An incredibly engaging mystery, a well-written, well-acted tale of not just high school drama, but a great character study of most of the cast. Give it two episodes, and after that, my guess is that you’ll be addicted enough to watch the rest.
It’s been 10 years since Thirteen Reasons Why first hit bookshelves and became the life-saving bestseller as it’s known. A lot has changed since that time. Not only the author Jay Asher has gone on to write two more books and a graphic novel, but the book itself has finally made its way to a screen, with the much-awaited adaptation becoming Netflix’s latest original series.
When I heard the concept, a girl kills herself and leaves a series of tapes for her high school crush to listen to, I figured that this would just be Netflix trying to hit another target demo, making a show with echoes of Degrassi or Pretty Little Liars or Riverdale for its own audience. What I was not expecting was 13 Reasons Why to be one of the best high school dramas I’ve ever seen.
What caught me off guard the most about 13 Reasons Why was how being on Netflix allowed it to present more of an authentic, uncensored version of high school than anything we see on broadcast networks or cable. Here, kids say “f**k,” and they say it a lot. The bullying is harsh and often obscene. The show gets darker and darker as it goes, culminating in a pair of absolutely brutal scenes, and the heart-wrenching suicide of the lead character, which is not glossed over in the least.
But the real reason 13 Reasons Why works is because of its central mystery, which is the kind of page-turner that is perfect for Netflix binging, and the performances of its young, mostly unknown cast, who all do a great job in their respective roles as the saboteurs of Hannah’s life.
There’s no guarantee 13 Reasons Why will return for a second season, but that doesn’t mean the show would lack material heading into a new batch of episodes.
I think 13 Reasons Why is both a good and important show that I can recommend to everyone, regardless of their genre interests. I was not expecting to be this engaged and moved by what seemed to be some sort of YA adaptation, but the show is much, much more than that, and by the end, it feels like one of the most significant things Netflix has produced in years.