Time to talk about something important: Netflix’s Thirteen Reasons Why is the MOST important show you’ll watch all year. Here are 13 reasons why.
Way back when, I picked up a little book titled Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher.
The year was 2009 and I was discovering a new interest in young adult fiction after sufficiently devouring the Twilight series. I know, don’t judge me. What can I say? I was Team Edward.
Embarrassing literary adventures aside – Thirteen Reasons Why caught my eye while filing up and down the aisles of my local Borders. This was of course a time when Borders still existed and I spent many Sunday afternoons there catching up on homework and discovering new book titles. The cover and premise were both intriguing and promised mystery – something I LOVE.
Thirteen Reasons Why: Paying it Forward
It only took one evening for me to fly through the book and I immediately passed it on to my friend Ali, instructing her to pass it on to someone else when she was finished and so on. Kind of like a literary game of “paying it forward.”
What was it about this little young adult book that had me declaring it a must-read? Its raw brutal honesty. Its unfaltering way of approaching painful subjects that touch all of our lives…extremely difficult subjects. Its haunting tone and the vivid characters that will stay with you long after you finish reading.
Of course I really don’t want to spoil anything, but if you’re unfamiliar with the story behind Thirteen Reasons Why, let me enlighten you on its chilling premise.
Thirteen Reasons Why Synopsis
Clay Jensen comes home from high school to find a package filled with audio cassettes. Upon listening to these tapes, he realizes they were recorded by Hannah Baker – his crush and a fellow student who committed suicide two weeks before. In each tape, Hannah herself reveals that Clay – along with 12 others – are the reasons why she committed suicide.
Obviously I don’t want to give much away, but the story lifts a veil to the inner lives of Hannah Baker and her peers. Jay Asher rips the band-aid off, exposing raw, honest truths about adolescence, assault, bullying, ignoring the signs of suicide and so many other very important topics. The story shows how actions and words have a ripple effect, in ways you might not expect or truly understand until you step back and look at the big picture.
Thirteen Reasons Why approaches painful subject matter in such a compelling, honest and meaningful way that its guaranteed to be a book you will never forget and likely urge others to read as well.
Book Aside – the TV Show is a MUST
Okay, to say I’ve been waiting YEARS for the book Thirteen Reasons Why to finally become a film or television show is no understatement. The rights for an adaptation were optioned literally YEARS ago – and after 8 long years of anxiously waiting – Hannah Baker’s powerful tale has dropped on Netflix.
Try as I might to pace myself, I managed to fly through the show in 5 days. (And that was with SERIOUS effort to pace myself.) The series has 13 episodes, each introducing a new “reason why” Hannah Baker made the painful decision to end her life and commit suicide.
After finishing the final episode, my jaw was left kind of hanging open and I simply had to put together a post for you here on Dream in Lace to URGE you to watch the show. It’s such a very important story that everyone, no matter your age, should really watch.
And so, I present…my list of 13 reasons why you should ABSOLUTELY watch Thirteen Reasons Why. Are you ready? Because I know I am!
13 Reasons Why You NEED to Watch Thirteen Reasons Why
1. You Won’t Find a More Honest Look at Suicide
It seems in some way, all of us have been touched by suicide at one point in our lives. Many of us in fact lost a peer to suicide in our high school or college years. And yet, while it’s a topic so many of us are connected to – it’s also one we don’t often discuss. Thankfully, Thirteen Reasons Why opens the discussion with genuine heart and perspective.
2. High school is tough, for everyone, and Thirteen Reasons Why REALLY Gets It.
Whether you’re the popular girl, the star athlete, the captain of the debate team, the editor of the high school yearbook, the founder of your student newspaper, the awkward girl, the confused boy, the misguided guidance counselor, or the teacher who just doesn’t know how to help – a high school experience is HARD…for everyone.
3. The Show Flawlessly Transitions from Past to Present
As Hannah Baker plays narrator in her haunting audio cassettes, the viewer is treated to flashbacks of what really happened in Hannah’s world. Hannah left these tapes to tell her story, advising each listener to listen and then pass on to the next person on the list. In addition to the gripping flashbacks, the viewer gets to see the present day repercussions of the tapes on each coming character. The balance between flashbacks is expertly and poignantly done.
4. Because Sexual Assault Touches All of Us
Whether we’re the victim, a witness, a friend/family member, a guidance counselor or the perpetrator – sexual assault has a way of touching all of our lives. Thirteen Reasons Why approaches such an important subject from an unique perspective that will likely have you rethinking your experiences and attitude.
5. The cast is simply STELLAR!
Thirteen Reasons Why features a very large and outstanding cast, including each of the characters that influenced Hannah Baker’s decision to commit suicide…but also their families and teachers. It’s a broad and diverse cast, showcasing some extremely powerful performances from top to bottom. From major characters to more minor, each performance is layered and spot on.
6. It will make you feel things you maybe didn’t know you could feel.
Okay, that sounds a bit like an odd duck reason to watch – but trust me, the writing, structure, tone and performances of the show all perfectly work together to draw you in. By the final episode, I guarantee you will be feeling this show in your gut.
7. The show brilliantly expands on the books.
If you have read the book Thirteen Reasons Why, you might think you know what happens – but the television show actually builds on the story…a lot. In the book, the reader is really only treated to Hannah Baker and Clay Jensen’s perspectives. In the show, however, you the viewer will lift the curtain, revealing that each student and parent is facing their own individual struggle.
8. The Series Copes with the Aftermath of Suicide
Suicide is a painful way to lose someone that comes with more questions than answers, anguish and regret. Thirteen Reasons Why brings an understanding to the complexity of grief, confusion and perhaps even a bit of resentment that comes in the aftermath of suicide. We watch characters not only deal with grief – but the implications and consequences of the painful truths Hannah shares on the audio cassette tapes.
9. Thirteen Reasons Why will make you rethink high school
By opening the lenses to explore the high school experiences of a wide-range of characters, you’ll start to think on your own experience in high school and just might start to see things from a different perspective. Maybe there were signs you missed along the way from peers that maybe needed some help. Maybe you misjudged a student because of rumors you heard. Maybe you’ll start to develop feelings of sorrow for someone who wronged you, because you didn’t understand the full scope of the situation.
10. Twists and Turns
Who doesn’t love a story with twists and turns? As Hannah introduces each new reason, you’ll likely catch yourself a bit surprised now and then. Thirteen Reasons Why plays with the expectations and the stereotypes we all have in our minds…and ties them in knots.
11. There Simply is No Hollywood Ending
One would have to assume that a story that kicks-off with a young girl committing suicide is not likely to have a happy ending. The book doesn’t work that way, the show doesn’t work that way – and certainly, life doesn’t work that way either. SPOILER: There’s no surprise a-ha, “she’s not really dead” moment at the end. There’s no happy kiss with two star-crossed lovers finally getting together.
Thirteen Reasons Why will kick you in the gut and break your heart. It’s a story about real life and real consequences…that you can carry into YOUR real life in hopes of maybe making things a bit better.
12. It’s Simply the BEST Book-to-Television Adaptation, Period.
If you have HBO and read Big Little Lies, you’ll know that series was also extremely well done with a brilliant cast. But, sorry – Thirteen Reasons Why kicks it out of the ballpark. While it’s a story with a lot of grit, it also has a lot of heart. It holds very true to the book – but also opens a whole new world of possibility the book did not touch on.
13. A Likely Second Season You WON’T Want to Miss
When the show was released, I took to it expecting the series to be a one-off. The book didn’t have any sequels. There’s no, okay…surprise…Hannah has 13 more tapes to be heard! Although, Thirteen Reasons Why‘s Netflix series expands greatly on the book content and has more than enough material for a compelling second season. Of course, I won’t go into specifics because I wouldn’t want to spoil anything – but there are real consequences, issues and concerns that the writers left open in the finale…leaving a lot open for discussion in a second season that would touch on another extremely painfully, important topic.
Have you watched or read Thirteen Reasons Why?
At heart, the main reason I wanted to write this post was to get the word out there more about both a book and television story that I urge everyone to watch. There are some stories that are too important to go unheard and Thirteen Reasons Why is absolutely one of them.
If you’ve read the book or seen the show, I’d absolutely LOVE to hear your thoughts! There are so many amazing talking points on the story, it’s hard to even know where to start…but I’m very interested in your reactions.
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