Original Title: 13 Reasons Why
Creator: Brian Yorkey
Release Date: 2017
Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford) killed herself and left tapes to fuck with some people. Now Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette), the only person who actually cared about her besides her family, listen to the tapes while trying to cope with her death.
After watching the last episode, I originally liked the series as a whole, but upon further reflection, I grew to dislike it more and more. Within the review, I will explain it better.
The reason I became interested in watching “13 Reasons Why” was the publicity, straight up.
I am not much of a social media person, but I was a little more active on Facebook than I am now, and I used to follow some pages related to psychology. The said pages posted articles here and there talking about the series, usually not in a very good light.
There were ads everywhere, Instagram, YouTube, you name it, and what was not paid ads were people talking about it, saying it was great and etcetera, but I got curious, especially for the so talked scene where Hannah slit her wrists.
I had the impression that “13 Reasons Why” was some melodramatic teen drama full of stereotypes. And I was right, which is not necessarily a bad thing, it could be all those things and be very well executed and effective.
That’s exactly what I will examine next.
A Rant about Music
At the time I watched, I had many notes from each episode. Now, most notes don’t make any sense, because I was way too succinct and used only key-words. However, one thing is clear: I hated the music.
The taste in music is something subjective, and it is hard to bash on something for having what I consider shit music. In the particular case of “13 Reasons Why”, even when is some band I like (for example Joy Division), they use the most famous song (for example Love Will Tear Us Apart).
(Here goes a full Joy Division album for anyone interested)
That is a sin that is not only present in “13 Reasons Why” but in most mainstream media and I am very tired of it. It’s like going to a tribute to a famous band that you are a longtime fan of, but they only play the old cliché songs, but not some great songs that are less known. Feels like something is missing.
That is not the only problem I had with the music. A lot of it seems to be some stereotypical teen romance music and I hate it with all the strength of my life.
I decided to talk about it before everything else because I cannot fault the series for my taste and opinions about music, however, I think it is worthy of note. Now I can get back to the others aspects.
The Actual Review
To be honest, this show brings a lot of emotion. The two protagonist are likable and the misfortune that hit their lives make you feel for them, especially in such a delicate theme as suicide.
Their characters do not always make the most of sense with the reality, but it is nothing that gets distracting to the point of bothering.
I like a good part of the crew, as usual. In addition to the two protagonists, we have Amy Hargreaves (from Super Dark Times) as Clay’s MILF and Josh Hamilton (Dark Skies, Frances Ha) to complete Clay’s progenitors, and both do a great job.
Hannah’s parents are also good. Brian d’Arcy James (Spotlight) is her father and Kate Walsh (The Perks of Being a Wallflower) is her mother, and I’m glad I watched the Fargo series only after “13 Reasons Why” because that is the image I have of Kate Walsh in my head now.
One thing most people criticized and I disagree with, is saying that the show “glamourize suicide”. Just because she was a nice character and committed suicide, it is not glamourizing her act.
Nice people commit suicide, and that’s one of the reasons we feel so terrible about it. If only disgusting people committed suicide, no one would try to prevent it, we would encourage it.
We have a point that got good and bad aspects to it and that is the wise Latinos, Christian Navarro and Brandon Larracuente (Bright). They are likable characters, the actors portray them well and in they offered a lot for the series, but they are impossible.
They are too wise for their age. They have good bits of advice, minimal flaws, have a good heart, the list goes on. No one is like that, especially at 17-18 years of age.
Unfortunately, it is not all good. I do not like to talk shit about the acting, but Miles Heizer is bad. I never saw anything from him but “13 Reasons Why”, so I don’t know if he was supposed to act like he has no emotion and no facial expression or if that is his actual acting.
I think everyone in the world talked about this, but the way to show what is past and what is present is awful. A fucking wound. Past equal “no wound”, present equal Clay have a big fucking wound on his forehead. A wound that would be better if done by some 14-year-old, self-taught, SFX enthusiast.
The last thing I will talk about before the spoiler part is the number of episodes, they made It 13 episodes to fit the 13 tapes. There is no material enough for 13 episodes, so they buy their time with lots of fillers.
Anyone receiving such a thing would binge-listen to it in one night, not stall and listen slowly with the patience of a monk.
This part of the review will contain spoilers.
Beginning with: Her suicide is not believable.
Someone could say “I hope YOU get constantly bullied, harassed and then raped and we’ll see if suicide is believable or not!”, and I would agree if it were not for the over-elaboration and overplanning of the suicide.
I recently read an article arguing about the reasons why Hannah committed suicide. We cannot ignore how damaging were the experiences Hannah went through and have to acknowledge that many people around the world experience the same.
Each person has your own way to react and endure the experiences in their lives. We are not the ones to judge if the reason why someone committed suicide is enough or not since it was not enough for the one who did it.
I don’t think it is believable in the slightest the way it was done. Recording 13 tapes, delivering the two copies to someone (Tony) and expecting this person does exactly as she planned.
Why Tony did not go to her parents since he didn’t trust the cops?! Why everyone gives little tips to Clay that what is in his tape is so bad when it is actually acknowledging he was the only one who cared for her and the reason why she rejected him?!
We could go on for a long time pointing these things, and I do not think it is “cherry picking” because most of it was elemental plot points done poorly, but I think I should talk about one in particular.
I would like to tell about something I witnessed but cannot disclose too much about it because of ethical reasons.
Once, I was in a multidisciplinary meeting discussing topics and while talking about a specific case, a female psychologist said the phrase “if she didn’t want to have kids, why didn’t close the legs?!” I was shocked.
I was shocked because was my first day with her as my supervisor and shocked because, we might expect that type of disgusting common sense from a middle-aged man in a dirty pub, but she was a professional and a woman, and I would expect a little more professionalism and empathy from her.
The type of professionalism and empathy we expect, for example, from a school counselor when a teenage student comes asking for help regarding a certain rape.
What we would not expect from a school counselor? He tries to dismiss her claims by asking if she made something and then regretted it, in other words, putting the fault on her.
Like lots of others, maybe even someone reading my review, I had people in my life that ended up committing suicide, even more than one. It’s something that affects us very deeply and got us thinking “what ifs” that lead us nowhere.
Eventually, we have to come to terms with the fact that mental health issues are no one’s fault. It is not ours and it is not of the person affected by those problems. When you are the one affected by mental health issues, you have look for professional help.
That is the great intention and nobility of “13 Reasons Why”. Raising the theme of suicide for discussion and awareness. However, like The Mechanism, nobility alone does not make a show (or movie) good.
“13 Reasons Why” is not as bad as “The Mechanism” though. It has its great intentions, transmit emotion, great acting but some bad acting as well and many fundamental inconsistencies, making me give the rate of 6 Moons.
See you next time.