Why We’re Watching 13 Reasons Why

The Netflix adaptation of Jay Asher’s book “13 Reasons Why” has people across the country talking about Hannah Baker. The 13-episode series debuted on March 31.

The show follows the story of Hannah Baker (Katherine Langhorn), a high schooler who commits suicide and leaves behind 13 tapes describing why she took her own life. The tapes are delivered to every individual who is mentioned in the tapes. One tape representing a significant experience involving one of Hannah’s peers.

However, the main plot of  “13 Reasons Why” involves Clay Jensen’s (Dylan Minnette) connection to Hannah’s death. Clay is a very close friend of Hannah’s, though he consistently tells his parents he barely knew her, so he struggles to find out why he was given the tapes.

“I enjoyed watching it and it showed me what’s happening around me,” senior Laura Robusto said.

The show brings sensitive topics to the forefront. Suicide, rape, alcohol use and LGBTQ topics are highlighted frequently throughout the 13 episodes.

“These issues were portrayed in a way that was sensitive to our culture,” Robusto said. “Suicide, bullying, sexual assault and LGTBQ topics are all prevalent in our society and as people who live in the society, we need to understand that this is happening.”

One of the main struggles that Hannah deals with in “13 Reasons Why” is not feeling wanted. From her parents and friends to the school’s administration, Hannah creates this perception that she didn’t matter.

Robusto said that the main thing “13 Reasons Why” tells everyone is to “just reach out”

“Looking at how all these people could have reached out to help Hannah and they didn’t, they blamed themselves for her death,” Robusto said. “It shows you can be that person that reaches out.”

Sophomore Ashley Fisher found the show insightful and took away another lesson.

“I know it brought my awareness to how you say things or treat people can really affect the way they feel and lead to something as tragic as suicide,” Fisher said.

Though the show’s plot focused mainly on Hannah and Clay, one minor character took social media by storm. Jeff Atkins, played by Brandon Larracuente, was a baseball player who just wanted to “play baseball, get his grades up and help Clay,” as described by numerous Twitter posts. Larracuente himself even described his character as “an innocent soul,” according to an interview with Buzzfeed News.

Posts with #JeffDeservedBetter and #13ReasonsWhyJeffDeservedBetter swept across Twitter as fans were left shocked when Jeff’s fate was revealed in the latter part of the series.

“My favorite character had to be Jeff,” Fisher said. “He was the realest character and deserved so much more than what happened to him.”

While the show is seen as a teaching tool to inform society about suicide, it may not be for everyone. Because the show’s main plot revolves around suicide and scenes of sexual assault and rape occur, individuals should be cautious if they’ve gone through similar experiences.

“If you have gone through similar situations, especially involving rape or struggles with suicidal thoughts, this show could be a trigger,” Robusto said.

However, Robusto applauds Netflix for including warning messages on the episodes that feature graphic scenes.

Once viewers finish the emotional rollercoaster that is “13 Reasons Why,” they should then watch “Beyond the Reasons.” This special episode features the cast and crew talking about the issues brought up in the show and the creative decisions that took place when shooting some of the more graphic scenes.

Justin Smith