Did you like my title?
About 5 months ago I posted a review on a book by author Jay Asher called 13 Reasons Why I was a little vague on details mainly because I wanted the plot and overall meaning to be the key focus. It was my major take away from the book and I wanted that to come through in what I wrote. Also, it had been a while since I read it and wasn’t sure if the things I was remembering actually happened or if they were things I thought should/could happen. I tend to do that when I read books, come up with alternative routes, but that’s besides the point. I am definitely a visual learner and because of that I did like the show better than the book BUT the book hit me harder when it came to Clay’s tape. There’s just something about reading text that makes it more real.
This review will be more in depth simply because I knew I was going to do this post when I first heard about it becoming a Netflix series so I’ve been making mental notes along the way. I’ll talk about 13 key points I loved/ thought we’re executed really well.
So here they are:
1. Clay. He turned his back to Hannah because he got hurt. He didn’t know what it would eventuate to. But when Hannah killed herself and he started to hear the tapes he did everything to bring justice to her. Sometimes it may have been questionable but when it came down to it, it was his last chance to prove his love for Hannah and to show her he did care. I think the biggest thing with Clay was he took Hannah’s suicide as a lesson not just something that happened. In the last scenes we see him reach out to Skye, the prime example of learning from mistakes. He was a beautiful character with great qualities and I loved him more with every episode and loved him for sticking up for Hannah when she no longer could.
2. Hannah. Such a gentle soul. After her best friend moving away and having no one to turn to when shit happened it’s not strange how things ended up as they did. I loved Hannah’s character because it was multi dimensional. She was sarcastic with Clay and Jess, opened up to Ryan, accepting with Courtney and Tony, and so much more. She did what you’d expect suicidal people to do – put up walls – but also reach out for help. Sometimes cryptically, like leaving an anonymous question in class, to clear as water, confessing to Mr. Porter her thoughts and feelings. She was a brave character who held on till the last second.
3. The message. The message remains the same in the book and the series. Don’t leave words unspoken in fear, shout them for the world to hear for the broken to heal. It’s so important to tell people what they mean to you, actions help. But we need to talk to each other. My generation I believe are the most at risk of feeling lonely and suicidal because we’re too busy watching TV, tagging each other in memes, making a snap chat video, the list goes on. It’s ridiculous look up from your phones more often tell people you care for them before it’s too late. It’s an important issue in today’s society, it’s our reality and Clay’s character personified the perseverance we need.
4. The extended story lines. Obviously to turn the book into a show additions needed to be made. In the book there was no court case, no developed background on characters like Jessica, Courtney, Alex, the tapes were listened to quite quickly and pretty much all inside Monet’s, Skye was a familiar face on a bus and not a waiter at the cafe. I enjoyed the extended story line I think it fit almost perfectly. Except for Clay’s mum being the lawyer for the school, I very much disliked that addition because it was going against what Clay knew and deep down I think his mother knew she shouldn’t be taking the case but still did. The extra story lines gave us great insight into all the characters and showed how they each had their insecurities. Unfortunately instead of bonding over those insecurities they were hidden away and each one kept to themselves.
5. The actors. Now I’m not a film critique or anything I just like what I like and thus may differ to you but I think Dylan Minnette (Clay) and Katherine Langford (Hannah) were great choices for the roles. I believed what they said and did. I won’t go into the secondary actors simply because I’ll be here forever but I liked most of them. Special shout out to Katherine though because she’s an Aussie and we have to celebrate Australians doing well overseas. Definitely great casting and I look forward to seeing them in other TV shows and or movies.
6. The music. I love music, you’ll know that by now if you’ve explored my posts. The music here was soft, a little indie and sometimes abruptly honest. These are some of my favourite lines from some of the featured songs. “I can’t love you, I’m too scared to” – More Than Gravity by Colin & Caroline (Episode 1). “Now your mess is mine” – Mess Is Mine by Vance Joy (Episode 1). “I had all and then most of you, some and now none of you” – The Night We Met by Lord Huron (Episode 5). “All I needed was the love you gave, all I needed for another day” – Only You by Selena Gomez (Episode 13). Originally by Yazoo this is one of my all time favourite songs. Although nothing will beat the original I did think Selena’s interpretation for the show was 100% fitting. Matched the slow, somber mood rather than the ‘poppie’ vibe.
7. Elements used to distinguish past and present. The scar Clay receives in the first episode after falling off his bike was the obvious method of differentiating between past and present. And just when you thought the scar was going to heal BAM! Another hit to the same spot. What are the odds? Other than that I did notice in the last episode during the scenes in Mr . Porters office the colour difference between Clay’s present and Hannah’s past. I read a comment on a meme the other day that highlighted this also and got the feeling it was done throughout the show. So essentially Jeff was only shown in the past scenes and you’d be able to tell from the emphasized yellow tones, whilst the present scenes were more blue. Trying to distinguish between past and present was also difficult in the book because you get on a role and you almost have to figure out on your own what is past and present based on the writing style and context of the conversations. So a band aid on Clay’s head was very helpful for the obvious distinction.
8. The potential for more. It was left wide open and questions unanswered. There will definitely be a second season seeing as how well it’s been received. We need to know what happens with the court case, what happens to Alex, where Justin goes, if Bryce is charged, if Clay is honoring Hannah’s memory. We just need answers okay.
9. The decision to not have Selena as the lead. Don’t get me wrong I am a Selena fan. I much prefer her acting to singing but do love her songs. I am however super glad she was not Hannah Baker because I think it would have really deterred from the message and almost maybe glamourised the topic. Using relatively unknown actors was definitely the right choice with this series.
10. The relationship between Hannah and Clay. These two we’re beautiful together. Like I mentioned in my book review they were a beautiful disaster too afraid to show love for each other because they’d have to show their scars. The fun loving friendship that they begin with, that quickly grows, is something many of us wish to have one day. A gentle soul to soothe a worried mind. I loved there interactions at The Crestmont especially. I felt it was there spot, a lot more relaxed then when at school and so they were able to be their true self. In the last episode when Clay says “I cost a girl her life because I was afraid to love her” and Mr. Porter tells him “you can’t love someone back to life” Clay’s response of “you can try” encompassed everything Hannah was trying to say through her tapes. Trying is better than doing nothing, trying shows attempt, attempt shows you care.
11. The relationship between Clay and Tony. Another relationship that was fun and nervy to watch grow. I loved the ‘reality check’ nature of Tony and how he was always there to help Clay. Even though he was given that job of keeping an eye on all the people listening to the tapes, it felt different between these two. They’ve had a true friendship for a while so the looking out for Clay was heightened. As seen when they climbed the mountain and during Clay’s tape. They bounced ideas off each other and I think Tony was really the only person Clay could discuss the tapes with and get an unbiased opinion from.
12. The relationship between Clay and Jeff. This was an interesting one for me because this friendship was not in the book. Jeff was merely the senior who died in the car accident. But this adaptation brought him purpose in the story. He was the good influence on Clay in terms of girls…girl. And Clay was the academic influence on Jeff. I don’t know about you but I love these relationships in movies/shows/books. The odd couple. Heck I love them in real life and can totally relate to being friends with someone outside of your usual friends who is quite opposite to yourself. It makes for interesting conversations and insights. Jeff being the sporty alpha male who was lovable and not an overbearing character was the perfect way to explain Clay’s confidence around Hannah, something that was also missing in the book. Jeff and Clay’s friendship was my favourite out of these and I hated that it ended.
13. Staying true to the book. Now I know I said there were changes but essentially for the most part it stayed true to the book. If things were changed it was to bring credibility to the story. You couldn’t have just Clay sitting in Monet’s for 13 episodes. I liked that they didn’t steer too far away like change the tapes for an online podcast or something because that was a key point Hannah made, we’re obsessed with our devices. It stayed true to the message Jay Asher was sending and at the end of the day that’s the most important thing.
So there they are, my 13 reasons why I loved the Netflix series. Let me know what you loved about it or didn’t. And if you’d like to see a second season.
“I don’t know what I’m supposed to do, haunted by the ghost of you, oh take me back to the night we met”
– Lord Huron