I binged watched this show in two days and it left a bad taste in my mouth. Save yourself the trouble and read this instead. Like any good review/commentary, spoilers ahead.
1. 13 Reasons Why is Liberty High; covering their bases in an attempt to look like they care.
2. It banks heavily off nostalgia. I never read the book during my teen years. I picked it up a couple of times when Borders still existed. I’m glad I never did. I’d be frantically looking for redeeming qualities in the show or blindly defending it.
3. There was lost potential in discussing Courtney’s intense internalized homophobia. The reasons she gives Clay of hiding despite having gay dads is valid, but she doesn’t grow beyond this. It isn’t credible behavior.
4. A great chance to explore the unreliable narrator completely squandered. It’s brought up a couple of times that Hannah lied, but the conclusion is that it was all true. Except that it’s not. Zack clearly proved her a liar when showing Clay the unwrinkled note. This destroys Hannah’s credibility and leaves some huge gaps in the plot.
5. Clay is a White Male Hero who takes it upon himself to avenge his pride and validate his emotions by making Hannah the face of his crusade. The show is about his pain and angst and framing it so makes Hannah unsympathetic and shady at best and an attention-seeking manipulator at worst.
6. Brings up killing rapists. Doesn’t follow through.
7. Clay and Hannah feel too much like John Green protagonists. My hatred for John Green is another post entirely as is who influenced who, but they’re arrogant and think everyone’s actions is their responsibility.
8. It’s an incredibly narrow view of suicide. That everyone else is to blame. This is the base of Clay’s crusade and it’s incredibly disrespectful. Yes, we could all stand to be more humane but Clay takes away the last ounce of control Hannah had over her life. He’s appropriating her suffering to opt out of his shittiness.
9. And on Clay’s shittiness, he’s a violent bystander who thinks his biggest failure to Hannah was obeying her wishes. He was complicit in her slut shaming. He was righteous to the very end. That’s why he couldn’t handle listening to the tapes all at once like a normal goddamn human being. He had to share the crux, the guilt, the redemption.
10. Racially and sexual identity diverse characters. Not discussed how this impacts differently each of their experiences in high school. Diversity is more than a quota, it’s discussing marginalized groups experiences.
11. Based on a book written by a man about a girl. Just don’t.
12. Clay gets his happy ending with an improved Hannah (Skye) who’s strong enough to not commit suicide while everyone is left to deal with his wreckage and the inevitable school shooting of season two (see Tyler’s trunk of guns). Yikes.
13. Bryce the rapist gets absolved of listening to Hannah’s tapes. He gets off the hook at every turn and the audience is only left with the promise of justice. Irresponsible and harming. Do better now instead of banking on a season two.