13 Reasons Why is not just a show- thanks to its boundary-pushing content, it has become a teenage phenomenon. Indeed, 13 Reasons Why has ventured where no other show has dared venture: into the tragic realms of sexual assault, depression, and teenage suicide.
Currently, in the show's third season, the fourth season has already been announced to conclude the saga. Here is what you should know about 13 Reasons Why:
13 Reasons Why takes inspiration from Jay Asher's eponymous 2007 novel and is set in the fictional Liberty High School. The series opens up two weeks after the suicide of Hannah Baker when Clay Jensen discovers 7 audio cassette tapes recorded by Hannah prior to her death.
Each tape chronicles the culmination of events that led to Hannah committing suicide. The tapes are distributed to the offenders in a specific order via an overseer.
As Clay listens on as the love of his life narrates the horrific events leading to her fateful decision, he seeks righteous justice against the perpetrators.
But as Clay gets closer to the crux, new events are brought to light that threatens to expose the forces complicit in Hannah's death including some influential (and dangerous) individuals.
Regardless of the divisive reviews about the graphic depictions and the dark nature of the show, one thing critics and fans alike have lauded unanimously is the performance of the cast members.
The relative novice cast members became overnight celebrities by the time 13 Reasons Why was through.
Dylan Minnette plays Clay Jensen, the main protagonist of the show. The series opens with the 17-year old Clay finding cassette tapes with his name under his bed. As he unearths the contents of the tapes, he becomes the center of the storm.
Katherine Langford plays Hannah Baker.
Christian Navarro plays Tony Padilla, Clay's best friend. As the series progresses, we learn that there is more to Tony than meets the eye.
Alisha Boe plays Jessica Davis, Hannah's best friend who has an acrimonious falling out with Hannah.
Brandon Flynn plays Justin Foley. First, Hannah's love interest and then Jessica's. He was the first one to have wronged Hannah setting off a chain reaction that ultimately led to her demise.
Justin Prentice plays Bryce Walker, the main antagonist of the show. Bryce is a rich jock who, as we find out, was responsible for the most egregious offense against Hannah when he sexually assaulted her when inebriated. His action was the final straw that led to Hannah's suicide.
Ross Butler plays Zach Dempsey, a student at Liberty High.
What are the Critics Saying?
As is expected of a series that deals with such heavy subjects as sexual assault, depression, and death- and is as graphic as it is, 13 Reasons Why has divided critics and fans.
On IMDb, the series holds a score of 7.8/10 based on reviews by the site's 231,822 users.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the series as a whole has an average rating of 38% for its three seasons. It has a higher audience approval rating with a 57% approval rate.
The show also holds a 60-out-of-100 score on Metacritic based on reviews by 37 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
Should You Watch 13 Reasons Why?
13 Reasons Why walks the fine line between being "too violent" and "not violent enough" with a surgeon's precision. The show never comes off as being graphic for the sake of being graphic.
The show has been criticized for romanticizing suicide with its uncensored portrayal on the show, but if anything, it raises awareness about the lives that are left destroyed in the wake of suicide.
The cast, especially Katherine Langford and Dylan Millette in the central roles, give their best performances to date. The chemistry between the intertwining characters also provides enough tension to make up for its slower pace.
The first season is undoubtedly one of the finest teenage-dramas to have ever aired, and while the latter seasons lose some of its charms when it moves away from teenage-drama to a whodunit crime thriller, the series still has enough intrigue to keep things from going stale.