Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Binge Watcher Review 13 Reasons Why

Binge Watcher Review for 13 Reasons Why

Creator: Brian Yorkey

Starring: Katherine Langford, Dylan Minnette, Christian Navarro, Justine Prentice, Devin Druid, Miles Heizer, Brandon Flynn, Ross Butler, Derek Luke, Kate Walsh, Alisha Boe, Ajiona Alexus, Brandon Larracuente

Synopsis: Follows teenager Clay Jensen, in his quest to uncover the story behind his classmate and crush, Hannah, and her decision to end her life.

***There will be spoilers!***

Review: I’m going to state this right now, I have not read the book so I will not be comparing or complaining about things that are or are not different between the two. Now, to talk about the show, 13 Reasons Why is a whirlwind of emotions and teenage angst. Over the course of 13 episodes we listen to Hannah’s tapes with Clay as he hears about the events that lead to Hannah committing suicide. Overall the pace of the show is and feels slow, but the pace fit the show well. I constantly found my self getting frustrated at Clay for not listening to the tapes faster, but at the same time it gave you enough time to experience ever event. The frustration didn't stop me though, I kept coming back for more. The longer it went the more I wanted to know what lead to the inevitable ending we all knew was coming.

The basis of the show is about Hannah, a high school student that committed suicide, but before she took her own life she recorded the 13 reasons that lead to her ending it all. Each side of 7 different tapes is dedicated to one person that did something to her that led her to committing suicide. Everyone that has a side must listen to all of the tapes in order and then pass them on to the next person. The series starts with Clay getting the shoebox full of tapes and continues with each episode focusing on one side of each tape. While the show is very much from Clay's perspective, the tapes give a creative way to have Hannah narrate each story from her perspective. Thats what this show is, the events of her life from her perspective. Yes, some episodes seem less "end of the world" than others, but it is high school and that is how teens tend to see things. 

I’m going to go at this by character and who better to start with than Hannah. First and foremost, this poor girl… This series did an excellent job at showing how flawed we are as humans and how much worse high school tends to make everything.  Now I will admit, knowing the outcome that Hannah kills herself gives a different perspective to the show. While watching, it is easy to find yourself asking “Is that why she does it?” For the most of the episodes we experience these events from how Hannah feels they happen. They are her truth. Katherine Langford did an incredible job playing a young vulnerable teenage girl that goes through a lot of life changing situations in a short amount of time. Her chemistry with the other characters is what made the show so emotional. It all had a tendency to feel very real.

Next up, well I’m not even sure what to say for Clay Jensen. I want to sympathize with him, but at the same time, come on man listen to the damn tapes faster!!! There I said it, now that I got that off my chest, I can move on. I’m sure if I was put in this situation I would have my own doubts and hesitations too. Each tape that he listens too opens a new set of questions, not to mention the big question he has “Did I kill Hannah Baker?” Clay was adorable, each episode you want him to come out of his shell and get his moment with Hannah. We also have to wait with Clay, wait for his tape to come, wait to see what all actually happened to Hannah. As each episode passes though, there are moments where Clay gets revenge (or dishing out his own form of justice if you will) on different people for Hannah.  While some of his revenge plots may go a little far, it helps show that no character is perfect in this show not even Clay. 

My two favorite characters in the series are Tony and Jeff. Probably the best term to use to describe Tony in this show is the enforcer. Tony is tasked with making sure everyone that is on the tapes listens.  Tony is like a wild card through out the show. While you can tell that he is committed to making sure everyone listens to the tapes, you can also tell that he really does care about Clay. He is always there watching. Tony is like the guild that keeps Clay on track and also tries to protect him from the other kids that want to make sure Clay keeps his mouth shut. I am very grateful how unique of a character he is. Then there is Jeff. Man I wasn’t ready for that outcome. Jeff was a fellow student that Clay would tutor and in return Jeff would help Clay with girls. Jeff wasn’t a jerk about it though, that was the cool part. He seemed like the only jock that wasn't a total dick. The guy just made you smile. He was the friend that would nudge you in the right direction. Kudos to the writers for how Jeff’s story broke down, because even though there were hints, I did not see that outcome coming. Needless to say, that broke my heart. Also if you want a good laugh, look up the #Jeffdeservedbetter posts. 

I'm going to go through some other characters rather quickly. I'll start with Justin, at the start of the series, I couldn't stand this guy. There were moments where he would do something that would make me hate him less, but mostly the kid was just put in between a rock and a hard place. Tyler, you creepy stalker you, I really want to know how your story ends. There really is just to many unanswered questions, like what did you do with that gun? My theory is there is a reason you took down Alex's photo and then ended up in an ambulance with a gun shot wound at the end of that episode. I don't know just my thought. Most of the girls in the show just seemed like your normal high school students, confused and worried about the wrong things. One exception is Jessica, the subtle hints and changes to the character all make more and more sense as the season continues. Once we learn that Bryce got is hands on her, the down fall of that character all seems to come together. Alisha Boe did an amazing job! 

All of the characters that had tapes had their moment to stand out in their episodes. Some of them you will like and some you will hate. If anyone likes Bryce, we can’t be friends so please just leave.  Don’t pass judgment on all of the characters right away though. As the tapes continue, we get a better perspective and a few of them and why they act the way they do. Life isn’t perfect and this show tends to show you the worst in people.

The things I liked about the show:

·      No one is perfect in this show, not even Hannah. It would have been so easy to make Hannah the innocent girl that had horrible things done to her. Kudos to the writers for giving the audience enough doubt about some things by proving that it didn’t all go down the way Hannah thought.  The show got it right, it was Hannah’s truth, but that doesn’t mean it was the whole truth.
·      No sugar coating anything. This whole series was in your face and brutally honest about what can and does happen to some teenagers.
·      The cause and affect (long term and short term) for people’s actions. Example being the list that was made where Hannah was picked as “best ass.” Which constantly comes back into play through out the season.
·      Parents aren’t perfect and they are just as lost and confused as everyone else. Being a teenager is lonely, but oddly enough parents are the last ones we want to talk to about it. The parent’s perspective was played very well in this show. Kate Walsh made my heart hurt at times.

The things I didn’t like about the show:

·      I find it highly unlikely that these tapes would have been passed on as they were supposed to. While Tony makes a good enforcer, I just find it very unlikely.
·      The biggest thing, how could 11 people listen to those tapes and not one of them called the police on Bryce? Honesty what the F*%&?
·      What the hell is going on with that school staff? I still don’t know how I’m supposed to feel about Mr. Porter. I mean is he a good guy or a bad guy? I don’t know

·      The lack of closure. Yes, a few character stories were wrapped up but the ending sorta felt like blah. It’s like so much time was given at the beginning and then at the end they rushed through everything to just wrap it up. I sorta just found myself thinking, oh its over.

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