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Series ‘13 Reasons Why’ unveils harsh realities of teenage life

June 30, 2017

 

Katherine Langford portrays Hannah Baker, a teen who is driven to suicide after a series of events at her high school. – Netflix

Andrew Bell
Staff Reporter | agb022@latech.edu

 

“13 Reasons Why,” based off of the book with the same title, is an eye-opening, cinematic gem of a series that brings to light the cruel experiences of a suicidal high school teenager and the ramifications of her actions.

 

Socially, the series has ruffled a few feathers due to its somewhat graphic nature. Although there are a few gruesome scenes in the more intense episodes, the overall theme of the story is portrayed in an appropriate manner, for the purpose of spreading awareness about suicide and its causes.

 

The show chronicles the high school experiences of troubled teenager Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford) and what led her to commit suicide. The spotlight follows the perspective of Baker’s high school friend Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette) as he learns that Baker released 13 tapes listing all of the reasons why she committed suicide, involving some of her fellow classmates, shortly before doing so.

 

The director does an impressive job of organizing each episode to explain what each of Baker’s friends did to belong on her tapes.

 

Jensen is one of the final recipients of the tapes, making the informed members suspicious of him and his further actions upon hearing it. This creates a hostile environment for Jensen, as the others wish to keep the tapes a secret, by any means necessary, amidst legal issues with the high school.

 

Cinematically, the biggest challenge was the alternating back and forth from past to present throughout the scenes with and without Hannah Baker. However, the challenge was met with an outstanding contrast between the past and present by portraying a darker and more ominous shaded atmosphere in the present time (without Baker) and a brighter, more vibrant setting in the past (with Baker).

 

To make the flashbacks more obvious to the audience, Jensen receives a cut on his forehead from a biking accident early on in the first episode. Therefore it can easily be determined whether it was past or present by whether or not he has the cut on his head.

 

Brian Yorkey does a good job developing the series, but at times the plot seems a bit forced and repetitive while going through all of the reasons Baker committed suicide. For example, the scene where Zach Dempsey (Ross Butler), an acquaintance of Baker, receives an anonymous note from her, and he chooses not to read it. He instead tosses it away and Baker puts him on one of the tapes for it. It seems a little harsh to accuse someone of playing a part in your suicide for not reading a note.

 

As a whole, the series is a cinematically sound depiction of a culturally relevant issue, with adequate acting and a nice tweak from the book. The narration and unique layout of the episodes provides a generally tasteful and interesting product that is definitely worth a watch.

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