13 Reasons Why Season 1 Review



Season 1

Season 2

Episode Guide

Tape 1, Side A
Tape 1, Side B
Tape 2, Side A
Tape 2, Side B
Tape 3, Side A
Tape 3, Side B
Tape 4, Side A
Tape 4, Side B
Tape 5, Side A
Tape 5, Side B
Tape 6, Side A
Tape 6, Side B
Tape 7, Side A


Much like the agony felt by lead protagonist Clay (Dylan Minnette) through these 13 heart-wrenching episodes, watching 13 Reasons Why is quite the conflicting experience. On the one hand, the show clumsily navigates parts of its plot, stumbling around the mystery of what drove Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford) to commit suicide by injecting each episode with melodrama outside the flashback scenes that dive into Hannah’s life. Questionable acting plagues large stretches of the show too and moments of illogical idiocy by both the adult and teen characters alike, are reason enough for some to overlook 13 Reasons Why and write it off as a train-wreck. However, a combination of mystery, shocking plot developments and hard hitting questions around suicide and other teen issues make this an important and defining series, flaws and all.

The story itself is simple enough – 17 year old, high school student Hannah Baker takes her own life and with the school shocked and mourning her death, 13 tapes are left behind, recorded by Hannah herself, detailing the events leading up to her death and who’s ultimately responsible for it. Each episode leads on from the next with the tapes used to smartly anchor the story to a single event in Hannah’s life, slowly building towards her untimely end. At the heart of this is Hannah’s friend Clay, emotionally torn and visibly grieving her absence. When he stumbles upon the tapes and begins to listen, he quickly realizes numerous people are responsible for pushing her over the edge – including Clay himself. The tapes are a neat little plot device, helping to drive the narrative forward while the penultimate few episodes of the season really ramp up the pace to an explosive finale.

While the inclusion of taboo subjects around suicide, self harm, substance abuse and other teen issues deserves to be applauded, the execution in which they’re showcased is almost certain to divide opinion. There will be some that see this as an attempt to glorify suicide – the impact the tapes and Hannah’s death have on the people she deems responsible are devastating to say the least and this could arguably entice young teens to see suicide as a viable option if they’re experiencing similar issues. At the same time, there are moments of genuine shock, devastation and heartbreak throughout the series that really show the impact suicide has on people in a way that’s not usually shown on TV. This has been an incredibly conflicting topic to try and nail and in many ways, both arguments are correct. There are moments where the narrative is really clumsily handled but other times the plot is so endearing and well written it’sdifficult to imagine these juxtaposing scenes are from the same show.

When you strip the series down to its core, there’s a tender, emotional narrative here that provocatively explores a young teenager taking her life and the effect it has on everyone around her. In that respect 13 Reasons Why does what many other shows haven’t dared to try, shining an ugly spotlight on our societal flaws in preventing these sort of tragedies from occurring. It’s just a pity that the clumsily written dialogue and poor acting detract from what’s otherwise a pretty enjoyable teen drama. If you can look past some of the inherent flaws with the series, there’s an incredibly important message here and one that should not be taken lightly. For that alone, 13 Reasons Why deserves to be applauded for breaking convention and producing something truly thought provocative and original.

  • Verdict - 7.5/10