“13 Reasons Why” is better than I expected.
I used to chalk it up to being sensitive but now that I’m older, a bigger issue comes to mind and one that the folks over at Netflix – along with original author Jay Asher – addresses in the new binge-worthy series, 13 Reasons Why: the way we treat each other needs to change.
Thanks to the fantastic cinematography, we see both sides of the story – from Hannah’s perspective and what actually happened. The theme of the show allows the 13 people on the tapes to relive their mistakes and to show them what they could have done differently in order to save Hannah’s life. Even though the show isn’t great, it tells a story of something very real and that if we tackle things differently as a society, this could happen less. Now while most cases do not end in the same way as Hannah’s, her story can show people who may not be aware the signs to look for.
Viewers are bound to connect with the show’s protagonist. If just one person had made more of an effort to be kind to Hannah, she might have reached out or not felt as bad.
There was a poster in an episode that I managed to get through that said, “You are not alone“. The story follows Hannah Baker, a high school student facing bullying both online and in person. As he sinks into the water, the Chromatics play “Into the Black”, and the lyrics let us know everything we need “Out of the blue, into the black”. In turn, fans have responded by expressing their love and gratitude in the form of merch, theories, and even nail polish, worn in solidarity with Hannah Baker. Similarly, Selena Gomez, who worked as the show’s executive producer, said that the project was very personal for her after she opened up about her struggle with depression and anxiety largely due to her diagnosis of lupus.
Each chapter tends to get more hard to watch and the last two chapters even have a viewer discretion warning alarming viewers about disturbing scenes. Thankfully, they were able to share some scenes in 13 Reasons Why! Pay attention to the way shadows fall slightly on Hannah’s face and how close those close-ups really are between Bryce, played by Justin Prentice, and Jessica, played by Alisha Boe, because each move made by cinematographers Ivan Strasburg and Andrij Parekh has a strong objective. These, and other instances of sexual assault, revealed some of the problems with things like consent and victim-blaming.
The show also focuses on the way different people cope with such a tragedy and highlights how the guilt effects each of the characters. Will Bryce and the others involved in Hannah’s death face any repercussion? Could its graphic depiction of suicide cause increased suicidal ideation amongst teen viewers, or will it push them to seek help?
You can buy 13 Reasons Why in paperback for $5.43 and is eligible for Prime shipping.
13 Reasons frames shots and matches them with songs, typically early 90s progressive rock, that create textured moments of storytelling.