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13 Reasons Why You Should Watch 13 Reasons Why

13 Reasons Why is based on the 2007 best-selling book of the same name written by Jay Asher.

The story follows Clay Jensen (Dylan Minette) as he receives Hannah Baker’s (Katherine Langford) suicide note in the form of 13 tapes — or more accurately 7 double sided cassette tapes – each revealing a person as a reason why she killed herself.

I tried my best to keep this spoiler-free. Despite its few shortcomings, here are my 13 reasons why you should watch Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why:

1. It is a captivating high school mystery story

“Hey, it’s Hannah. Hannah Baker. That’s right. Don’t adjust your…whatever device you’re hearing this on. It’s me, live and in stereo. No return engagements, no encore, and this time, absolutely no requests. Get a snack. Settle in. Because I’m about to tell you the story of my life. More specifically, why my life ended. And if you’re listening to this tape you’re one of the reasons why. I’m not saying which tape brings you into the story. But fear not, if you received this lovely little box, your name will pop up. I promise.”

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For mystery buffs, it’s the perfect opening statement to hook viewers in. Why did she kill herself? What dirt is everyone hiding? What did Clay do? The details are revealed little by little with each tape sure to leave viewers wanting more.

2. It plays with viewers’ senses

It takes a while to see the bigger picture due to two factors, but both are effective in adding to the mystery.

First, the story is told in non-linear format. The timeline carefully jumps from present time to flashbacks of Hannah to keep viewers on their toes.

Second, the show drops hints that Hannah can be a bit of an unreliable narrator. It leaves viewers questioning her credibility and motivations. Rather than a weakness, I think it is a testament to the complexity of her character.

After all, it’s her story and the way she tells it reveals her character in as much as it reveals what skeletons a person has to belong in the tapes.

3. The characters are complex

Speaking of characters, unlike the book, they are featured for a one-hour episode each which really fleshed them out. All of them are going through their own problems and dealing with different expectations.

Hannah’s antagonistic point-of-view portrayed side by side with the present time allows the characters to show their motivations, and sometimes the latter is even more interesting than the tape’s contents.

4. It is relatable for people of all ages

Being a former teenager, I am sure the themes and storylines would resonate with a lot of teens. However, it features grown-ups just as much as the kids.

Adults can relate to Hannah’s parents and the community as they deal with and mourn the loss as well as the school officials preoccupied with the repercussions.

More importantly, it reminds adults how it’s like to be a teenager when every little problem seemed like the world.

5. Good cinematography and music

The cinematography and soundtrack went hand-in-hand to set a general indie tone. Visually, the colors were a bit muted and the fashion limited to basics.

Audibly, the scenes were complemented by a great mix of music.

The entire soundtrack is available for streaming on Spotify!

6. It brings awareness to teen suicide

In case you missed it, 13 Reasons Why is about teen suicide and the circumstances surrounding it. Suicide is one of the leading causes of death among young adults around the world.

Although I wish it tackled mental illness more, any platform of discourse is a step in the right direction to confront this giant elephant in the room.

7. It brings awareness to bullying in the 21st century

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “youth who report both bullying others and being bullied (bully-victims) have the highest risk for suicide-related behavior…”

The show veritably depicts how different forms of teen bullying (such as sharing indecent photos, making lewd comments or spreading gossip) are perpetuated in the age of smartphones. It certainly serves as a wake-up call for its viewers.

8. It shows that bullies come in all forms

The subject is not complete without the bully. What I like most about the show is its recognition that anyone can be bullies.

With every tape, Hannah Baker describes people from all walks of life each contributing to the decision of ending her life.

Contrary to what Hollywood normally portrays, jocks wearing letterman jackets are not the only bullies in the world. Even honor students, nerds, nice people and close friends can bully others too.

9. It is not afraid to be bold on sensitive issues

Without spoiling too much, 13 Reasons Why is not short on graphic scenes. This is an effect of producing the show on Netflix, which is not shackled by stringent regulations that other platforms experience.

Some have criticized it for scenes that are gratuitous or too horrifying for viewers. On the contrary, I think those scenes were intentionally made to send a message that suicide, bullying and sexual assault are really ugly and should make us uncomfortable enough to speak out.

Oftentimes these issues are so sensitive that we’d rather not talk about it, while it’s happening right under our noses.

10. It reminds us that it’s different for girls

Hannah Baker’s suicide was largely in part due to being a victim of double standards and gossip. Yes male privilege and double standards still exist in the 21st century.

When a girl sleeps with a guy on the first date, she gets called a slut. Gossip is also more piercing and long-lasting.

Men are clearly privileged of having it easier socially. It is up to us to lessen the load on women.

11. It highlights the importance of a support system

Studies have shown the great benefit of having a support system (ex: family, friends) to quality of life.

Everyone knows it’s nice to have people we trust and be ourselves with. Oftentimes, Hannah Baker was seen actively looking for a friend, but all of them shut her down.

Which leads me to my next reason…

12. It reminds us to be nice

13 Reasons Why reminds us how little jabs can lead to large consequences. Hannah Baker said it best: “when you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re not messing with just that part. Unfortunately, you can’t be that precise and selective. When you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re messing with their entire life.”

Everyone is going through different things. It helps to be more kind and empathic to other people’s feelings. You might even save a life.

13. You don’t wanna miss out!

The entire first season was only released on March 31, 2017, but social media research firm Fizziology ranked it the most popular Netflix original series of all time.

It’s not surprising seeing how much the show pops up in our news feeds everyday. I’m sure your friends have seen it and are dying (no pun intended) to talk to you about it. So what are you waiting for?

There are talks of a second season, so there’s time to catch up. You can watch the entire first season exclusively on Netflix!

Ending Note

Today, September 10, 2017 we are celebrating the World Suicide Prevention Day.

According to the World Health Organization, over 800,000 people die by suicide each year. That means one person every 40 seconds gives up his or her life.

There are different reasons why people do suicide – depression, impulsive, philosophical desire to die, or they’re just crying out for help. Nonetheless, these people have all questioned the value of their own lives.

This year’s World Suicide Prevention Day has the theme “Take a minute, change a life.”

These people who gave up on their lives were once part of our community, but in some ways we failed them. Hence, we should initiate to look out for those people who are possibly struggling on their own, check on them, and encourage them to share whatever’s bothering them.

Take a minute, change a life.

We may not be able to solve all of their problems, but if they realize that at least one person is concerned, is willing to listen, and cares about their well-being, it may create a great impact on them, and it may change their lives.

They say that we don’t realize the things that we have until we lost it. Let’s not wait until we lose those people that are important in our lives. Let’s be proactive in our fight against suicide. P

If you are or you know anyone at risk for suicide and in need of support, you can call the 24/7 suicide prevention hotline at:

(02) 804-4673 (HOPE);
0917-558-4673 (HOPE);
2919 for Globe and TM subscribers

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