PLEASE NOTE: This post may contain triggering material. Please read with caution.
I was asked to be part of the Netflix #StreamTeam and share posts each month based on my experience. We are longtime Netflix users and cannot wait to share our experiences with you! All opinions are of course are own!
After hearing some scuttlebutt on social media regarding the newest Netflix original – 13 Reasons Why – I decided to spend part of my weekend diving into the highly talked about series that had just made its debut on Netflix last week. Based on the New York Times Bestseller, Th1rteen R3asons Why, the series produced by Selena Gomez follows the life of Clay Jensen as he listens and reacts to cassette tapes left behind by Hannah Baker – a high school student who has committed suicide – outlining her 13 Reasons Why.
A bit of a diversion from my typical comical fare, 13 Reasons Why is an in-depth, fictional account that sheds light on a growing problem in our society – depression, bullying, suicide and more. The series follows and unlocks complicated relationships, complex storylines, and deep-seated angst that is not easily explained or answered.
With only venturing about halfway through thus far, here are 13 Reasons Why you should make this your next streamed series on Netflix:
- Casting and character development. Within the first show, I was impressed at the casting and just how much the actors and actresses represented their characters on the big screen. Kate Walsh plays an AMAZING mother to Hannah – capturing the full range of emotions that must be felt after experiencing such anguish. Derek Luke is also equally amazing as Mr. Porter – a high school counselor who struggles to find the right place in his role at the school and in the narrative that Hannah unfolds on the tapes.
- Storytelling and plotlines. I have not yet read the book, but the series has inspired me to do so. The storylines are well thought out and intricate while giving you the background needed to further the storyline. Connections, relationships, and interactions all change throughout the series and leaving you second guessing what you thought you knew.
- Mystery. There is nothing quite as good as a good mystery and just as Clay is introduced to new portion of Hannah’s story – we also learn new things about her, the kids at school, and the overall story leading up to her death – twists and turns that always leave you second guessing your conclusions.
- Tony. Where did he come from? Did he really know Hannah? How does he seem to know where Clay is at all times while also challenging him and pushing him to find out the real truth as to what happened in Hannah’s story? His character is mysterious and knowledgeable making him a fantastic draw for the story.
- Young love. There is something uniquely inviting about the romantic tension between Clay and Hannah prior to her death – coming ever so close to connecting, but also seeming so far away. You can feel their connection, but also the heartbreak in wondering what might have been.
- Teenage drama. We have a long history of being drawn in by teen dramas – Pretty Little Liars, Friday Night Lights, and more – teenage conflicts have a way of capturing our attention as if we are outside looking in to something that seems so much more intense than we first thought.
- The Jensen family. Clay seems to have a complicated relationship with his parents as an only child and they struggle to connect with him in a meaningful way. After bonding with his dad over a hangover, he and Clay seem to find some common ground. The family only continues to play a more vital role as Clay’s mom becomes embroiled in a larger issue related to the school and Hannah’s death.
- The war against bullying. The series also sheds light on the darkness of bullying – both virtually and in-person and how oftentimes, even the best of intentions, cannot uncover the darkness that someone may experience on a day-to-day basis. Thus far, we find that Hannah comes from a loving home, with parents who wanted to know her, and worked hard to be part of her life – making the tragedy of bullying all the more real.
- Family (older child) viewing. Although I do not have teenagers myself, I encourage you to watch through the series yourself and determine if this might be appropriate to also watch alongside your teens. Watch, discuss, and use it as a pathway to open a conversation about difficult topics or what they may encounter or see on a day to day basis in their school. I encourage you to make that decision based on what you know about your kids and their mental fortitude.
- Because life can be hard. Although the series and story are a fiction, the storyline weaves in truths that we’ve seen over the years in schools, online, and in society. Truths that can be painful to see and hear acted out on the big screen – and although fiction, they bring to light things that people experience every day. A reminder that life is not always what we envision through rose-colored glasses.
- Six degrees. The interweaving of the storylines reminds us of the fact that the world is sometimes much smaller than we first imagined and our life is a series of actions and reactions – sometimes never knowing how what we do and say might affect someone and reach someone else in another way. As one friend who is a teacher shared, “It gave me perspective on how I interact with my students — will I ever be someone’s reason?” Food for thought. Deep, deep thought.
- Uncovering suicide. It is not often that we address this topic in a way that starts a conversation. Oftentimes, we find ourselves touched by suicide – by someone we love, someone close to us, and this series helps to share a bit behind one person’s decision – adding up that it is much more complicated than a solitary event that leads a person to feel that there is no other solution.
- Conversation. Because despite its fiction category, it has started a conversation. I have seen more friends share what is on their heart, their own past, their own experiences in the past week than I have previously. It is a hard conversation to have, but it is one that we must be willing to talk about. 13 Reasons Why may “just” be a fiction, but it is an avenue to have hard conversations with others and gives us the encouragement we need to dig beyond the surface of those around us.
Even moreso, 13 Reasons Why has started a conversation amongst parents and teens. It is the opportunity to watch the show in tandem and have conversations about what they see, how it affects them, and figure out the cause and effect there. There are DEEP conversations to have and it’s an opportunity to connect in a way about something that is serious, troubling in this day and age, and connect parents with teens in a way that they may not have otherwise felt comfortable doing. It’s an opportunity to start that desperately needed conversation. I HIGHLY recommend watching alongside them or previewing first to determine if this series IS for them! Have you watched with your kids? Or before they did?
I’m eager to finish the tapes – knowing that there is so much more to discover and so many more reasons to uncover.
Have you watched 13 Reasons Why? What do you think of the series so far?
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