Show Review: ‘13 Reasons Why’ - Beyond The Reasons

Picture Credits:

“You don’t know what goes on in anyone’s life but your own. When you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re messing with their entire life. Everything. . . affects everything.”

The ‘new girl comes to high school and gets bullied by the popular kids’ narrative has been overused to a point where it is now a huge cliche. However, we never really look at how these constant taunts and catcalling affects a person’s psyche.

The subject of mental health has assumed significantly more importance in the past decade and it is about time we ask the question “how much do our actions affect others?”

Show Name - 13 Reasons Why (2017-2020)

Created by - Brian Yorkey

Based on - Jay Asher’s “Thirteen Reasons Why” (2007)

Starring - Dylan Minnette, Katherine Langford, Christian Navarro, Alisha Boe, Brandon Flynn, Justin Prentice, Miles Heizer, Ross Butler, Devin Druid, Amy Hargreaves, Derek Luke, Kate Walsh, Brian d'Arcy James, Grace Saif, Brenda Strong, Timothy Granaderos, Mark Pellegrino, Tyler Barnhardt, Deaken Bluman, Jan Luis Castellanos, Gary Sinise

Seasons - 4

Episodes - 49

Genre - Teen Drama, Mystery, Thriller

Language - English

Plot (Spoiler Alert!)

Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette) receives a box of tapes from Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford) - who has recently killed herself - that entail the story leading to her suicide; one tape each out of thirteen for every person responsible for her death.

As Clay desperately listens through the tapes trying to find out what landed him on this list of the woman he loves, he attempts to come to terms with her passing.

The people in the tapes are all a part of Liberty High - her classmates Justin Foley (Brandon Flynn), Jessica Davis (Alisha Boe), Alex Standall (Miles Heizer), Tyler Down (Devin Druid), Courtney Crimsen (Michele Selene Ang), Marcus Cole (Steven Silver), Zach Dempsey (Ross Butler), Ryan Shaver (Tommy Dorfman), Sheri Holland (Ajiona Alexus), Clay Jensen, Bryce Walker (Justin Prentice), and school guidance counselor Mr. Kevin Porter (Derek Luke).

Each of the thirteen reasons why deal with issues ranging from broken friendships and heartbreaks to slut-shaming and rape. 

While the first seasons deal with the reasons, the latter three are more of an insight into the lives of those she left behind and how her leaving has affected everyone and changed their lives.

The events that transpire, including but not limited to parental neglect, adultery, adoption, toxic masculinity and even sex addiction are ones that are even too difficult to imagine!

Themes Involved

The show’s most central theme and message remains attached to mental health and the ways to make things better for future teenagers and young adults.

Through the characters of Hannah (having chosen the ultimate path for herself, depicted extremely visually in her suicide scene in the season finale of the first season) and Clay (with his dreams, hallucinations and sessions with Dr. Robert Ellman (Gary Sinise), among many others.

The show also entails a strong feminist undertone that it pursues through characters like Jessica, Courtney and Sheri among many others. Jessica’s speech for student body president as well as her appeal during court proceedings regarding Bryce Walker raping her stands as a tribute to every survivor of sexual abuse. 

It also deals with the matter of bullying very strongly and graphically, showing the ugly things that everyday bullying can lead to. This theme is mostly explored through Tyler’s character, juxtaposed to Montgomery De La Cruz (Timothy Granaderos) as the bully.

Tyler’s outburst after the vividly shown scene of Monty raping him with a broom, almost leading to a school shooting, coupled with Monty’s home scenario involving a physically abusive father leaves audiences stunned, disgusted and shattered.


The show has received an ample amount of criticism regarding its vivid visual depiction of sensitive subjects like bullying, sexual assault, rape and suicide.

Various mental health professionals have stated that it might be triggering for people who have experienced such trauma in the past. The first season was even blamed to have glorified suicide.

In response to such concerns, Netflix added a video from March 2018 that warns fans of certain subjects on the show and provides a platform to support those with depression, anxiety and other mental health problems with crisis details, which plays at the beginning of every season.

They even edited out Hannah’s suicide scene in July 2019 as many viewers found it extremely disturbing.

Critical Reception

The show initially received a load of positive reviews from critics and viewers, but with growing number of seasons, the reviews became more mixed. However, the show remains one of the most talked about of its time with a huge amount of appreciation as well as fan following. 

Dylan Minnette and Katherine Langford’s acting has been revered since the beginning and Langford was even nominated for the Best Actress - Television Series Drama at the Golden Globe Awards.

Famous Quotes

  1. "I hope that wherever you go next, you feel peace [and] you feel safe in a way that you never did here."

  2. "That’s how it is for girls. People judge you by the way you look, the things they hear about you. They put a label on you."

  3. "Girls don't just get themselves into bad situations. Guys make the situations bad. You don't know what that feels like, to be a girl in that room."

  4. "What's the truth? What's true? I think we each have our own truth."

  5. "Why didn't you say this to me when I was alive?"

  6. "It must be possible to swim in the ocean of the one you love without drowning."

  7. "You can have the best intentions and still fall short."

  8. "It has to get better."

The Bottom Line

"No matter how many reasons there might be why, there are always more why not."

This series has definitely opened up major forums on discussing suicides openly in order to prevent them. It is a wake up call for everyone on the importance of monitoring one’s mental health and paying attention to creating healthier spaces for young adults.

My Ratings for the show - 4 on 5

Stream online on Netflix - 13 Reasons Why

Written By - Kristi Mazumdar