoming common knowledge.

Unlike most teen shows, there are hardly any filters in 13 Reasons Why. Think of a topic and it’s probably covered at some point in the thirteen episodes. There’s still the normal notions of friendship: making new ones and maintaining old ones. Each episode only runs for around 60 minutes but they’re jam-packed with event after event. By the end, it’s quite normal to feel completely emotionally drained.

Through the exploration of guilt and grief, the audience sees the characters evolve and grow or crumple from the weight of their actions after they’ve listened to the tapes. Hannah’s influence is stronger than ever, and they’re all starting to feel the affects of their actions.

Dylan Minnette as Clay Jensen and Katherine Langford as Hannah Baker. Photo credit: Netflix
Dylan Minnette as Clay Jensen and Katherine Langford as Hannah Baker. Photo credit: Netflix

Executive producer of the Netflix Original, Selena Gomez posted her thoughts about the much needed show on Instagram. She stated that the show represented an authentic story that almost every kid will go through, unless something is done about it immediately.

Though still a newby in the film industry, Katherine Langford (Hannah Baker) shines in the lead role. Once a bright and bubbly character, Langford executed the light being drained out of Hannah as life and society continued to disappoint her. Dylan Minnette (Clay Jensen) played a very different role to that of Langford’s but still managed to portray Clay’s more reserved character. Initially, the rest of the young cast seems to just play the roles of stereotypical high schoolers, but as each episode passes and each tape is heard, the audience learns more and more about their individual emotions. It seems that Hannah wasn’t just the only one to suffer from everything going on in that school.

Miles Heizer as Alex Standall and Dylan Minnette as Clay Jensen. Photo credit: Netflix
Miles Heizer as Alex Standall and Dylan Minnette as Clay Jensen. Photo credit: Netflix

In Australia, suicide rates are their highest levels in ten years and at least half of young people are victims of cyber bullying. Without voices out there to be heard by both younger and older generations, change won’t happen. After seven years of planning by the show’s producers, 13 Reasons Why probably couldn’t have been released at a better time.

Most other shows on popular networks, all around the world, portray high school to be the best time ever, where eventually everyone gets along. 13 Reasons Why goes against the grain and shows that sometimes, things don’t always end up perfectly. Bullying, no matter how big or small, affects everyone in different ways, and the portrayal of Hannah signifies that greatly. The series has an underlying message that we never really know the full extent of someone’s life and how one person’s influence can drive another’s actions.

13 Reasons Why is currently streaming on Netflix. Check out our follow up piece asking if the backlash against 13 Reasons Why is justified here!