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“Thirteen Reasons Why”: Big hype results in big dissapointment

Baylee Brynteson

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The much-anticipated Netflix adaptation of the popular book, “Thirteen Reasons Why” by Jay Asher, hit the website last Friday. While hopes ran high, the show didn’t get the reaction everyone was expecting.

This TV adaptation of Jay Asher’s book “Thirteen Reasons Why” was a bit of a letdown. The hype was there before the release; many who had read the book years before waited in anticipation and, with the addition of singer Selena Gomez’s name as an executive producer on the series, many new fans arose more recently.

Unfortunately, creator Brian Yorkey missed the mark big time with this one. The show comes across with an educational feel rather then an entertainment piece whereas the book is heartfelt and moving. Yorkey didn’t capture that heart and soul feeling of the book. “Thirteen Reasons Why” is a story about a young girl named Hannah Baker who commits suicide and leaves behind 13 cassette tapes explainingwhy she killed herselfand who is responsible for mistreating her, leading to her death.

The TV series does not seem to follow the book at all, other than in basic detail, like character names and personalities. Those who have never read the book may really enjoy the TV version as a freestanding show instead of an adaptation of a book. But for anyone who has actually read the book, it becomes a bit frustrating how different it is.

The book does cover some heavy topics, which Yorkey managed to put into pictures quite well, with respect to possible audience members that may have gone through similar situations.

The cinematography, musicand acting in the show are actually rather well done. The director clearly had a vision of what he wanted and made it happen. The more intense scenes were very well done, especially the scenes involving rape and suicide.

There were numerous counselors, psychiatristsand therapists on set coaching the cast during the harder scenes to help them really understand how survivors of rape really feel. It was important that the cast could portray each character as authentically as possible so that the correct messages were conveyed. It was also important that theseroles were handled very carefully so that real life rape, sexual assault and suicide victims were respected.

Unfortunately, the story line itself fell flat. The whole show, while it had a strong message, seemed more like a Public Service Announcement (PSA) than a TV series, and the way each episode was formatted was a bit odd. Instead of going into character details, the creators of the series chose to focus directly on the issues each character had. This contrasts strongly withthe book, which developed the characters personalities more.

The show definitely did demonstrate the consequences that any action, large or small, can have on a person. Yet they did so in a way that felt like you were watching something in an anti-bullying class in high school. Because the show feels so much like a class or PSA, it is hard to see it as a stand-alone show. Without the book, it is unlikely that it would have been so popular.

The book “Thirteen Reasons Why” and the Netflix adaptation of it still contain very important messages,regardless of how wellthey were made. They both demonstrate therape culture we live in today, sexualassault, problems withbullying, suicide and teenage sex.

The Netflix adaptation has its flaws, but does make up for someof them in the way the difficult topics were handled. The more difficultscenes that dealt withthose topics were veryelegantly done, and the shot compositions were put together in a way that added a lot of drama and understanding to each scene.

Reading the book first is obviously the recommended way to do things, but in this case you might actually enjoy the show more if you have not read the book. “Thirteen Reasons Why” is available now to stream on Netflix.

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The independent student newspaper of Western Illinois University. Serving Macomb since 1905.
“Thirteen Reasons Why”: Big hype results in big dissapointment