13 Reasons Why TV Poster Image

13 Reasons Why

Disturbing book adaptation sheds light on teen suicide.
Popular with kids

What parents need to know

Positive messages

A mixed bag. On one hand, the story brings to light the complexities of teen relationships and pressure and the extreme consequences of feeling isolated. On the other, it does so through the rather vindictive behavior of a teen who's tormenting her peers with guilt after her death and the supposition that teen life is rife with oppression. Ultimately the message is one of warning -- for teens to deal with their problems in constructive ways and for adults to stay in touch with their kids' activities and emotional health.

Positive role models

Clay's sensitivity and concern for Hannah is evident in how he's racked with guilt over the possibility of having contributed to her psychological struggles. Parents are involved in their teens' activities and monitor their whereabouts, but even so, teens often push boundaries and break family rules. Some of Hannah's peers behave in ways that are cruel and border on bullying.

Violence

The story revolves around a main character's suicide, which is shown in detail as she slits her wrists and her parents discover the body.  The content also  contains graphic rape scenes involving high school students; no nudity but panties are shown being forcibly removed, etc. More minor moments include a bike accident that leaves Clay's head bloody. Teens mock wrestle.

Sex

There are some moments of teen sexuality, including masturbation and some make-out scenes. A teen shares a photo he took up a girl's skirt showing her underwear.

Language

Very frequent cursing including "F--k," "s--t," "damn," "a--holes," and "sucks." Name-calling such as "idiot."

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Teens drink at a party with no noticeable consequences.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that 13 Reasons Why is an intense, dark Netflix drama based on the popular young adult novel Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher and is definitely not a light watch or for younger kids. The disturbing story explores a troubled teen's motivations for committing suicide, opening after the fatal event, with all appearances by deceased Hannah in the reflections of a boy who harbored a secret crush on her. Messages about treating people with respect and not taking others for granted are prominent, but the fact that Hannah blames others for her suicide is problematic and may send the wrong messages to some sensitive teens. The series doesn't shy away from mature issues, as Hannah's suicide is shown in great detail, as is more than one graphic rape scene involving a teenager. There's teen drinking, voyeurism (a boy circulates a picture of a girl in a compromising position after a sexual encounter), and lots of swearing ("f--k," "s--t," and "a--holes"). While this challenging story could help parents start conversations with teens about issues like bullying, isolation, and depression, the way the series addresses these issues is complex and may be confusing for impressionable viewers. 

What's the story?

13 REASONS WHY follows Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette) as he wrestles with his feelings after the recent suicide of his classmate and crush, Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford). Haunted by their brief friendship and her shocking death, Clay is surprised when a package arrives containing audio tapes on which Hannah chronicled the 13 matters -- and 13 people who caused them -- that led her to end her life. As Clay listens to each side and follows clues Hannah left on the recordings, he retraces events that reveal secrets and her peers' roles in them, connecting the dots that inspired her fatal decision.

Is it any good?

QUALITY

This series isn't a pleasant watch by any means, but it does raise vital issues that can inspire valuable discussions between parents and teens. There are two disturbing forces at play throughout the story, the first being Hannah's downward spiral and the circumstances that instigated it. Serious matters like cyberbullying, body image, sexual assault, and sexting are addressed unflinchingly; these scenes can be difficult to watch and are too mature for much of the targeted teen audience.

Hannah's choices are also complicated; it's clear that she blames others for her suicide. One wonders what, if anything, she hoped to gain by inflicting posthumous guilt on parties either actively engaged in tormenting her or innocently involved. As 13 Reasons Why is told from Clay's point of view, there's sympathy for him and others left behind, giving viewers a thought-provoking glimpse of what it's like to pick up the pieces after a suicide. Even so, the story's dark tone of blame and revenge sends some concerning messages parents may need to temper -- this is not a "fun" show and could be interpreted poorly by teens who aren't ready for the nuanced portrait of a young girl's life and death.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the issues raised in 13 Reasons Why. Have your teens witnessed or experienced cyberbullying or more traditional bullying? What different forms can this behavior take these days? What defenses against it exist?

  • Teens: Do you find your peer pool to be mostly inclusive or exclusive? Can social media be a curse as well as a blessing? How does our constant connection to other people via cell phones cause stress? On the other hand, what are the benefits of this culture?

  • Why do you think Hannah makes and distributes these tapes? Does it ever feel good to inflict pain on someone else? Is there a time for revenge, or should we always turn the other cheek? Why is it so hard to do so?

  • Families can also talk about suicide and the way it's addressed in this series. When is it important to talk about mental health, especially if you're worried about a friend or family member? Netflix has a website to visit after viewing the series, 13ReasonsWhy.info. What other resources are available to help both kids and adults

  • Sexual assault, specifically the rape of a main character, plays a large role in this series. Families can talk about resources available to teens; the Crisis Text Line is an excellent way for phone-shy teens to reach out in times of need.

TV details

Premiere date:March 31, 2017
Cast:Dylan Minnette, Katherine Langford, Brandon Flynn
Network:Netflix
Genre:Drama
Topics:Book characters, High school, Misfits and underdogs
TV rating:NR
Available on:Streaming

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Teen, 16 years old Written byBookNerd1842 April 2, 2017

A Must-See For Any High School Student

Back in sixth grade, I eagerly picked up the novel "Thirteen Reasons Why" from a shelf in the back of my catholic school's library. It had an eerie cover and an intriguing, unconventional synopsis, two factors I immediately found appealing. So I started reading. In no time, I was horrified and confused. I sought answers from my peers who pretended like they understood, but frankly knew just as much as me. I even gave the book to my Mom to read, because I still desperately needed to understand what happened to Hannah. Of course, my young and conceded self pretended as if I only wanted to pass on the story to her, but once she finished, she understood my actual intent. She sat me down and asked what I truthfully understood from the story, and explained how she didn't really want me to understand other topics addressed in the book just yet. She specifically used the term "shelving topics", so that later on, when I was ready, we could revisit them. I agreed, and we moved on. I was an avid reader, so it didn't take long for me to grow an obsession over another book. However, the story gradually developed a bad stigma in my head , because it was the book with the "bad things I shouldn't understand". I eventually left the catholic school I had discovered the novel at and transferred to my local public school in pursuit in a healthier environment, which I quickly and happily found. When I heard whispers about a film adaptation a couple years later, I grumbled a bit. I could only think, "No one should see that on screen". However, this was the time in which I was only really starting to meet genuine people and read honest stories. Everything was suddenly and beautifully becoming three dimensional. It was then I heard about the established Netflix TV Series, and I quite suddenly became curious. What had happened in that book I only had snippets of a memory left of? Over time I'd figured out bits and pieces of what I couldn't understand in the book, but some things were still fuzzy and hazy. I knew the main message--you have a bigger impact on others than you know. It made me a bit paranoid at times, but in the best possible way. Well, now that I've finished the TV Show, I wish I could tell you how much I cried. As a book nerd it pains me a little to admit I like it better than the book, and not just because I finally understood it. It offered so, so, so much more closure and character development, depicting messy teenagers who screwed up but realized it and tried to fix it. For any parent reading this, don't let your younger ones watch this show just yet. Please don't. It'll confuse and traumatize them, and it's frankly unnecessary and cruel. However, encourage your High Schoolers to. I'm now a ninth grader, and seeing that a majority of this happened to kids only a year older than me was frightening. These were the big kids who did bad things according to my younger self, and now they were me. They could have been me. Families should know that there's violence, there's drinking, there's swearing, and that there's sex. Worse, there are kids trying to do right who are beat up, there are kids who are pressured into drinking, the F bomb is spoken countless times throughout every episode, and there's a great deal of detailed rape. There's suicide that isn't glossed-over or sugar-coated in anyway, and viewers are forced to watch it all. But I'm not selecting the warnings reading there's "too much violence" or "too much sex", because the overwhelming large amount of violent content is the perfect amount for this story. Suicide and rape are not pretty, and they shouldn't be portrayed that way. The audience needs to want to look away and cry. The audience needs to understand that what's happening on screen isn't right. This is a painful story, but sometimes pain resonates stronger. This story battles the wants versus the needs of a dead girl and the tragedy of assuming a person's story. You never know what's going on in someone's life, and letting them down once could end up being the final straw in letting them down for a life-time. High-schoolers need to see this not only to find comfort in spotting themselves in Hannah's pain, but also so they can offer open eyes for peers like Hannah. Teens need to look up and around them, and this story will powerfully startle them into doing so. I love and hate this story all at once, and I hope you decide to as well.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 16 years old Written bylulu2255 April 1, 2017

The review makes the violence and sex sound less extreme

The rating of 16+ is pretty accurate for this TV show, but there is not a good description of how much sex and violence are in the TV series. In the first episode the amount sex is fairly tame, but as the series progresses more is applied or shown (both straight and gay, plus a teen is shown masturbating). The rating for sex is not entirely accurate, and should at least be three. Also the whole emotional aspect of the series is hard to process. The chilling suicide scene is hard to handle, and the description for violence does not even mention it. I have conclude that the rating was only for the first episode because there are plenty of important details that the review completely ignores. It is a very interesting series that shines a light onto the things that people need to know about, but just be aware that there are many things that are not covered in the review that should be.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Parent Written byLewis1 April 14, 2017

Are you kidding me?

Parents, Please, please, please watch this before you let your kids even think about watching it. There are messages in this show that need to be heard, but there is nothing redeeming in how it is presented here. I knew my daughter would ask to watch it, so I sat down for the first 4 episodes. That was enough. She did ask, because, "all the kids at school are watching it". No, she will not see it. Once something is seen/heard, it can't be taken back. This one is best left alone.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking