By Jack Rico
The 1-4-0: #SelenaGomez executive produces teen drama series #13ReasonsWhy where every story has two sides. Which side will you believe?
The Gist: This Netflix original series tells the story of how Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette) finds a mysterious box on his front porch filled with 13 cassettes. His life is turned upside down when he discovers that each cassette was recorded by Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford), a classmate who had committed suicide a few weeks ago. Each tape explains how 13 persons played a significant role in her death.
What Works: Netflix knocked it out of the park with this original series. The high school experience is extremely relatable, the language is obscene, the bullying is harsh, and the emotions are raw and heartbreaking. The show gets darker and more complicated as it goes on. There’s a scene where a character enters a bathroom and does something incredibly gory that will leave you stunned. It doesn’t sugarcoat the high school experience like most shows try to —this is not the best four years of your life trope. The show deals with suicide and harsh bullying but it doesn’t romanticize it.
For Selena Gomez, this has been a passion project. The theme of the show is about a girl who is struggling emotionally. Gomez has personal ties to this story because she spent some time last year in a treatment facility to help manage her anxiety, panic attacks and depression — Gomez wants to help others heal just like she has. Each character is incredibly well-rounded and this allows the audience to understand their motives. There’s no denying that Dylan Minnette and Katherine Langford have great on-screen chemistry, but Christian Navarro who plays the role of Tony Padilla, stole the scene more than once. Tony is gay and much to the audience’s delight, he doesn’t play a stereotypical gay role that many shows have already overused. Navarro’s character didn’t revolve around him being gay, his relationship with his 2 boyfriends was natural and most importantly, he wasn’t stereotyped —he drove a badass mustang, had a mysterious persona about him, and worked as a mechanic.
What Doesn’t Work: Often times you will briefly zone out because of how lengthy and emotionally packed the episodes can get and some of the stories are a bit repetitive since they overlap so much. With no commercial break, these hour long episodes can become way too lengthy and draining. The show would have been better off doing a shorter run, combined some of the overlapping story lines or just have shorter episodes.
Watch, Binge or Skip: Binge. It’s a tough and honest story that will not let you do anything else until you have finish watching it. The show promotes awareness and shines a light on a topic that should be discussed more, so that anyone who is going through something like that can seek the help that they need. It’s a story of real people who’ve made both good and bad choices in their lives and how such choices affected others, whether they intended them to or not.