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13 Reasons Why

May 21, 2017

So, Young Adult is not one of my go-to genres, be it in books or on screen. 13 Reasons Why was getting so much buzz, though, I had to take it on. I heard about it not only from some of my favorite TV critics, but from sources as unexpected as my HVAC tech.

Upon watching it, the first thing I’ll say is, 13 Reasons Why is pretty good. It’s got rich characters and the exciting mystery story of how a high school girl’s suicide plays out. The details are parceled out through the main character’s listening to tapes the girl left explaining what led to the tragedy. Gimmicky yet clever, just like you might hope.

Along the way there are the obligatory hot takes on what it’s like to be in high school these days, and all its ups and downs. You want parties with beer and hookups? You got it. Jocks ruling the school? It’s in there. Certain kids who are above it all and wise beyond their years? Check. Of course, if this show is anything to go on, high school seems a lot more like it was in 50’s movies and TV shows than it was when I was there. But 13 Reasons pulls it off in the best way. It’s a rather clever and seductive take on suicide and other serious perils of high school life and only occasionally gets too after-school-specially.

There’s certainly the tendency to get rather overdramatic and preachy at times (e.g.: we all did it! we all killed her!), but that’s probably just what high school feels like. This is YA material after all, written primarily to those same high school kids. So I can overlook the excess, and I’ll just take that off in my under-review 1-star-for-YA policy and not dwell on it too much.

In addition to suicide, 13 Reasons does take on bullying, romance, and even sexual assault in relatively subtle ways, while still being a well plotted mystery and having solid characters. Will I remember it at year-end-list time? No, I won’t. But I’m glad I saw what the buzz was about, and I enjoyed my time watching it. A lot of people liked it even more than I did. Hell, you could be one of them.


From → TV

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