Illustration | Liam Olson

“13 Reasons Why” review


By Liam Olson

The first two episodes of “13 Reasons Why”, “Tape 1, Sides A and B” are a strong and well done start to the story of high schooler Hannah Baker. What makes this show so great is the diverse cast of characters, well thought-out plot, and emotional and convincing acting. “Tape 1, Sides A and B” is so heart wrenching and intriguing, it will keep audiences pressing play to find out each reason why.

The Netflix show “13 Reasons Why” was released on March 31. The show is adapted from the young adult book, “13 Reasons Why” which was written by Jay Asher. The show was created by Brian Yorkey and the first two episodes were directed by Tom McCarthy. Another well-known public figure who had a hand in the making of the show is Selena Gomez as an executive producer.

The show’s engaging and thorough plot is one of the many reasons this show is so great. The show follows along each of Hannah’s reasons for committing suicide, but shows some of them out of order causing some differentiation from the book. Furthermore, while the book only goes into the tapes and each reason why Hannah ended her life, the show expands beyond that. It explains how the characters are reacting to Hannah’s suicide, such as her parents searching for the reasons Hannah ended her life and her friend’s interactions with people who are on the tapes Hannah left behind.

“13 Reasons Why” begins with Hannah’s friend, Clay Jensen, finding a package at his door full of cassette tapes and a map. Clay puts the first cassette tape into his parents’ cassette player and begins to listen. He is shocked to hear the voice of his friend Hannah Baker who ended her own life not long ago. The recording of Hannah tells Clay that the set of tapes contains the 13 people who influenced her decision to take her own life, one side for each person, and that everyone who is on these tapes must listen to all 13 tapes. Not only does each person have to listen to the tapes but they must pass it on to the person after them on the tapes. Also, if one person refuses to pass on the tapes or refuses to listen to them, then a person Hannah entrusted with a second set of the tapes will release them publicly. After hearing the instructions, Clay begins to follow the tapes and find out the answers to why his friend ended her life.

One of the reasons that “13 Reasons Why” is such a powerful show is the fact that it brings awareness to issues such as bullying, suicide, and other issues that are prevalent in the dark side of high school social culture. In the first two episodes alone, the viewer learns that one of Hannah’s classmates cyber bullied her and that one of her close friends betrayed her and isolated Hannah from her peers. This is just the beginning to the bullying that Hannah Baker experienced.

Another reason why the show is so amazing is the wide variety of characters throughout the show. Even though there are many characters within the show, it does an amazing job at introducing each character and gives the audience enough background and time to understand each character. Some of these characters include Hannah Baker’s grieving parents, played by Kate Walsh and Bryan d’Arcy James, Clay’s calm and collected friend Tony, played by Christian Navarro, and popular girl and Hannah’s former friend Jessica played by Alisha Boe.

With so many actors and actresses in the show, all of them gave outstanding performances but it is best to focus on the performances of the actors who play two main characters, Clay and Hannah.

Dylan Minnette does a phenomenal job of bringing Clay Jensen to life. He perfectly captures the lost and confused feelings that Clay has after finding out that he is one of the 13 reasons why Hannah chose to end her life. In one scene, Minnette was able to show the mixed emotions Clay was feeling while he was riding his bike listening to one of Hannah’s tapes.

The one person who by far has an outstanding performance in the show is Katherine Langford as Hannah Baker. Langford marvelously narrates the tapes explaining the tragedy contained in each one. Not only that but she perfectly captures the emotions Hannah feels after being betrayed by her close friend.

“13 Reasons Why”, “Tape 1, Sides A and B” are an amazing start to the tragic and heart wrenching story of Hannah Baker. With outstanding acting, interesting plot, and a wide variety of characters, “13 Reasons Why” will keep audiences wanting to press play to find out each reason.

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