Do you follow?
So you might have guessed – I really enjoyed Netflix’s recent drop of new series 13 Reason Why – a drama that centres around the suicide of high school student Hannah Baker who leaves a series of tapes for her peers to listen to after her death.
DON’T be put off by the fact that they’re teenagers (if like me you’re twenty-something or older and a bit over it). It’s no shallow endeavor. It’s deep stuff and…well…here’s why I thought it was great.
ONE. The acting is brilliant. Every time I say this, I think to myself; ‘hey, that’s obvious! Acting HAS to be good otherwise it wouldn’t be acting’. But seriously – from Dylan Minnette and Katherine Langford (who is actually Australian) who play protagonists Clay Jensen and Hannah Baker, to Derek Luke who plays Mr Porter the counsellor; I couldn’t have believed them more.
TWO. Kate Walsh, ie Addison Montgomery of Grey’s Anatomy fame, is back. And she plays Hannah’s mum; not an easy task. But she absolutely smashes it.
THREE. The subject matter is really important stuff. People suffer – talk about it. People get attacked – report it. People have a tough time at school (well, I loved school most of the time but I know it’s bloody tough for some) so be nice to each other. In fact – be nice all the time. Ask someone how their day is. Stand up for another person being picked on. Speak your mind. Life’s too short. Quite literally. Can I also just remind you – being nice does NOT mean you’re a pushover. Let’s stamp out that theory please.
FOUR. Clay Jensen is a hero. I mean he’s just the nicest bloke on the planet. He genuinely cares and tries to make a difference. And doesn’t pretend to be someone else. That’s the funny thing about school. Some people peak at school or university. And they grow up eventually realising that they were never all that. While the underdogs come up trumps. You go, Clay.
FIVE. It has some nice injections of romance in there. There’s a tiny scene *spoiler alert* when Clay imagines what life could have been like if he and Hannah had got together properly. And it made my heart melt. It’s food for thought.
SIX. It’s set in America. And I love this quite simply because it helps me escape to a further away from London which consumes ALL of my energy. I want to live in America. But there are certain political issues i’d like to change there first please…Oh and can I bring my friends too.
SEVEN. The characters are incredibly well-rounded. On the surface, things might seem like a bit of a cliche. The jocks, the inbetweeners, the popular kids, the ‘geeks’. But this show follows them home. Take Justin for example. He might appear to be a confident pratt on the outside but we also see parts of his difficult family life, reminding us that you never know what goes on behind closed doors.
EIGHT. Tony. At one point he asks Clay if he is suggesting he’s like Yoda. And he is. He pops up all the time randomly. He’s quite small. He’s also quite a random addition. But he’s great.
NINE. Clever tricks. Have you ever watched a TV show or film and something seemingly inconsequential happens and you just brush it aside? Never brush it aside. Think about it; a crew, a 1st AD, a producer – EEERbody – has gone through this shot, written this down on paper – it’s cost money to film. It’s not inconsequential. Clay’s accident in one of the opening episodes when he gets hit by a car? It’s a bit out of the blue isn’t it. But it was their clever way of separating the past from the present. Clay’s bandage on his head helped us to know the difference.
TEN. It made me glad to be a grown up……..(well sort of one)
ELEVEN. It kept me company on so many commutes (hence the blog picture)
TWELVE. I know your opinions on Mr Porter might change towards the end, but in general he had a great calming presence. And why does every school not have a counsellor with their very own room?!
THIRTEEN. But ultimately it reminded me that once again film and TV, like other art forms, can literally affect our lives. Think about how this show has got so many people talking about mental health and suicide issues. Apparently it has even been surrounded by ‘controversy’ for not dealing with the issue properly. And I say to these people – what on EARTH are you talking about? Have you seen that moment when she sits in the bath and *spoiler and graphic alert* slowly slashes her wrists in the bath? And then goes into a huge panic? Well I did and it was bloody awful. And it got me thinking. So if that’s not some sort of a useful thing then I don’t know what is.
I’ve written an article on ‘film and propaganda’ for XXY Magazine – coming soon. I speak about the same sort of thing – how screens can make a difference to our days. You know – the stuff I always bang on about.
Have a lovely day. I’m off to see a friend Mickey tonight who is currently developing a show for Netflix. Watch this space!
P.S I know I need a manicure….