Th1rteen R3asons Why. 13 reasons why Hannah Baker killed herself which were recorded onto tapes and then spread among those who contributed to her death. It’s a show that has caused a lot of controversy about themes that teenagers and young adults face in today’s society. While this is a review about the show, I’ll also be going into those themes and how those themes related to my personal life growing up.
Before I begin this review, apart from spoilers of the show, some of the themes that are going to be brought up are very sensitive. I suggest that if you’re uncomfortable with themes based around suicide, sexual assaults, and abusive situations… You’d probs best get the hell out of this review. I’m not censoring any of the themes and I’m not going to sugar coat it. Just like how Th1rteen R3asons Why didn’t either.
The Plot begins with Clay Jensen getting a box left in front of his house that containing tapes numbered 1 to 13 from Hannah Baker, a girl who committed suicide a few weeks earlier. He listens to the first tape which has Hannah speaking into it, revealing that the following tapes each contain a reason why Hannah killed and the person responsible for it. As he listens to each tape, we find out that there are other people who received the tapes before him and that only those who have contributed to Hannah’s death are recipients of them.
The other teenagers who have all listened to the tapes and passed them on, are worried about Clay’s reaction to them. Clay and Hannah were friends when she was alive and his sense of morals are on a different spectrum to theirs. Each episode is based off a tape which will be detailed below. More information about what happens in each episode will be delved into afterward.
Tape 1 – Justin Foley
Justin was Hannah’s first kiss and on the same night, took a compromising picture of Hannah. He then spread rumours about them having sex when the kiss was all that it was.
Tape 2 – Jessica Davis
Jessica, along with a boy named Alex, were friends with Hannah. Alex and Jessica begin a relationship and when it fails, Jessica unfairly blames Hannah for it.
Tape 3 – Alex Standall
Alex had created a list of Best/Worst features which had listed Hannah as the “Best Ass”. It’s revealed that he did this as a ploy to get in with the popular kids, as well as make Jessica jealous.
Tape 4 – Tyler Down
Tyler had taken compromising photos of Hannah and Courtney sharing a kiss that was spread around the school. He also had been stalking her heavily before then.
Tape 5 – Courtney Crimsen
Courtney threw Hannah under the bus to protect herself when questioned about whether the photo Tyler had taken was of her and Hannah.
Tape 6 – Marcus Cole
Marcus embarrassed Hannah on a Valentine’s Day date when attempting to see if the rumours of Hannah being a slut were true.
Tape 7 – Zach Dempsey
Hannah had rejected Zach’s advances and he got revenge by taking all the positive notes left in her letterbox in Communications Class, as he knew she heavily relied on them for positive reassurance.
Tape 8 – Ryan Shaver
Ryan had stolen a poem that Hannah had written, detailing all of her dark thoughts and problems, and publicly published them in his school paper.
Tape 9 – Justin Foley
The only person to have 2 tapes, Hannah blames Justin for letting Bryce rape Jessica while Jessica was heavily intoxicated, which Hannah witnessed.
Tape 10 – Sheri Holland
Sheri was driving Hannah home & accidentally hit a Stop sign. Sheri then abandons Hannah and drives off without calling the police, which then resulted in Clay’s friend Jeff being killed in a car crash.
Tape 11 – Clay Jensen
Hannah blames Clay for leaving at her request before they were about to have sex. She admits that he doesn’t deserve to be on the tapes, but she felt he needed to know why she killed herself.
Tape 12 – Bryce Walker
Bryce raped Hannah
Tape 13 – Mr. Porter
Originally intending for 12 tapes, Hannah created the 13th tape when the school counselor, Mr. Porter, dismisses Hannah’s claims of being raped because she refused to name who did it. He tells her to “move on with her life” which was the final straw for her.
Tape 14 – Bryce’s Confession
A tape that was made by Clay, after he successfully tricked Bryce into admitting that he had raped Hannah while secretly recording. Moments prior to obtaining the confession, Clay had been severely beaten by Bryce when Clay confronted him about being a rapist.
Along with the audience finding out what happened to Hannah via the tapes, we’re also given a detailed look into the lives of the subjects on Hannah’s tapes which make everything appear to not be as black and white as Hannah described. We also see how Hannah’s death has affected her parent as well as the community as a whole.
Hannah’s parents are in a lawsuit with the school as they firmly believe a lack of care is what resulted in Hannah’s death. This involves themes such as bullying graffiti in the bathrooms having to be painted over after Hannah’s mother takes photos to use against the school. Suicide Awareness paraphernalia being distributed as a means to save face in the eyes of the community. It eventually reaches a climax when Hannah’s parents receive a copy of the tapes from Tony, the boy who Hannah had trusted the tapes to in the first place, and they begin listening to them at the end of the season.
We see the psychological impact of Hannah’s death playing on Clay’s mind, especially since he’s unsure of how he would’ve contributed to Hannah killing herself. It tears at him so much that he begins hallucinating about Hannah and starts lashing out at the others mentioned on the tapes. It’s thought that this is him dealing with Hannah’s death through the stages of grief. Denial about how he would’ve contributed to her death. Anger at those mentioned and trying to get revenge for Hannah. Depression about how he never admit to Hannah about how he truly felt, which might have saved her. And then finally the acceptance of his role in her death after Tony helps him understand why Hannah named Clay in the tapes.
Bullying as a whole is one of the main subjects of the show, where we are exposed to many different types of bullying, which may come across as being eye-opening to some viewers. Alex making the Best/Worst list which resulted in Bryce first groping Hannah’s rear end, weeks before he raped her, Zach making Hannah feel worthless by stealing all of her positive mail from Communications class, and a whole bunch more that I could go into, but just don’t have the space for in this review.
Peer Pressure is also dealt with in the show, varying from the others to keep Clay quiet about the tapes, as they fear that he’ll go public with them, to going as far as Justin suggesting that they kill Clay and make it look like a suicide. Justin, Alex, and Marcus kidnap Clay in a car and scare him by driving at high speeds as a means to intimidate him into not seeking revenge for Hannah. Clay being peer pressured into drinking an entire bottle of alcohol in one go by Bryce. These are some of the examples that this theme presents in the show.
Social media and the impact it has on bullying is also explored, with how fast compromising images are spread. An example of this is when Clay gets revenge on Tyler by taking a photo of Tyler naked and spreading it around. Tyler is then subjected to bullying by his peers to the point where he begins to stockpile weapons, many believing him to be planning a shootout in the school.
Sexual Assault is also covered and it’s quite graphic in how it’s portrayed. We see through a closet door, Bryce raping Jessica and it’s a very uncomfortable scene to say the least. Hannah’s rape scene is also quite graphic as it’s done in a hot tub. Justin initially protects Bryce because Bryce had offered Justin a safe haven away from his abusive home life, but then admits to Jessica that Bryce raped her, after she became suspicious after the tapes were revealed.
Another topic linking up to the rape was the complete dismissal by Mr. Porter when Hannah confides in him about the rape. The idea of Hannah having regret and then feigning rape is brought up and he even goes as far as to tell her to move on with her life. It’s horrifying to watch someone who has a position of duty and care, just casually dismiss her claims, which ends up being the final straw for her. Understandably, this scene hit a lot of people who had been sexually assaulted quite hard.
And it goes without saying that the topic of Teenage Suicide is brought up numerous times. Hannah’s continuously negative experience keep bottling up as she tries to deal with the issues as best as she can. She had even felt like giving life one more shot after the initial 12 tapes had been recorded. But it fails and she ultimately kills herself.
And the show does NOT shy away nor sugar coat the act of Hannah killing herself. We see her, in graphic detail, slash her arms open with razor blades into an overflowing bathtub, and watch as life slowly drains out of her. And, if this scene wasn’t confronting enough, we’re treated to Hannah’s parents discovering her in the tub after she had died, and the pure emotions displayed.
The Controversy of Th1rteen R3asons Why
A lot of people have claimed that the show “glorifies suicide” which the way that Hannah made her tapes and had them spread among those who she believed drove her to commit suicide. Which I think is absolute rubbish. It would be incredibly foolish for any network, be it Netflix or any other medium, to advertise the glorification of suicide. NO ONE wants to see more people killing themselves and if this is what you take from the show, then perhaps you need to seriously get your head checked out.
I can understand that people who have been subjected to sexual assault, domestic violence, and those who have been/are suicidal, would be uncomfortable with the themes in the show. But that’s reality. People, this is probably one of the most realistic takes on how bullying can lead to a young person taking their own life. You may feel uncomfortable with it, but that’s the truth.
Warnings are always issued before the episodes that feature these themes in it, and if you continue to watch it from that point, you know what you’re about to witness. Instead of preaching about how this show is bad for people, why don’t you take a look at all the messages it presents, not just the ones you want to hate on.
The main theme of this show was that, even until the very end when she killed herself, she was crying out for help. The door was unlocked in the bathroom, the water was overflowing onto the floor and out of the bathroom. She was hoping her mother or father would stop her. She gave Tony the tapes in person because if he listened to it fast enough and acted sooner, he could’ve stopped her. Hannah wanted help. And she went as far as possible to try to get it. And she never got the help she needed.
EVERYTHING could have been avoided if the signs were noticed early on. Now, I’m not suggesting that if they acted sooner, Hannah wouldn’t of tried to kill herself by another method. But what I am saying is that the main theme was ultimately about a girl who tried to reach out as best as she could, and no one knew. Not even Clay, who was arguably one of her most loyal and true friends.
People criticized the show for showing Hannah kill herself. Why? That’s the pain you’ll experience if you kill yourself with a razor blade. The pain of the metal cutting your skin open and the blood pouring out. Not dripping, pouring out. The reaction of her parents when they find her, this is a VERY realistic demonstration on suicide.
People, you have to understand that this show isn’t just about the suicide of Hannah Baker. It’s also about how it affects the others who led her to do it. How it affected her family, how it affected her school… This is real. Suicide doesn’t end with the person killing themselves. It goes on to affect everyone they knew.
You’re probably reading this, thinking that I’m getting really involved with the themes of this show… Well… That’s what the next part is for.
How Th1rteen R3asons Why Relates To Me
I’ve been suicidal at one point in my life. To the point where there was a good chance I wouldn’t be here to type this right now. I don’t want to delve into the specifics of why I wanted to kill myself, as it was over 12 years ago and I don’t want to go back to that dark place again. I never actually attempted to kill myself, but the thoughts were there… And there were a couple of times that I was the edge of doing so.
But then I watched Th1rteen R3asons Why and those memories I had semi-repressed had come back. I couldn’t help but break down at the end of the season when Hannah’s parents discovered her… Because I saw myself in that position and I imagined that it was my Dad and my Mum who discovered me. And I thought about how lucky I was to get the help I needed in order to move past it. And then I stopped the episode for about 20 minutes to collect myself, because I was crying my eyes out.
Because I know now that if I had done it… My Dad wouldn’t of been able to live with himself. I would’ve killed him with the grief he would’ve suffered. My mum and my siblings… God, I’m even tearing up now just thinking about this…
Look, the point I’m trying to make is that I had a wake-up call that stopped me from doing it. And in doing so, I not only saved my own life. I saved the lives of those close to me. As I stated before, this show isn’t about the glorification of Suicide, it’s about the impact it has on those who knew you. And it’s about how the smallest things, like taking positive notes out of a mail box in class, can lead to someone taking their own life.
What I Didn’t Like In Th1rteen R3asons Why
Now that the emotional stuff is out of the way, it’s time to delve into what I DIDN’T like about Th1rteen R3asons Why. And the main aspect I didn’t like was that wanker in the image above.
I’m sorry, but Tony’s self-righteous attitude and flat-out bullying of Clay to make him listen to the tapes just ruined certain aspects of the story for me. Oh, did I say bullying? Yes. I did. Because he pretty much bullied Clay (and maybe the others) into listening to the tapes. Plus, the whole “Popping up at the right time” cliche with him was… Well… A bit of a cliche. I get why he’s so adamant on making everyone featured on the tapes to listen to them, but honestly dude…
You have incriminating evidence that this girl killed herself because she was raped and bullied, and you choose to NOT take it into the police? Sorry but fuck what Hannah wanted, you want justice for her then take that shit to the cops. Hell, just give her parents the tapes and let them decide how to take it from there. It’s only AFTER Clay finishes the tapes and tells Tony that he has Bryce’s confession that he FINALLY hands a digital copy of the tapes to Hannah’s parents.
Dude. Fuck you.
Clay’s Mother is another person whom I disliked in the show. Lady, your kid is CLEARLY affected by the death of Hannah and yet you STILL chose to defend the school in the lawsuit that Hannah’s parents are filing. You even had the chance to drop the case and you were like “lol no, I’m still doing it”… I’m sorry, you CLEARLY know that your kid is not happy about this and you’re still like “Fuck his mental stability, I’m still doing it”. EVEN AFTER HANNAH’S MOTHER CALLED YOU OUT AND SAID THAT CLAY WAS HER FRIEND!
Jesus Christ, lady… As a matter of fact, most of the adults in this show are fucking idiots…
Should There Be A Season 2?
It’s been heavily speculated that since Tyler’s stockpiling guns, that he’s going to shoot up the school in Season 2 which is going to be the main focus of the season. But should there even be a Season 2?No. No there shouldn’t.I get that Netflix want to make money off the show, especially given the attention that the show has gotten since it was released. But I feel that this is a story that’s best left where it ended. Given that the show is called Th1rteen R3asons Why, I don’t see how they’re going to continue the story.Unless what, Tyler has 13 Photos with explanations about why he shot the school? No, let the series end here and leave the audience speculating about where it goes from there.
Some stories are best left where they end, with that unknown hanging there. Did Alex try to kill himself? How does Justin move on from everything? How do Hannah’s parents react to her tapes? How does Clay’s mum feel about her son having the tapes? Does Mr. Porter go to the police with the tapes after Clay gives them to him? Does Bryce go to jail?
Don’t answer that. Just leave it as is. We don’t need answers for everything.
This is the sort of show where I feel every young person needs to see it. It may be graphic, but it’s realistic. And that’s what teens need to see. They NEED to see that their actions have consequences that might result in someone taking their own life.
9/10 – Very Powerful Story that leaves a Heavy Impact.