Press play on Netflix’s new show

Mehek Kapur, Writer

First kisses. Hopeless crushes. Revenge. Suicide. The new Netflix original series, “Thirteen Reasons Why,” is based on a novel of the same title by bestselling author Jay Asher. Packed with drama, plot twists and realism, “Thirteen Reasons Why” tells a heartbreaking and daring story that is a work of visual genius, although it strays slightly from the more innocent novel.

The plot follows Clay Jensen, an average teenage boy, who receives a set of thirteen tapes from his crush, Hannah Baker, who recently committed suicide. He learns that she sent the set of tapes to thirteen different people around school; each tape details reasons as to how these 13 people contributed to her suicide. Clay begins to listen to the tapes, afraid of what his own tape might say, and discovers secrets about his classmates and Hannah—sides of them he never knew.

Despite using an old-school medium such as cassette tapes to tell Hannah’s story, the show takes a look into modern day themes and uncovers how small incidents of bullying and supposedly harmless pranks can spiral out of control. Regardless of the dark and mature themes continually thrown at the viewer, the story is a resonant, powerful one. Actress Katherine Langford plays the role of Hannah wonderfully and creates a relatable character as Hannah is led into her downward spiral through the flashing perspectives of the tapes and Clay’s memories. The supporting characters all play their roles well, showing realistic personas and making decisions driven by their emotions. They steal the show despite being present mostly to supplement Clay and Hannah’s stories.

The show moves a little slowly, with episodes running almost an hour long and each centering around only a single reason, making the “mystery” within the show less compelling because the viewer knows how the plot will end from the beginning. There are a few apparent plot holes such as Clay’s decision to not listen to all the tapes at the same time, a decision made by every listener except him; despite its flaws, though, “Thirteen Reasons Why” is a compelling series worth watching.

The show is great for anyone looking for a heartfelt, emotional drama, but something to be cautious about is that it does also cover some mature and sensitive topics such as sexual assault, violence and suicide. Overall, however, Netflix did a wonderful job converting this book into a show that delivers a powerful message.