The novel 13 Reasons Why will always have a special place in my heart. It is the only book that I can consistently get teenagers to read. I was worried that when Netflix paired with Selena Gomez to make a series based off of the novel by Jay Asher, that it would have an afternoon-special-kind-of-feel. Luckily, the adaptation wasn’t cheesy. If anything, it was way too real. From the book, I will always remember the awkward hot tub scene and my eternal hatred for Bryce Walker. The Netflix series will be just as memorable, but for 13 different reasons.
Reason #1: It’s Darker Than The Book
Q: What’s darker than a book about teen suicide. A: A Netflix series about teen suicide. The movie takes what is already a tangled plot and makes it even more convoluted and dark. Now, there is a lawsuit, gun violence and more graphic scenes of sexual abuse. 13 Reasons Why, the series, will automatically conjure up a bigger sense of sadness than the book ever did.
Reason #2: Jeff Atkins Deserved Better
I feel strongly about a lot of things in 13 Reasons Why, but the one that I feel the most strongly about is that Jeff Atkins Deserved Better. Jeff’s role is more prominent in the series. He helps Clay find the confidence to talk to Hannah. He is the only person that seems to standup to peer pressure and he has goals! Jeff planned on taking his baseball talents and two big earrings to college. His death had me shook. I literally yelled, “Not Hot Jeff” when it was revealed. Jeff Atkins deserved better, but 13 Reasons reminds us that it is not about what you deserve, it is all about what you are dealt.
Reason #3: The Music
When TV shows deem songs “good” they are usually garbage. “The Night We Met” is the exception that proves the rule. Lord Huron’s ballad will always take me back to the blue-lit gym when Clay and Hannah dance for the first time. The song is haunting. It has the perfect rhythm for a slow dance. The odd cadence of the lyrics when he sings, “I’ve had all and then most of you/Some and now none of you” fits Clay’s situation perfectly. The breakup song will help heartbroken teens heal for years to come.
Reason #4: THOSE BANDAIDS
The only way to differentiate between flashbacks and the present is by using Clay’s ever-changing bandages as a guidepost. At one point, I feared that his sore would ooze like the egg in the Geico commercials. Between Clay’s wounds and Hannah’s haircut, the audience had many identifiers to help them navigate the plot.
Reason #5: WHO LET SHERRI IN? (And other inconsistencies with the novel)
In the book, Sherri is actually named Jenny. For some reason, this change bothers me more than any of the other inconsistencies. At some point during the beginning of the series, I just quit comparing the book to the series. It is its own entity. There were just some things that bothered me more than others. Tyler’s secret weapons stash and the new FML motto were a few of the other changes that were hard to stomach, but renaming Jenny was the most baffling.
Reason #6: Skye looks 30
She’s a 25 year old playing a high school student. Skye is played by Sosie Bacon, the daughter of Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick. It’s weird. Having twenty year olds play high schoolers isn’t anything new, but Skye’s maturity just seems egregious.
Reason #7. Stay Golden Tony-boy
Tony is everywhere. He’s beating people up under bridges. He’s stopping by Clay’s for breakfast. He is at Hannah’s parent’s store. He is a stage five clinger and it’s annoying. I will always remember Tony, looking like an Outsider and fear that he is watching me outside my window right now.
Reason #8. Kate Walsh’s Tears
In case you didn’t know Kate Walsh is the GOAT at crying. Her eyes spent most of the series lined with red, watery smudges. Walsh has also mastered the art of sitting and looking sad. Her training as Dr. Addison Montgomery was exactly what she needed to play the weepy, determined mother of Hannah Baker.
Reason #9: The New Clay Jensen
In the novel, Clay is too good. He is characterized as being the guy that always does the right thing. The series makes an intentional choice to have Clay screw up. Clay loses all of his innocence when he turns on Tyler Down. Also, Clay becomes more assertive when he tapes Bryce’s confession. There is even more of a change from Clay in the beginning of the book to the end. The Netflix Clay seems more believable and real than the paperback version of Clay.
Reason #10: Nail Polish
Blue nail polish will always remind me of Hannah Baker and everything she went through.
Reason #11: This Was A Binging Marathon
Binging a series is meant to be like a light snack. There is nothing light and snackable about 13 Reasons Why. The content is heavy and the story is expanded. At times, it was frustrating to watch Clay floundering about trying to understand what Hannah was going through when he literally had the answers waiting on him in her tapes. Netflix tends to let its creators expand and elaborate, therefore the finished product wasn’t a small bite-sized piece of pop culture to digest.
Reason #12: Hannah’s Bathtub scene
The series made the choice to change the way Hannah kills herself. In the book she “took a bunch of pills.” In the series, viewers actually see her cut herself with a razor taken from her father’s store. The scene is brutal. It made my heart ache for all of the people who struggle with self harm. I’m embarrassed to say how ignorant I was of how violent this act of self-harm is. 13 Reasons gave me a visual that will help me understand the impulses people who self harm have.
Reason #13: 2nd season?
Even though the first season was so long, there are still a few stories that need closure. I look forward to finding out if Bryce goes to jail for his crimes. I want Tyler to get help. I want to know why Justin has to have Vodka to travel. I want Alex to be ok. Usually, I am a big proponent of stories with defined endings, but this might be the exception that proves the rule. Hopefully, in the future, I’ll have 13 more reasons to remember from season two of this memorable show.