What's that phrase kids use these days…'I'm shook'? Well dude, I'm feeling very 'shook' after watching Netflix's new series, 13 Reasons Why.
This book adaptation is the story of 17-year-old Hannah Baker and the 13 reasons why she took her own life. That's not a spoiler by the way, it's in the plot summary. What the blurb doesn’t tell you is that it’s an intense and gut-wrenching insight into the high school experience.
We follow Hannah's story over 13 cassettes-made by her before she died, describing the people and events that led to her suicide. There’s a strong emphasis on the ‘retro’ choice of recording equipment, that speaks volumes to the way kids endlessly communicate these days. Each side of the tapes equals an episode, and is a devilishly simple way to keep the audience hanging on for more.
We listen to these tapes through the ears of Clay Jensen, your reassuringly average, slightly disconnected teenager. However, you quickly get the feeling you’re only scratching the surface of his character. Not so much can be said for the rest of the remarkable young cast who each pick up your traditional high school stereotypes and pretty much stick to the formula.
Although, I say stereotype, but I definitely met these people in my own high school life, and so their characters were real enough to make a deep impression.
Hannah’s downward spiral begins with seemingly 'normal' high school dramas. Yet, these whispers in the hallways end up culminating in some of the most difficult television I've ever watched. Some critics have questioned the need for such scenes, but without them this show wouldn’t punch you where it needs to. You feel this show hit you in your gut, it breaks your heart and it made me angry. Angry that teenagers the world over are living similar lives to Hannah and there’s not enough help to stop more stories ending like hers.
Needless to say, 13 Reasons Why is the kind of show that gets under your skin and stays there. It's an important piece of television that shines a harsh light on the fact that high school ain’t easy. It's a place where young adults are trying to figure out who they are, and sometimes, they just aren't nice.
You don’t need 13 reasons to watch this show - just do it.