orangerful: (bsg - wishful drinking)
[personal profile] orangerful
13 Reasons Why Promo Image by Netflix

Warning: spoilers for the entire series and also lots of trigger-y topics, though I'm not going to go into detail

1. I did not read the book, which is funny because I read a lot of YA, but this came out when I was still reading mostly dystopian novels so I never picked it up. Oddly enough, around that same time As Simple as Snow came out and had similar themes, with the girl leaving notes and clues about her fate. I didn't read that either. Anyway, I have no way of comparing the two except...

2. Tim's daughter read the book a few years ago, when she was 14. Her memory is fuzzy on the details, but she was able to confirm that the book is ONLY from Clay's and Hannah's point of view. The other characters in the story are mentioned but only through them. There is none of the back story on the court case or the group ganging up on Clay etc.

3. Obviously, though, the book came out 10 years ago so things have changed. The TV show focuses a lot on cyber-bullying, which would have only been in its infancy back then. Smartphones play a prominent role in the show and in 2007 those weren't quite as mainstream as they are today, especially for teens.

4. But if we are on the topic of what is typical of teens, one of the biggest distractions about this show was the casting of older actors. I mean, obviously they had to, no one wants to watch actual 17 year olds go through what happens on this show, but they felt so obviously older to me. (Checking IMDB, almost all of them were at least 20).

5. The biggest giveaway/distraction though were the TATTOOS! HOW DO THESE TEENS HAVE SO MANY TATTOOS? At first, I shrugged it off because it was Justin and Tony, the two "rough" kids, so I thought it was a gang thing, but then suddenly everyone had a tattoo (except for Clay and Hannah, of course). Don't you have to be at least 18 to get tattoo? It didn't work for the characters, especially Jessica since she was supposed to be a Daddy's girl so when would she have done that? Just a nit-pick I had.

6. While I thought the idea of the story was intriguing, with the tapes and the messages, it didn't quite work for me. I think it might have stretched a little thin with the TV show format. In a book, the chapters can be whatever length the author deems necessary, but each episode of a TV show needs to be about the same, 45 mins to an hour. So some of the stories felt overdone.

7. I like the idea of Hannah as an unreliable narrator and I really wish they had focused on that a bit more. They hint at it with Zach but never really go any further in depth after that. It's not that I want to disprove anything she says, but I think it would be better to acknowledge that someone contemplating suicide is probably no longer seeing the world the right way - everything is coming at them in a way that makes them feel alone or attacked...which I guess was the point of the show overall, but I felt that could have been driven home a bit more for the teen viewers.

8. ...especially after the scene with the counselor when Hannah tries to report the rape. In the 20 minute special that is on Netflix (you can find it after the 13 episodes) they talk about how Hannah set him up to fail and recorded it all. At that point, she had made the decision to end her life, but she was pretending that she was giving the world one last chance. But she already knew it would let her down. I wish they had talked about that more in the show too. The counselor says it, but it sounds defensive coming from him. It might have been better if Clay had said it to him. Clay was finally coming to terms with the fact that all of them/none of them killed Hannah, and he could have said that to the counselor.

9. I feel like my whole high school experience was AMAZING compared to this show. If this is what high school was like for everyone else, I AM SO SORRY! I mean, I did stupid stuff, but nothing this stupid. I guess I was just a boring, straight-and-narrow kind of kid. I think the dumbest thing I did was make-out with my boyfriend in the band room after school, which made me miss the bus and then I was stranded.

10. Also, I felt a couple of Hannah's tapes, especially after the awfulness at the end, seemed kinda petty. Mostly Sherri's tape about the stop sign. That one was less about Sherri and more about Clay's story and coming to terms with his own anger at Jeff and Hannah. Because the girl hit a stop sign and even if she had called to report it, that accident was still going to happen. That one felt a bit self-righteous and it felt like a mistake anyone could make. Sherri and Zach were the two tapes I just felt more annoyed with Hannah than sorry for her.

11. Speaking of real life high schools, did anyone else have people that swore like sailors and drank on campus? Again, this pushed the limits for me because I'm like "WHO TALKS LIKE THAT?!?!" because they sounded like 'Game of Thrones' lines, not something a 17 year old would say, especially on school grounds! "Cumdumpster" ???

12. There is no way I am watching Season 2. I'm upset they are even doing that. The setup, guessing from the last episode, is going to be a school shooting. First, they should just buy another YA book because there are plenty out there on that subject. Second, I don't like this whole make-a-book-into-a-show-but-then-keep-going-after-it's-done. I'm already side-eyeing 'Handmaid's Tale' for that reason. Sometimes a story is ONE story and it is done.

13. The moral of the show, and I guess the book too, is that you should be nice to everyone because you don't know what is going on in their lives and how it could effect them. That little joke at lunch might hit a nerve that was made tender a few days ago by a conversation with someone else. Pretty much, don't be a dick. Which, in high school, seems to be most people's modes because teenagers. I don't think they do it out of malice, they are just oblivious. Their brains aren't fully formed yet!

Have you watched the show? What did you think? Have you read the book?

(no subject)

Date: 2017-05-16 03:52 pm (UTC)
rhoda_rants: (holtzmann)
From: [personal profile] rhoda_rants

Excellent write-up. As I mentioned before, I know this would not be a good show for me because of Reasons, but I am fascinated by the buzz around it. There's seems to be this perception that suicide rates will skyrocket because of teens watching it, and well, while glamourizing suicide isn't awesome, people don't give teens enough credit. The most I've seen from teens who are already depressed/dealing with anxiety/suicidal ideation is basically what I've done--know it exists, and it's probably triggering, so let's not watch it, at least not today.

(I had similar reasons for holding off on movies like Requiem for a Dream and May; my headspace can't handle that stuff all the time. Once or twice if I mentally prepare for it, but I have to *prepare* for it.)

On casting older actors--heh, yeah, that's a common grievance, but I also think there are legal reasons behind it? Like, I've heard there are sexually explicit/sexually violent scenes, and child pornography laws say you CANNOT cast actors under 18 in scenes of that nature, period. So yeah, not accurate, but there are reasons beyond just failure to cast age appropriate people. Probably. That's why so many characters were aged up in Game of Thrones, incidentally.

Here's question I haven't seen anyone ask yet: Why cassette tapes? Is this like The Ring where it's both nostalgic and faintly creepy at the same time, or is there another reason? I mean, this was 10 years ago, but cassette tapes were on the way out when I was in high school, and that's twice that length of time ago. I don't even know where you'd find a tape player these days.
Edited Date: 2017-05-16 03:52 pm (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2017-05-17 12:25 pm (UTC)
rhoda_rants: (holtzmann)
From: [personal profile] rhoda_rants
I was talking to a co-worker today who heard the author say in an interview when the book first came out that the best way to make your YA book withstand the test of time is have it start with some out-dated tech and have the teen marvel over its out-dated-ness.

Oh, that's clever! I'm going to remember that. *takes notes* I hadn't thought about it being impossible to "share" tapes; there's so simulcasting there, is there? And no comments, no context. I like this answer!

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