13 Reasons Why; or Shoving Onions Into Your Eyeballs.
It’s day two and I have not yet recovered. No not from some illness but from the absolute emotional drain of the new Netflix series based on the Jay Asher novel “13 Reasons Why.”
For those that have not yet watched this show, you need to stop here. Notice I do say need, not should. Do it. Watch the show and come back later, Trust me you will not be disappointed. I will warn you though you may have your heart and soul broken as I did.
For me, it all began on Sunday night as I was looking to watch high school films for research on a current film project I am working on. I previously had never read the book or even heard of it. Somehow being busy the last couple weeks I had missed the buzz for this new show. I literally stumbled onto it without knowing any of the pretext or concepts.
It didn’t take long for the first episode of the series (maybe only 15 minutes) to realize I would not be going to bed that night. I knew this was going to be a binge watcher. By the end of the first episode, I already was feeling emotional. I will admit that about halfway in I was a bit concerned there was some crazy twist where Hannah was speaking from the dead in a more supernatural way. I also thought at one point maybe Clay is Hannah and this was some “Fight Club” type of thing. I hated the thought it may go one of those ways, now that I have completed the series I can only wish it was had been that easy. Turns out raw unfettered, uncensored, unapologetic life is much worse.
In episode two the emotional downward spiral continues onward. It’s a struggle between emotions though between the sadness and now the absolute love for the main two characters. We haven’t even really had a chance to contemplate anger, and hate, and complete devastation that will come later.
Speaking of the main two characters; You will fall in love with Hannah I am completely floored in amazement that this is the first major project for Kathrine Langford, Her acting through the entire series was brilliant. I also had no idea she is coming from Australia. Keep her on your radars. Ms. Langford, I hope you have cleared some room somewhere for your awards, I see many in your future.
She by far was not the only great performance in the series. All of the cast were excellent and brought with it a very real authentic feeling to the series.
Clay the other main role is a character I can relate too. Nerdy, Shy, and clueless when it comes to dating and girls. The chemistry portrayed by these actors feels like pure love. It is so hard to watch from the outside where you can see they both are mad for each other but neither will make an overt move. It makes me question how many opportunities have I been directly in and let slip away without ever doing something about it.
Now, even more, episodes in our emotions have now seen the full spectrum. Happiness, Sad, Anger, Hate, Sorrow, and more. The show is starting to get more intense and Hannah is coming apart right before our eyes. There is nothing we can do about it, and we can’t compel any of the other characters to either. We are constantly reminded it’s already too late. Hannah is already gone.
That leads to a few points from a filmmaking perspective. I am not sure I have watched anything done so well in a long time if ever. The combination of directing, editing, lighting, and sound are almost completely flawless. the way they used makeup, lighting, and some of the best editing transitions to date to set whether you were in the current or past timeline were remarkable. If this series does not take multiple Emmy’s and other awards it is a travesty.
For those that listened to me and watched the whole series before reading you know what comes next. The party. That damned horrible party. Such a key point in the tragic events and eventual end the party encompasses several episodes.
The first of these was almost unbearable to watch. (I had no clue what horrors lied ahead) The scene in the bedroom when Jessica is raped is horrifying. Some have questioned online “Why didn’t Hannah do something?” and I think honestly the scene captures that answer. Clearly, Bryce is a dangerous person and she had no clue what he was capable of. At this point, I think I’m broken to my lowest and decide to stop for the night and continue the next day with watching.
As the next few episodes play out we learn there are other reasons she may not have spoken out later on after the fact. Between what happens with Clay at the party to the accident on the way home everything was in Hannah’s eyes something that she could clearly not tell anyone. Not to mention her clearly collapsing depression already by this point.
We get to Clay’s tape. For the first time, my heart breaks for another character other than Hannah. To find out that the girl you were deeply in love with felt the same and you literally walked away is something I would hate to face. Right from the beginning, you could see the relationship grow between them. From the scenes at the theater, the rooftop watching the moon where Hannah slides closer, to the dance. When he is at the cliff’s edge having the talk with Hannah in the bedroom it breaks me again.
Then we get to episode 12. I still get shivers, hairs stand up and chills. My eyes swell readily again. It starts with the loss of Hannah’s parent’s money which at this point with everything beforehand could easily be enough to push her over the edge. She could probably feel that she let down the family and in the current issues with the store that could have huge ramifications in all of their future. That makes perfect sense it could be what finally breaks her and leads to the end.
I am wrong. Dreadfully, Hatefully, Tragically wrong.
Honestly, I can’t even write about it. If you followed my advice and watched the show you know what happens. Now I personally am already broken but know it’s one more episode. I even know what will happen in the episode to a point but still know I have to see it through.
Mr. Porter is one of the few characters I feel sorry for. I may find a lot of disagreement with that. Don’t get me wrong, he completely blew it and failed at his most important job as the counselor. Unfortunately, though schools do not have the money or resources to have well trained and correct staff in place and they have thousands of students. Mr. Porter though failed at the most meaningful and important time. I expect after hearing Hannah’s last day told through Clay and then later hearing the tapes he will be broken.
Then it’s time for what we already knew was eventually coming right from the very beginning. They didn’t hold anything back though, no innuendo to soften the blow. This was right in your face heart-wrenching-tearing-out-and-crushing to watch. There is more online debate as for how the series may ‘glorify’ suicide. The way they show it is why the series doesn’t. It is painful, and not just watching as a viewer but for Hannah convulsing, frightened, and alone cold in the bathtub. This does not glorify it at all. As a viewer, you are completely crushed. You by now have experienced her life as she knew it. You now though have had a complete realization of its end. You think you have no emotions left. You are empty.
And then her mother walks in.
There is not a more powerful and impact-full scene I have ever watched. Now I truly am done. I have no emotion left to give. I watch the last but I am numb. As I said from the start. It’s day two and I’m still not recovered.
This is a masterpiece in dramatic filmmaking. It is a story which I believe should be shown to every high school young adult. If for some reason you had not watched before reading please go watch it now. It’s an extremely difficult show to go through but it is an important one.
Matter of fact I encourage you even if you already have seen the series to not watch it, but experience it as I did. Open your emotions to it and take it as a very real hard life’s lesson. Just remember you may want to have a box of tissues and be ready to feel like as the title says that you will shove onions into your eyeballs.