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Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why” review


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Based on the best-selling novel by Jay Asher of the same name, “13 Reasons Why” follows the story of Clay Jensen in his search to discover the meaning and story behind the mysterious set of cassette tapes that are sent to him by Hannah Baker. Hannah, who was a friend and crush of Clay, sadly committed suicide several weeks prior, and left thirteen stories on the seven tapes that highlighted thirteen people that played a role in her decision to end her own life. Clay must discover who is involved as well as the role that he plays by listening to all of the tapes and following their instructions.

As someone who had recently finished and enjoyed the book, I was excited to see how Netflix would adapt its story into a show. However, after watching the first few episodes, I found myself losing interest because of the numerous characters and plot threads that the show added.  Additions are not a bad thing, but most of these don’t appear to serve much purpose other than to pad the show’s runtime.

It was refreshing for the book to focus on the effects and the emotions involved with suicide, and while the show maintains similar themes, some of the impact is lost because of the issues with the first few episodes. The basic plot of the story survives, but many of the episodes are bogged down by high school clichés such as school dances and excessive teen drama, both of which were mostly absent from the book. Entire episodes can go by with barely any mention of the tapes, and these were a huge plot point in the book.

As the story is told from both Hannah and Clay’s perspectives, it is important for each of them to be relatable and interesting. While Hannah’s story about the reasons and people that left impacts on her life is fairly interesting, Clay’s story is plagued with too many characters who have stories of their own competing for attention and a few too many negative outbursts to make it relatable.

However, there were a few things that I did like. The subplot of Hannah’s parents grieving and trying to deal with the loss of their daughter is done well. Clay’s friend Tony, who knows more about the tapes than him and reassures him throughout the show, is a welcome presence. Though there are a lot of characters, and their names and roles can be confusing at times, they do feel more fleshed out than in the book.

Without spoiling anything, the last few episodes were much stronger than the ones that came before them, and they gave the show the emotionally satisfying resolution that it needed. I just wish that the rest of the show was as strong.

Overall, “13 Reasons Why” is a bit of a mixed bag. When it does follow the book, the show is pretty interesting, particularly toward the end. However, much of the story diverges a bit too much, and there are so many characters that it can be confusing to keep track of all of them. If you are someone who enjoys lots of high school drama, you will probably enjoy all of this show. However, if you are looking for a show with emotional impact and an interesting story throughout, the show has its moments, but they are not as consistent as they could be.

   3 out of 5 Spurs.

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Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why” review