When I first heard 13 Reasons Why was being made into a TV show I was not happy. I read this book in high school and I remember loving it and I just felt like a show wasn’t the right way to tell this story. The novel takes place in the course of a day/night and Clay’s literally just walking around listening to the tapes. Yes, he runs into some people but otherwise it’s mostly just Clay and Hannah’s tapes, which to me didn’t sound like an interesting show.
However, I actually really liked how the show was set up. Each episode was one of Hannah’s reasons why and the show jumped between Clay’s present, where he’s listening to the tapes, and flashbacks to the past where viewers get to see what happened to her. Unlike the novel, Clay takes a much longer time listening to the tapes. Also, the show goes into way more detail about the other characters. Like I said, in the novel it’s mainly just about Clay and Hannah. In the show you get to really know every one on the tapes. You also get to see their parents and the school’s faculty because—surprise!—there’s a lawsuit.
The show adds a lot to the story that was not in the novel, the main thing being that Hannah’s parents are suing the school for their daughter’s suicide. This added another level of drama to the show, which I actually really enjoyed. What’s more is the show goes beyond Clay just listening to the tapes. You get to see a bit of what happens after he’s done and passes along the tapes, which I found interesting.
My biggest issue with the show is that the finale definitely felt like a set up for another season, which I don’t want. I was hoping this would be more like a miniseries and once it got to the end of the book that would be it, but that’s clearly not the case. Moreover, I did not like where most of the characters end up at the end of the season. For me, when I read this novel, it was very much a lesson about how the small things we do and say can really affect people. However, the way the show ends it kind of felt like Hannah’s tapes basically just caused more problems and made things worse for her classmates, which could very well me true but then the story becomes less about what happened to Hannah and more about the affect of her tapes.
Moreover, Clay on the show is a bit different. He makes a lot of decisions on the show that he did not make in the book and I didn’t like them. While I think the way he’s portrayed in the show makes the case for no one really being innocent in Hannah’s death I still didn’t like it. I remember loving Clay in the book and it was unfortunate to see his character changed this way.
Lastly, and I can’t remember if this was said in the book so someone feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, but the show reveals how Hannah killed herself and I personally didn’t think that was essential to the story. Also I was surprised there were no trigger warnings in this show (Note: I watched press screeners, so there may be warnings in the final cut). Not only does the show deal with suicide but it also deals with sexual assault and while I have no experience with either I found these scenes to be incredibly jarring so I can’t imagine what they would feel like for someone who does have experience with them. (Note: If you would like to know the specific episodes this occurs just comment and I’ll let you know.)
Overall though I did enjoy the series. I found it really interesting to get to see all the characters home lives and how their “truth” differed or lined up with Hannah’s. I thought that really added to the story and I also liked that we got to see Hannah’s parents. Though Clay obviously had deep feelings for Hannah, his pain is nothing compared to her parents and I think a big part of discussing suicide is also discussing those who get left behind. The show handled that really well.
13 Reasons Why is now streaming on Netflix. If you’ve already watched, let me know your thoughts about the show below!