The Netflix Original series premiered March 31st and was based on the popular teen novel by Jay Asher. The series follows Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette), as he listens to Hannah Baker’s (Katherine Langford) suicide tapes to discover the 13 reasons why she killed herself.
In order to make it a thirteen-part miniseries, more scenes were added to the present. Such as her parents’ suing the school, getting to see people’s reactions to the tapes, Clay listening to the tapes over a series of days, and Clay trying to create justice for Hannah. While aspects like, her parents suing the school and the people behind the reasons responses, were good and helped draw viewers in, sometimes it caused the episodes to drag. There would be more time spent in the present than on her reason, which caused the episodes to feel slow.
Clay was always a passive character in the book, he did what he was supposed to do and he listened. This Clay is incapable of doing that. He spends more time questioning why people were on the tapes than listening to the tapes to find out. This gets annoying because if he did just listen as Hannah asked many of his questions would have been answered much sooner. Clay’s attempts to get justice for Hannah on the other hand, fit much better into the structure of the miniseries. With Jessica, Sheri, Bryce, and Mr. Porter; what Clay does actually helps, and he isn’t breaking the law or bullying. However, when he goes to get justice from Tyler, what he really does is get revenge, and his actions are deplorable. He becomes the bully Tyler was, which isn’t justice. It just recreates the cycle of violence.
Hannah Baker is an interesting and compelling character because many of the things that happened to her are relatable. Many people have had rumors spread about them in high school, and can relate to the hurt and despair she feels. Hannah’s plea for people to be conscientious of how their actions and words affect those around them is noble, but she doesn’t practice what she preaches. Not saying that all of the characters were unjustly on the tapes, but some of them were. For example, Clay is one of her reasons because he did exactly as she asked and left after she yelled at him several times to leave. She wanted him to ignore her words and stay, but he isn’t a mind reader and had no way of knowing that her words did not reflect what she wanted.
If that’s not convincing, there is Zach. Hannah rips Zach a new one when he tries to tell her he likes her for who she is and not just the stupid list. And while his wording was terrible, and it wouldn’t have made me want to go out with him right then and there, how many guys say things perfectly every time and how many say the dumbest stuff from the kindest place? His reaction to remove her notes is definitely rude, and she was right to confront him. But she didn’t know what was going on with his life, and she wasn’t conscientious of how her words in the cafeteria could impact him.
Overall, I think the message of the show is good, we should be conscientious of how our words or actions might affect somebody; treat others the way you wish to be treated and all that jazz. And all of the episodes are well acted, but the miniseries does have several slow parts, and Clay would be so much better if he just listened to the tapes.
I think if you’re a fan of the books you’ll probably like the miniseries overall like I did (even if it doesn’t sound like it). However, like people, the series is a little flawed.
Creator: Brian Yorkey
Cast: Katherine Langford, Christian Navarro, Dylan Minnette