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An Honest Review Of '13 Reasons Why' By Someone Who Was Bullied

High school never seemed so cruel.
PHOTO: 13 Reasons Why/Netflix
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The Long Plot, Sans Spoilers:

Hannah Baker, high school junior, has killed herself. Mysteriously, her ka-M.U./skinny love Clay Jensen finds a box of cassettes on his front door. He gets curious and listens to them; they're Hannah's suicide notes to her "killers." Thirteen grueling tapes all painstakingly recorded to detail why each of these 13 people have led to her end. Worse is they have to pass it along, like a nasty chain letter. If they don't play by her rules, the tapes get released to the public, spilling all their secrets. The show takes you through all that: Hannah's memories, the town's secrets, a mother's loss, and each kid's struggle with morals, regret, and self-preservation.

The Honest Plot:

The show is essentially Hannah Baker reading her suicide note to the 13 people who drove her to suicide and how the whole town, especially her parents and her almost romance Clay Jansen, deals with the weight of their actions.


The Main Actors And Where You Last Saw Them:

Dylan Minnette as Clay Jensen

Dylan has appeared in a number of shows and films such as Grey's Anatomy, Scandal, Goosebumps, and Don't Breathe.

Katherine Langford as Hannah Baker

Well, you haven't seen her before, but that doesn't mean you should doubt her acting chops. Also, she's actually Australian. 


Christian Navarro as Tony Padilla

Christian has had cameos on Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Blue Bloods, The Affair, and Vinyl.


Alisha Boe as Jessica Davis

Alisha has had appearances in Modern Family, Extant, Days of Our Lives, NCIS, CSI: Cyber, and Teen Wolf.


Brandon Flynn as Justin Foley

Brandon is a newcomer and this is his debut.


Justin Prentice as Bryce Walker

Wikipedia says Justin is also known for "his role as Cash Gallagher in the ABC sitcom Malibu Country."


Miles Heizer as Alex Standall

His ~look~ has caught the eye of many fashion publications. You've probably seen him on Nerve and Private Practice.


Ross Butler as Zach Dempsey

Reggie Mantle needs no introductions. K, he's also been on Teen Wolf.


Devin Druid as Tyler Down

Again, Wikipedia makes the case for "known portrayals." It says, "Devin is best known for his portrayal of a teenage Louie in the critically acclaimed FX series Louie by Louis C.K., and as Conrad in the feature film Louder Than Bombs."


Derek Luke as Kevin Porter

Derek has starred in a film that was directed and produced by Denzel Washington, Antowne Fisher.

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Kate Walsh as Olivia Baker

Kate is best known for her role of Dr. Addison Montgomery in Grey's Anatomy and its spin-off Private Practice. She was also the star of TV series Bad Judge.



Did you know?

1. Selena Gomez is an executive producer of the show. That's why you see her in the premiere night photos, even if she's not ~in~ the show.

2. The book Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher was originally published in 2007 and has been recognized by award-giving bodies since. It's bagged awards from the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) and Kirkus Reviews, among others. 

3. The 10th anniversary edition of the book contains the original ending. Google it for the shock of your life.

4. TV Insider reports, "The series covers many heavy issues, including depression, suicide, and sexual assault, to name a few, so naturally the stars would need cheering up every once in awhile." So, "they had therapy dogs visit the set."

5. You can listen to Hannah's tapes without the Netflix treatment here.

6. Netflix created a mini documentary (IDK what to call it) titled 13 Reasons Why: Behind the Reasons, which invites the show's cast, producers, and author as well as mental health professionals to talk about the scenes depicting with sensitive issues.

What My Friends Think:

"Didn't realize 13 Reasons Why was a horror series. It's mainly about teenage bullying and how it affects a person's life and death. This is a wake-up call for the younger generation to stop being assholes to each other. This is a wake-up call for parents to not focus too much on their children's achievements and teach them values that can truly make them better people for other people. Sa totoo lang, natakot ako magkaanak habang pinapanood ito. Sana 'di maging asshole ang anak ko at sana maturuan ko siyang lumaban at maging mabuting tao. AFFECTED TALAGA KO!" - Tracy Era

"It's like Riverdale… without Archie." - Name withheld

What I Think:

I read the book back in college when a friend recommended it to me but warned me it was "heavy." With that title, there was no chance I was picking it up all on my own. I might have an opinion on a lot of things, but I don't do hugot. Then the Netflix series came and I didn't care until a friend messaged me to say that I had to binge watch it right away. Note that this friend is a tech nerd and his life goal is to be Elon Musk, so I didn't peg him for the 13 Reasons kind. But hey, this story does seem to have an unlikely audience, and so my curiosity told me I needed to give it a shot. It took me a while to get hooked (episode 7) but I kept going for the assignment. It wasn't until episode 10 that I became personally invested. Now, my feelings are all over the place.

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13 Reasons touched on so many relevant issues such as bullying, rape, self-preservation, entitlement, loneliness, helplessness, abuse of power, and mental health, that finding an angle for this story was difficult in so much as picking one that I could really write about ~intelligently~. But let's go with the one I'm most familiar with: bullying.

Ever since I was one of the smallest kids in kinder all the way up to my almost-half-a-decade career, I've been on both sides of the fence: victim and bully. Heck, I've even been the friend of the bully, the friend of the victim, and a commentating observer at some point. I've become so desensitized to bullying that I would have agreed if someone called it "character building" or "a rite of passage," echoing Skye's sentiment "I know she didn't go through anything different from any of us. We all get through it." That goes to show how dismissive I can be (and of mental illness, too). But shows like this are here to shake us out of that mindset—thankfully!

As a writer, it's a reminder to be careful of how I use my voice (and the digital real estate I've been given). A lot of times, writing assignments are fluff or promotions that prey on insecurities but guised as self-improvement. This time, I'm writing to say that if we don't stop the cycle and consciously graduate from the playground that is high school, these dangerous behaviors follow us into adulthood. Our actions have consequences. Kindness and respect are important! And those things are difficult to reconcile for most of us set in our ways.

I don't want to turn this into some preachy tirade, so go watch it for yourself!


Thoughts I had while watching:

"It feels familiar pa rin even if I don't super ~remember~ the book na. Pero galing, may social media na sila!"

"Why does Clay have a derpy Logan Lerman vibe? Was he this helpless in the book?"

"He is permanently rocking face wounds. Anuna? How can his parents not be alarmed?"

"I don't even care if this is in the book anymore. This show is its own thing."

"Clay cannot be 5"2'. I’m 5"4' and I do not have ~proportions~ like that."

"Haha! 2017 na daw but their iOS is still old."

I'd Recommend It To:

Anyone who loves teen drama but is also tired of its cliches. Or if someone who wants to enjoy Netflix but also be woke and have ~*~feels~*~! You can't watch the whole season and not care. You can't be ~that~ heartless.

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