TV review: 13 Reasons Why, Netflix (4 stars)

New Netflix show 13 Reasons Why is a compassionate examination of suicide

Hard-hitting, compassionate and thoughtful teen drama about bullying and suicide, based on Jay Asher's YA novel

Bullying and online humiliation can have devastating consequences. Netflix recently released Sundance documentary Audrie & Daisy which highlighted how young women are relentlessly slut-shamed at high school. Though directors Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk covered two specific cases, the film shows how on a broader level girls often feel isolated in their suffering. With the adaption of Jay Asher's powerful YA novel about a teenage girl who commits suicide as a 13-part series, Netflix further approaches tough subjects in a hard-hitting manner. Tom McCarthy (Spotlight) directs the first episode written by Brian Yorkey and it hits a compassionate and thoughtful tone without talking down to its audience.

Newcomer Katherine Langford is a marvellous revelation in her turn as Hannah Baker, who, after her suicide, leaves a box of cassette tapes for her friend Clay Jensen (a perfectly cast Dylan Minette) to listen to as an explanation of why she took her own life. The viewer follows Clay around while Hannah narrates a series of flashbacks. It's designed to be as compulsively watchable as Pretty Little Liars, with Hannah divulging juicy information about those she holds personally accountable in small doses.

Christian Navarro as Tony looks like he's just stepped off the set of Francis Ford Coppola's The Outsiders, his slick back hair, car and attire make him akin to one of the greasers' gang. He's a boy out of time. The use of analogue media as a form of communication for kids who have grown up in a digital world along with music from bands such as Joy Division and The Cure lends the show a surreal and stylish edge. These characters exist in the modern day but there's an allusion to that fact that no matter how far society seems to have progressed, attitudes toward women and a male sense of entitlement when it comes to their bodies never seem to disappear.

13 Reasons Why is available on Netflix from Fri 31 Mar.

Comments