From Novel to Netflix Series: 13 Reasons Why

Alexandra Rapalo, Writer

13 Reasons Why, written by Jay Asher, was originally published in 2007 and now 10 years later it is one of the most raved about Netflix Original Series with 3.5 million social media impressions within the first week of its release. This show encapsulates the essence of high school pressures, the effects of bullying, and the stigmatized realities of mental health issues.


It takes the viewer on a journey through the beginning of Hannah Baker’s sophomore year leading up to her initial suicide. It relies on flashback and 13 tapes that she pre-recorded describing how the individual that specific tape is dedicated to had a role in her death.

For many of the cast members, including the main character, Katherine Langford, this is their “big break.”


Co-executive producer, Selena Gomez can relate to “everything that was going on… I was a mess just seeing it all come to life because I’ve experienced that.” Gomez and her team wanted to make the show feel as real as possible to the viewer so as to not take away from harsh realities, such as rape and domestic abuse, that survivors face. They embodied the tragedies of these events and demonstrated that it is not always easy to open up and talk about tragic life experiences and at times it can even be hard to believe them to be true, as we see with Jessica Davis’ character.


13 Reasons Why reveals that even if it seems as though someone has their life together, their home life may not be so pleasant. It does not shy away from exposing events, such as the tragic bloody suicide scene, because in reality suicides are tragic and grievous. The producers also did a great job of depicting parents coping with, or even believing, what they are seeing when they find their son or daughter in their home. There were aspects of the show that have seemed controversial, but if no one speaks about them then they will remain stigmatized.


While surfing through #13ReasonsWhy on Twitter, it is evident that there are two completely different views on the show.


For the people who are against the show, they feel as though it made it seem as if it is easy for people with mental health issues to speak about what they are going through or to even do what Hannah Baker did when she made the tapes, while that may not be the case for everyone battling this. They also feel as if the show normalizes mental health issues and causes for people “to not understand depression or take it seriously. Depression is a mental illness, you cannot just ‘get over it’ & I don’t think a lot of people understand that” @bloodofrubies said.


On the other hand, people who enjoyed the show and what it stood for, such as @Saffy_Elizabeth, voiced that, “If you say that 13 Reasons Why promotes suicide, you’ve never been bullied; it’s the most real life view on school I’ve seen #13ReasonsWhy.” While there were many different views about this show, what really matters is that people are becoming aware of these issues and talking about them.


I enjoyed this show as much as the book, although the show did add more drama and more of a plot, 13 Reasons Why does an extraordinary job of highlighting topics that are sometimes looked down upon in today’s society. It depicts the realities of high school bullying and how the spiral effect can have a huge impact on someone’s life. It also shows the parent’s fight for justice and how hard life is for the parents of a child who has recently committed suicide. This is a show that has opened the eyes of society and that has also encouraged others to seek help and know that there are people who care about them and the things they are battling, which may be exactly what people need.