13 Reason Why, What?



It was right around Tape 2, Side A (Episode 3 for normal people) when I started having serious issues with Netflix’s production of 13 Reasons Why.  Granted I know I’m not the target audience for this sort of thing, but with all the retro 1980’s music (I lived through the 80’s, WTF!?) being played I really sort of thought they wanted me to watch.  I should have known they were baiting when they showed the poor kid driving a completely restored 1968 Ford Mustang around like it was no big deal.  Furthermore, that same kid had a vintage Sony Walkman sitting in his ride like it was no big thing.  Mmm Hmm.  Right.

I’ve actually made it up to Tape 4, Side A (again, episode 7 for normal people) for whatever reason, wondering if this will get any better.  I keep thinking that perhaps there will be some big payoff for having watched all this mess.  Granted the subject matter deals with suicide and that alone should be a serious enough topic to generate a decent discussion, but I still haven’t found any worth in this yet.  But you know what, I’m going to back up to the first episode and point out the minor issues that started popping up for me.  And again, I’m only really focusing on the first episode here…



Meet Hannah.  She’s our tour guide on our tale of suicide.  In fact, she’s the person who has actually done the deed and met her maker.  In the opening shot, we are treated to her locker, which is now enshrined with well wishes after her death.   By all accounts, she was a cutie.  Cute in a Ione Skye Say Anything sort of way.  She could easily play a good girl or by change in hairstyle be the devilish girl down the street.  But judging by all the stickers and notes on her locker, she’s a good girl done wrong.   While the story is narrated by Hannah, we see the series unfold from the perspective of Clay Jensen.  Clay is the person with the headphones we see in the opening photograph I used for this post.  Clay is perceived to be a geek and as well as socially awkward among his classmates.  I make the distinction that Clay is a geek and not a nerd, since according to Wikipedia’s definition, nerd denotes being unattractive.  But of course, Clay is attractive…



How the tale unfolds is through a series of tapes that Hannah has recorded regarding the reasons why she committed suicide.  This is also shown through constant flashbacks.  The box of tapes is probably where the first question mark popped up in my head.  I looked at that box and noted that there were seven 60 minute tapes waiting to be heard.  That’s what, 14 hours of talking?  Goodness Sunshine, go to bed and snap out of it.  There’s only 2 more years of high school left.  And those are just the hours she spent recording the tapes.  It says nothing to the time she spent devising this plan to unfold after her death.  Pretty heady stuff for a sophomore in high school.  Had she spent some of this time devoted to resolving some the situations contained on the tapes, maybe she’d still be with us.  Furthermore, where did this girl get these tapes?!  You can’t just run down to Walgreen’s or the CVS Pharmacy and pick these things up anymore!  Oh, she must have been on Amazon or something, but I digress…



Meet Hannah’s parents.  They are first shown walking through the school to gather Hannah’s things from her locker.  It has been over a week since her suicide.  I don’t know, something unconsciously registered in my brain when I saw this scene.  Granted it’s only been a week since their daughter’s death so demure attire would be suitable, but I sort of looked at the mother and questioned “Is Hannah’s mother a Hottie?”  I mean, there she is almost as tall as her husband.  She’s got to be something like a size 2 petite.    Women don’t go through all that work and then fail to represent themselves.  I’m sorry, but that little white sweater and purse do little to hide the fact that this is a Hottie Mama.  Worse still, in the later episodes she is made up to look even more unassuming and timid (which is clearly not the case).



See what I mean?  What’s with the trench coat and the greasy looking hair?  Yeah, I wasn’t buying any of this for one second.  With that size zero waist, that woman is running things.  She’s not some timid little creature!  This woman has poise and determination!  So it came as little surprise when somewhere in a flashback they let her amp things up a bit.



Mmm Hmm.  There’s the Hottie Mama I was talking about!  Yeah, she’d give a good run to those girls that are her daughter’s schoolmates.  And they’re what, 35 years younger than she is?  I have found that these type of things don’t just happen by coincidence.  I don’t know, maybe she’s using the same incantations as the evil queen from Snow White, because… …because…  …nevermind.


As I mentioned before, the “poor kid” (and supposed good guy) drives a fabulous restored Ford Mustang.  From my eyes it looks to be a ’68, but I could be wrong.  What would you say something like that would cost these days?  I’m guessing a pretty crappy one would go for at least 13k.  Oh yes, there’s that darn Sony Walkman.  Granted it’s not the original TPS-L2 Walkman, but it’s clearly not from the 1990’s when Sony slapped MEGABASS stickers all over everything.


Did I mention that he also likes to listen to Joy Division?  I’m so not going there…



The leather jacket completes this tough guy doing-the-right-thing image.  And wait, the poor side of town is denoted by the leaves in the driveway.  I’m pretty sure this is set somewhere in California, so that two-story house we’re looking at across the street is going for at least $400k.  Poor is a relative term here.  For me, all of these little things began to add up to a Big Old Bottle of No.  No Thank You.  The story itself progresses like a modern version of ABC’s Afterschool Special.  It’s not bad per se, but it’s the little things that make you ask yourself, “am I really watching this?”  I’m sure the book from which this is sourced is far better.  Hopefully.

I’ll say this:  You’re sure to find a tune somewhere in the mix that you’ll like.  I know I did.  So if that’s your thing, then check out 13 Reason Why on Netflix.  Otherwise, if you want to hear a real tale (a quality tale) about suicide, then check out the podcast from the creators of This American Life titled S-Town.  But more about that little gem in a bit…









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