13 Reasons Why (2017)

A review by Shlomoh Sherman
May 4, 2017

13 Reasons Why (2017)
Creator: Brian Yorkey
Stars: Dylan Minnette, Katherine Langford, Christian Navarro -
Plot Summary: 13 episodes follow teenager Clay Jensen, in his quest to uncover the story behind his classmate and crush, Hannah, and her decision to end her life.
Plot Keywords: suicide - based on novel - mental illness - depression - narrative
Genres: Drama - Mystery
Certificate: TV-MA
Parents Guide: See below
Country: USA
Language: English
Release Date: March 31 2017 (USA)
Filming Location: Vallejo, California, USA
Company Credits:
Production Co: July Moon Productions, Kicked to the Curb Productions, Anonymous Content
Runtime: 60 min
Color: Color


I normally do not write reviews on TV miniseries. Usually my reviews are on major motion pictures appearing in theaters or on HBO or SHOWTIME movies. But I must say that 13 Reasons Why has absolutely so affected me emotionally that I feel it necessary to make those of you who have not yet seen this devastatingly poignant story of teenage suicide aware that it is a must see for all, especially parents of teenagers.

"Based on the best-selling book by Jay Asher, the film series follows teenager Clay Jensen as he returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers a group of cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, his classmate and crush, who tragically committed suicide two weeks earlier. On tape, Hannah unfolds an emotional audio diary, detailing the thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Through Hannah and Clay's dual narratives, Thirteen Reasons Why weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect viewers."
- Written by reviewer, Studio, on the Internet Movie Data Base.

Teenage bullying is not a new phenomenon. It existed when I was in high school, it existed when my daughter was in high school, and it exists today when my grand-daughter is nearing high scool age. But there is a difference. Something has been lost, and something has been added to amplify the perniciousness, the intensity, the cruelty and the danger.

What has been lost is the idea that bullying has to have a limit. Earlier generations knew and accepted the ideals of decency, ethics and morals inherited from our parents and grandparents in basically stable homes. Today many homes and families are no longer stable. Today, according to statistics which can be found simply on Google, teenagers have fewer friends than we had when we were their age. Today, fewer people adhere to religious faiths that gave our ancestors a firm grounding in right and wrong. Today there is no longer any privacy and there is a general feeling that "anythng goes". This is what has been lost.

What has been added to our society is the Electronic Revolution. While this revolution has radically changed our civilization for the better, it has also created a situation in which almost everyone in our society owns his and her own personal printing press, his and her own personal movie studio, his and her own personal radio and TV station, - all of these encased in a rather small, innocent looking box sitting on our desks or on our laps. Given this, the Electronic Revolution has given us the power to be gods or devils. Sadly, many of us choose the latter.

Before our era, yes, you could bully someone weaker than yourself but that bullying was confined to the schoolyeard or the locker room. It was not broadcast worldwide so to encourage others to then join and participate in your own satanic behavior. and because the episodes of bullying could be kept at a local level, it allowed the victims to grow older and move on with their lives. I was bullied as a teenager but I could avoid it most of the time if I kept out of the bully's way. There is no way for todays' teens to keep out of the way of the cell phone camera or the Facebook post or the Tweet.

The frontal part of the teenage brain is not yet fully developed and so it is more difficult for teens than for us to picure a time when the meanspiritedness and persecution will stop or for teens to open to adults to let us know how they are suffering. Parents sre stymied by the fact that the kids "won't open up." But for teens [as well as for some adults], opening up to an adult is seen as being cowardly [or "pussies"] and confiding in the enemy. [In an earlier time, I think it was couched as "You can't trust anyone over the age of 30".]

The protagonist, Hannah Baker, although she is a lovely and sweet girl, is thrust into an intollerable role as the VICTIM in her senior high school. This comes about as a result of allowing one of the nasty boys in her school to touch her in very intimate ways. As we say today, a photo of the act "goes viral." This particular boy is popular. A quote from the series says, "The most popular kids are the meanest. That's how they become popular." HANNAH is the Hebrew word for "Grace" but the anti-heroine of the series leads an increasingly graceless life.

One of the really negative characteristics of human nature is to put down others in order to put the negative focus on them and remove it ourselves. This has happened between nations, between religions, between races, and certainly in highschool society, between teenagers.

The most sympathetic characters are Hannah, Clay and Tony. Clay and Tony are well-meaning but ultimately they are only teenagers with their own problems and an inability to save Hannah.

Hannah becomes the victim of ever growing abuse. She becomes subjected finally to sexual abuse. Her friends abandon her at the time when she needs them most. The school staff shows itself incompetent to help her. Her one friend, Clay Jensen, who claims to love her, is emotionally incapable of defending or protecting her. When at last, he shows her physical affection, she has already reached the point where she cannot accept it. Her parents are well-meaning but like so many teenagers, she cannot tell them what she is suffering. This however has more to do with her sense of empathy than anything else. They are going through financial difficulties and she does not want to burden them with her own problems. She is truly the ideal, loving daughter who honors and respects them. But in the end, even they are unable to stop her predictable descent into disintegration.

Hannah decides to remove herself from life, from more pain which see sees as ongoing without any hope. She makes 13 tapes, each about a particular person who has failed her, including both students and school staff. It is up to Tony and Clay to distribute them but before all 13 tapes reach their intended recipients, Hannah's parents initiate a law suit against the school for its failure to become aware of Hannah's grief and to prevent her death. Clay's anguish is intensified by the fact that his mother, who is an attorney, has taken on the job of defending the school in the lawsuit. Yet there is nothing he can do about it.

I find that Hannah's choice of using a technologically outmoded form of recording, audio-tapes, interesting. What were the writers thinking? Audio tapes were in vogue before the Electronic Revolution. Are the tapes some iconic way of taking us back to a more innocent age? What do you think?

This is a must watch series for everyone although I am issuing a warning. The scenes of rape and suicide are disturbingly graphic. They are unnerving. There are notices beginning several episodes telling the viewer that what follows may not be appropriate for minors. My personal opinion is that minors are able to handle more than we give them credit for. But parents and guardians might want to view these episodes first before deciding if their minors can see them.

Although most reviews are favorable, there are dissenting voices. One such can be found at https://www.buzzfeed.com/jennaguillaume/experts-warn-13-reasons-why-puts-teens-at-risk?utm_term=.jo4rLAxEl#.lqLjgYRdo [Why People Are Saying "13 Reasons Why" Is A Dangerous Show]. I'm sure you will be able to find both favorable and unfavorable reviews on your own.

See all user reviews on the Internet Movie Data Base

Finally, I usually offer KUDOS to actors and writers in my reviews. But here, they would just go on and on because all the young actors are outstanding. You can see their own perspectives on the series and on the roles that they played here:
Actors behind the instant cult classic discuss the messages of which they aimed to get across.

My one exception to the above is to acknowledge the beautiful, young British actress, Katherine Langford, who plays Hannah. Some of the scenes must have been emotionally difficult for her but she has acquitted herself admirably. I look forward to seeing more of her in future films.

I will be interested in hearing input from you on this series. You can email me at kingsolnew@yahoo.com

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13 Reasons Why (2017) on IMDb

Did You Know?

Wilson Cruz (Dennis Vasquez) played Ricky, one of the lead characters in another ground breaking teenage drama 'My So-Called Life'. Coincidentally Ricky's last name was also Vasquez.
Justin Prentice (Bryce) plays another high school jock/bully named Bryce in the TV series 'Those Who Can't'. Additionally, he played another jock/bully in "Glee".
Tony's cross tattoo on his wrist contains a semi colon which is the symbol for depression and suicide awareness.
On the "Thirteen Reasons Why" book website, you can listen to the entire series of recorded tapes. They're quite eerie, but they play out in an interesting (and spoiler-filled!) way.
Jay Asher was inspired to write the book when a family member tried to commit suicide. Some of the events that happen to Hannah are events that happened to teen girls in real life. He interviewed his wife and female colleagues for things that were hard or things they have never gotten over.
Shooting was so difficult, they had therapy dogs visit the set. The series covers many heavy issues, including depression, suicide, and sexual assault, to name a few, so naturally the stars would need cheering up every once in awhile. "I know there was one scene, I wasn't around, but they had therapy dogs on set. There was a puppy per hour," Minnette recalled in a recent interview.
Jay Asher originally wanted to title the book "Baker's Dozen: The Autobiography of Hannah Baker". "A baker's dozen" is one more than a normal dozen, also known as 13.
After reading the book the series is based on, Selena Gomez, along with her mother Mandy Teefey and producer Kristel Laiblin, brought the book to producing company Anonymous Content for a screen adaptation. Gomez was previously attached to star in the project back in 2012 when it was still set up as a film at Universal.
Scenes that take place prior to Hannah's suicide tend to have a warm color palette; those that occur after are cooler in tone.
Reportedly, Katherine Langford got cast for the role of Hannah through a Skype audition
Neither Katherine Langford or Dylan Minette had read the book Thirteen Reasons Why before being cast to star in the series. Langford read it in between being cast and filming, but Minette didn't want to confuse the character in the book with the character in the show, so he didn't read it.
Many of the cast members met with specialists and psychologists to learn and understand their characters situations.
Kate Walsh did a lot of prep to get into her role. The Grey's Anatomy vet tried to make her performance as Hannah Baker's mother as honorable as she could. "I spoke to two parents that had a child that died by suicide and I spoke to a psychiatrist, who deals with family therapists, but particularly with families that lost someone in the family to suicide," she told E! News.
The character Skye is played by Sosie Bacon, who is the daughter of actor Kevin Bacon and actress Kyra Sedgwick.
The reason Clay had the scar on his head was so you could know whether we were seeing the past or the present.
The character of Skye is a amalgamation of two people from the novel, a friend of Clay's named Skye, who is a social outcast, and an unnamed Coffee house waitress, who knows Clay but Clay does not remember.
Alex has a Joy Division poster on his wall, whose lead singer died by suicide.
The nail polish Hannah is wearing the day she dies and uses to write on the tapes is Sinful Colors Endless Blue.
The post punk band Joy Division is featured throughout the series such as in the tape Tony plays in his car and the poster on Alex's bedroom wall. The bands lyrical themes include that of self loathing and coming to terms with death, culminating in the real life suicide of frontman Ian Curtis on May 18, 1980 at the age of 23.
Brandon Flynn (Justin) and Miles Heizer (Alex) were rumored to be dating in real life, but later it was confirmed they are only very good friends.
The New Zealand Office of Film and Literature Classification created a new certificate (rating) of RP18 (restricted to persons under 18 unless accompanied by an adult 18 years or over) specifically for the series.
Christian Navarro had to learn to drive and get his license before filming started to be able to drive the red Ford Mustang seen in the series.
Alisha Boe, Ross Butler and Henry Zaga, all had cameos on MTV's Teen Wolf
Every time Clay is thinking of Hannah and there is a flashback the scene is brighter than in regular time in the show this has been done to signify that she is the light of the show and when she is not on camera the scene is a lot darker signifying the unhappiness that's in the scene.
This is the second project Dylan Minnete has done where his love interest is named Hannah. The other one is Goosebumps (2015).
In episode 01 Tony plays a song "Love Will Tear Us Apart" by Joy Division. The main singer, Ian Curtis, also committed suicide.
This is the second time that Dylan Minnette plays a character called Clay. He had previously played a character of the same first name in the TV Drama Series's Saving Grace.
The book which the series is based on focuses almost solely on Clay's personal experience listening to the tapes, and his feelings about what he hears. He does not seek revenge on the students Hannah blames for her suicide, and there is no lawsuit, or full storyline about the Baker family. Also, he only realizes Tony is the one who has the other set of tapes when he, Clay, is going to stop listening before hearing his own, and Tony intervenes, exposing himself, in order to get him to keep listening; it does not occur near the start of the story, like in the series; it's a surprise reveal.
When talking to Clay, Alex says that he listened to the tapes all in one night. In the book that is how long it takes Clay to listen to the tapes.
In the book, Hannah commits suicide by overdosing on pills. In the show, she gets into a full tub, fully clothed, slits her wrists, and bleeds to death. The crew filmed it like this to send a clear message about suicide prevention.
At the beginning of the series when Clay is first listening to the tapes, Mr Porter asks what he's listening to. His reply is 'Ultravox'. In the last episode when Hannah leaves Mr Porter's office, Vienna by Ultravox is played.
In the book Clay listens to the tapes all in one night, instead of over a series of days like the show portrays
While confronting Bryce, Clay has a T-shirt that says "Hero" in allusion to his role in the story.
The order of the tapes is slightly different in the book. Alex is #2 and Jessica is #3, they are the reverse on the show. Clay is #9 (11 on the show), followed by Justin #10 (9 on the show) and Jenny Kurtz #11 (10 on the show and the character's name was changed to Sheri Holland). Most of the story points are the same with the exception of Courtney Crimsen, who's story is completely different from the novel.
The character of Jeffrey, the senior Clay tutors, does not appear in the novel. In the novel, the senior involved in the car crash during Sheri's tape (Jenny in the novel) is unnamed and has no past friendship with Clay.
Kate Walsh who plays Hannah's mother was married to Patrick Dempsey's character on Grey's Anatomy. Zachary Dempsey is a character who gets a tape in 13 Reasons Why

Popular Music from 13 Reasons Why - Can be downloaded on iTunes and Spotify

The Night We MetLord Huron7934.1k Clay has a nightmare about the dance; Clay sees Hannah in the gym; Clay and Hannah dance before Montgomery confronts Hannah. s01e05 - Tape 3, Side A
Mess Is MineVance Joy5931.8k Clay sees Justin leaving the counselor's office and thinks he sees Hannah in the crowd. s01e01 - Pilot
Game of SurvivalRuelle2833.3k Song from the Official Trailer for '13 Reasons Why'. s01e01 - Pilot
Run Boy RunWoodkid2422.7k Tony passes Clay in his car; Clay sees Tony meet Hannah's mom. s01e02 - Tape 1, Side B
Love Will Tear Us ApartJoy Division2326.3k Clay gets a ride home with Tony. s01e01 - Pilot
AmusedHUNGER2021.8k Hannah dancing with Courtney s01e05 - Tape 3, Side A
Young & UnafraidThe Moth & The Flame2028.7k Clays goes to school after spending the night listening to Side A; Justin shows his friends the picture of Hannah at the park. s01e01 - Pilot
Doing It to DeathThe Kills1622.5k Jessica leaves after asking about Justin's whereabouts; Hannah continues to talk about the butterfly effect. s01e03 - Tape 2, Side A
Only YouSelena Gomez & Drew Seeley139k After Clay talks to Mr.Porter s01e13 - Tape 7, Side A
The Great LongingLost Under Heaven1317.8k "You want to believe there are good guys in this world" s01e06 - Tape 3, Side B

Parents Guide:
Netflix Adds ‘Warning Card’ to ’13 Reasons Why’ After Criticism 1 May 2017 1:49 PM, -05:00 - The Wrap
‘13 Reasons Why’: Canadian Schools Ban All Talk, Issue Warnings About Netflix Series 28 April 2017 6:09 PM, -05:00 - Variety - TV News
See all 18 related articles on the IMDB

Sex & Nudity:
Making out, gay themes, sex, rape, showers depicted. A few shots of male and female butts. No frontal or full nudity.
Sexual dialogue in most every episode of the first season about losing their virginity, sexual performance, promiscuity and sexual reputations.
Episode 01: A teenage couple makes out. In another scene shows the same couple making out, the boy sticks his hand up the girl's skirt and they begin to have sex in a park.
Episode 02: A teenage couple is shown making out and taking their shirts off. A boy is shown in a shower and in another shot a girl is shown in a bathtub, only bare shoulders and arms.
Episode 03: Boys are seen changing in a locker room, a boy is shown completely nude from behind. A couple begins to make out and the boy lifts the girls skirt to grab her buttocks which is partly shown. A boy comes up behind a girl and grabs her buttocks, the camera focuses on this action.
Episode 04: A picture is shown of one teenage girl kissing another in a bra. Later this scene is shown in greater detail, one teenager is shown taking off her bra, the other shown taking off her shirt and they make out until they are interrupted. A boy is shown masturbating. A close up picture of a teenage boy totally nude is shown from behind.
Episode 05: Couple of boys show their butts in a mocking manner.
Episode 08: A teenage couple is briefly shown having sex but they stop. Brief nudity.
Episode 09: This episode deals with the matter of rape, a girl witnesses rape while hiding in a closet but the camera is from the witness's perspective, blocking nudity with blinds, with quick cuts to the victim's drunk perspective. There is no graphic nudity, only buttocks were shown.
Episode 11: A boy tells the girl that she had been raped along with various other mentions of rape scattered throughout the episode. A boy and a girl start kissing and undressing, but they stop.
Episode 12: A girl is anally raped without consent with cuts to a boy asking questions about rape, this scene is around 10 minutes long towards the end of the episode. The scene of rape is long and disturbing yet nothing is shown, just thrusting and the victim's facial expression. This is significantly longer than episode 09, More conversations involving rape and calling someone a rapist.

Violence & Gore:
Episode 01: Two teen boys fight in the front yard of a party. A teen boy hits a car and gets injured in the forehead.
Episode 02: A teenage girl slaps her best friend.
Episode 03: Boys are shown playing a violent video game, two boys get into a physical fight with one another.
Episode 04: A woman is brielfy shown strangling a teen boy, but it's just his imagination.
Episode 05: stains with blood and she has her wrists cut. This is graphic but brief, and it's only a dream.
Episode 06: Two teenage boys have a fight. This scene is violent and quite long. One of the boys ends up very injured.
Episode 07: A teen boy hits another teen boy, but it's just imagination. Hannah is shown death in a pool of blood with her wrists cut, but it's only imagination. This is graphic but brief.
Episode 09: A teenage girl is raped by a teenage boy. This is shown two times and is hard to watch. A boy hits a bicycle and gets injured, but the actual injury is not shown.
Episode 10: A teenage boy is shown dead injured and with lots of blood after a car accident. This is quite graphic.
Episode 11: A teenage girl has cuts in her wrist. This is shown twice: the first time is shown briefly and the second time another character shows her wrist. A girl slaps a boy.
Episode 12: One of the main characters gets raped. This scene is very hard to watch. The main protagonist is hit by another boy. He ends up with injuries and blood in his face.
Episode 13: Hannah's suicide is extremely graphic. A large amount of blood is shown as she slits her wrists with a razor blade. This scene is very emotional and hard to watch. Another character is briefly mentioned about However he remains alive.

A lot of cursing and derogatory terms used throughout the season. Slut, whore, referring to someone as 'easy', bitch, shit, fuck.

Episode 01: Teenagers are shown drinking at a party.
Episode 03: Guys are shown challenging eachother to drink.
Episode 04: A boy is shown getting high.
Episode 08: Weed is confiscated at school,
Episode 12: A boy asks to buy some weed at another boy's house, a party happens involving beer and other alcohol substances.
Episode 13: A boy buys an underage boy alcohol.

Frightening/Intense Scenes:
The issue of rape is dealt with a lot in the last 4 episodes, once discovered in episode 9 with can stress some viewers. The issue is not dealt lightly and it is not presented in a rather daunting way.
Hannah's suicide scene lasts for a few minutes. There is a lot of blood and is the most graphic, painful scene of the series so far. It may be triggering or upsetting to viewers who have dealt with Hannah's situation.
A boy is also seen by the audience with a hidden collection of weaponry.

Suggested MPAA rating: R for disturbing material involving sexual assaults and a graphic scene of suicide, language throughout, sexuality, drinking, and drug use - all involving teens

"13 Reasons Why" Episodes

Episode 13 - Tape 7, Side A http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5174280/
Episode 11 - Tape 6, Side A http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5174272/
Episode 12 - Tape 6, Side B http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5174274/
Episode 9 - Tape 5, Side A http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5174266/
Episode 10 - Tape 5, Side B http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5174270/
Episode 7 - Tape 4, Side A http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5174262/
Episode 1 - Tape 1, Side A http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5174246/
Episode 5 - Tape 3, Side A http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5174254/
Episode 8 - Tape 4, Side B http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5174264/
Episode 4 - Tape 2, Side B http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5174252/
Episode 6 - Tape 3, Side B http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5174260/
Episode 2 - Tape 1, Side B http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5174248/
Episode 3 - Tape 2, Side A http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5174250/

Series cast summary:
Dylan Minnette ... Clay Jensen
Katherine Langford ... Hannah Baker
Christian Navarro ... Tony Padilla
Alisha Boe ... Jessica Davis
Brandon Flynn ... Justin Foley
Justin Prentice ... Bryce Walker
Miles Heizer ... Alex Standall
Ross Butler ... Zach Dempsey
Devin Druid ... Tyler Down
Amy Hargreaves ... Lainie Jensen
Derek Luke ... Kevin Porter
Kate Walsh ... Olivia Baker
Steven Silver ... Marcus Cole
Michele Selene Ang ... Courtney Crimsen
Brian d'Arcy James ... Andy Baker
Josh Hamilton ... Matt Jensen
Ajiona Alexus ... Sheri Holland
Bryan Box ... Jamie Garrison
Tommy Dorfman ... Ryan Shaver
Bryan Irwin Thompson ... Jock
Sosie Bacon ... Skye Miller
Timothy Granaderos ... Montgomery
Steven Weber ... Principal Gary Bolan
Keiko Agena ... Pam Bradley
Brandon Larracuente ... Jeff Atkins

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