News that Jay Asher’s novel “Thirteen Reasons Why” was being adapted into a Netflix series by Brian Yorkey had many people, myself included, buzzing with anticipation. The day “13 Reasons Why” was released into the world, I loaded up on snacks and made myself comfortable for a binge session.
“13 Reasons Why” is about a high school girl named Hannah Baker who killed herself. Before doing so, she made a series of tapes dedicated to thirteen different people she knows who contributed to her decision to end her life. Once she’s gone, the tapes are sent to each recipient one by one, leaving them to agonize over the role they played in her suicide.
I knew Yorkey was going to take a few liberties with this adaptation, but I kept my fingers crossed that he would stay true to Asher’s original story. Fortunately, all my hoping and finger-crossing paid off because the TV show follows the book remarkably well while also expanding the story, giving the audience many new perspectives to consider.
Throughout the series, we’re introduced to a slew of angsty characters who at first seem like massive jerks, but as I got to know them better, I began to sympathize with them and care about them. The problem is the more attached I became to those characters, the less I liked Hannah Baker. Being privy to the other characters’ sides of the story made me see how self-absorbed and inconsiderate Hannah could be while condemning others for those same crimes.
The premise is dark and emotional, but the show touches on other painful subjects such as alcoholic parents, stalking and rape. However, there is a lot of ambiguity throughout the series. I had a lot of questions about plot, about character intent, about believability—most of which go unanswered. It was confusing and frustrating at times.
Other times, though, the ambiguity is fascinating, like at the end. The last couple episodes get dark and intense and utterly devastating. While a resolution is reached, many questions still linger in the air by the season’s conclusion and there is a gateway for more, potentially larger, tragedies to take place among these characters. I enjoyed the ending a lot and the way the show amps up in the final few episodes takes the series from decent to good. The ending makes me excited and hopeful for a second season.
So far, this show has some wonderful components—the way it deals with tough subjects and some of the characters introduced—but it also has some weaker aspects. I wouldn’t label it the best series Netflix has produced, but I do think it is worth the watch. Granted, as someone who has read the book quite recently, I was less eager to unravel the truths of the tape because I already knew what they were, but even still, I stayed engrossed in the series. I imagine it would be even more addictive for those who don’t know as much. “13 Reasons Why” is thought-provoking, compelling, and extremely hard to break away from even when it’s over.