13 Reasons Why Series Premiere

Netflix's 13 Reasons Why Premiere: Will You Keep Listening, Uh, Watching?

Spoiler alert: This article reveals several surprises from the series premiere of 13 Reasons Why. If you haven’t watched it yet, go directly to Netflix. We’ll see you in an hour.

The newest addition to the Netflix family is angsty, dark and complicated — yet surprisingly fun to be around.

Based on the 2007 young-adult novel by Jay Asher, 13 Reasons Why — which dropped its first season Friday — spins the sordid tale of Hannah Baker, a fresh-faced teen with a bright future… cut tragically short when she decides to take her own life. Unbeknownst to all but a few, Hannah leaves behind 13 cassette tapes, each focused on an individual that played a key role in her fatal decision.

The tapes are posthumously delivered to Clay Jensen, a friend and co-worker of the deceased, who instantly succumbs to the allure of the tapes, allowing them to completely take over his life — like, to the point where he accidentally rides his bike into oncoming traffic while working his way through a particularly juicy stretch of tape on his friend Tony’s Walkman.

Actually, let me clarify: Tony (With the Good Hair) is much more than just Clay’s friend, although that much isn’t revealed until midway through the premiere. For reasons that will become clearer as you crawl towards the finale, Tony is keeping a watchful eye on Clay as he navigates Hannah’s treacherous tale, offering (somewhat) helpful hints along the way.

In case you didn’t already assume this, the 13 tapes Hannah recorded coincide with each of the season’s 13 episodes — and boy is Tape No. 1 a freakin’ doozy. In a nutshell, it details Hannah’s first kiss, which came courtesy of a seemingly lovable meathead named Justin Foley. But Hannah’s whole life changes when a misleading cell phone picture (she was just going down the slide, people!) makes its way around the school faster than you could say “Hannah baker is a slut.” (Her words, not mine.)

How exactly this incident ties into the grand scheme of things remains unknown. So here’s my question for you: Will you keep following Hannah’s story? Or were you ready to bow out the minute she asked Clay to flip the tape?

Personally, I’m inclined to keep watching. Not only am I a sucker for a good mystery — no matter how morbid — but there’s also just something really watchable about this cast. (Sorry, I don’t have a better word for it. Someone please buy me a thesaurus.) Katherine Langford‘s portrayal of Hannah is thoroughly haunting, while Dylan Minnette keeps the story grounded as the charming-yet-unwitting participant in Hannah’s afterlife activities.

Grade the premiere below, then drop a comment with your thoughts on the series. And please try not to spoil the story for other commenters who may be a few episodes behind you.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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23 Comments
  1. sarah t says:

    I just watched Ep. 1 this morning and I’m partway through Ep. 2. Pretty good so far. I agree with you, the cast is definitely watchable (mainly Clay and Hannah are the draws for me) but supporting cast is pretty strong too. Overall, solid so far. It’s holding my interest.

    • Rob says:

      I’ve finished it. Clay and Hannah remain engaging throughout and the actors do not disappoint but take care those who watch. This show is haunting.

      • tvloverSA says:

        Yes it is really devastating in the end I just wish we got some closure, that the main villain will get what’s coming to him unless they is a season 2….

  2. Sarah says:

    I have not watched it yet but I will. The book was so good.

  3. leo says:

    Just watched an episode, and the leading actor never smiles. Weird. And he looked like a jock, not a nerd.

    • abz says:

      To be fair, there wasn’t really much for him to smile about for most of the episode.
      I actually think he fits the nerdy, socially awkward type character pretty well.

    • kitsunesaru says:

      To be fair, ot many people would be smiling after their friend has died. Plus he’s listening to her on some tapes talk about crappy things that happened.

  4. How close does this come to the book?

  5. Peter says:

    started wstching it and i am hooked!I am just watching episode 2

  6. Bill says:

    The passive aggressive teenage angst is getting a little hard to handle. Only half way through the second episode.

  7. abz says:

    I liked the premiere and I’m intrigued to see where it goes. One thing though. It felt a little Paper Towns-y. I hope this series isn’t as pretentious.

  8. Dude says:

    Haven’t watching it yet but I’m interested in seeing what they do with it. The book had a really good concept but the execution was terrible (a common trend in Jay Asher books). Hoping the series works out better.

  9. kitsunesaru says:

    I never thought I would watch, but all the trailers etc have got me wanting to. I read the book, but it was a little overwhelming for me. I was actually unwell for a couple of days after reading. I didn’t even think the book was that amazing, it was just good, in my opinion. So if I work up the courage, I think I will try watching it.

    • M says:

      If the book left you shaken, I’d recommend not watching it. It’s extremely graphic and disturbing towards the end.

      • kitsunesaru says:

        Thanks for the warning. I did start watching (one epi 5). I managing okay so far, but when it gets closer to the end I’ll be prepared at least. I read an article with spoilers so I know what’s coming. I find it very engrossing so far though.

  10. Jon says:

    Clay is super cute!!!

  11. abz says:

    It was so addicting. I couldn’t stop watching. I just finished it. One of the best new shows I’ve seen. Such a haunting and tragic story. Can anyone tell me, does the show follow the book closely or is it different? I might check out the book at some point. Is there a follow-up to the story?

  12. Addictive. Haunting. Devastating. Relatable even to a 40-something. Some of the best musical choices I’ve heard on a TV show … ever.

    This is a show that we need more than ever. I’d recommend that anyone who’s lost someone to suicide … or anyone who’s a survivor of sexual assault up to and including rape … take caution. Maybe watch this with someone who can be an anchor, or skip it if you don’t have that person.

    Given Selena Gomez’s own struggles with anxiety and depression, I’m glad — for her sake — that she was a producer here but not the lead actress. (Additionally, having someone that famous in the lead role would have probably been distracting.) But I’m so … grateful, I guess is the right word, that she brought this to television.

    And while some things are left hanging at the end … I really hope they resist any urge to create a sequel or continuation.

  13. Nick Mason says:

    it is interesting but honestly I felt like it could have been just a movie, it feels very stretched thin and it makes me angry that the endgame is that she kills herself. Its like WHY? she shouldn’t have to kill herself because everyone else was a jerk to her. It seems like a lame message to send. Also all the teens on this show make me angry, they have good parents and don’t bother talking to them or some of them do but it is like clay’s parents don’t even really try to talk to him. I would not let my kid shut me out like that. They need to be more persistent. It feels like they didn’t even really try.

    • abz says:

      I think that’s part of the point. Suicide is a terrible thing and some people are in so much pain that they commit suicide to let go of everything. Of course she shouldn’t have to kill herself because of the way others treated her. But she did so because she reached a breaking point. She was in too much pain and hurt and lost all sense of hope. It really demonstrates how you don’t always know what is truly going on with a person. Hannah put on a smile a lot of the time. She wanted help but didn’t get the help she needed. The therapist was terrible and the rape was probably her breaking point. It crushed her soul. Everything she did, she never felt any good come from it. It just became one bad thing after another. I feel like the message here is to be aware of the manner in which we treat others and to increase awareness of depression, mental health and suicide and noticing different signs and that people can put on faces and hide what they really are going through. That was certainly the case with Hannah’s mom and we see after the suicide that her mom really didn’t know anything about what was truly going on with her daughter.

      ” I would not let my kid shut me out like that.”
      I’m not a parent, but I feel that statement might be a lot easier said than done. The more the parents pushed, the greater the chance of them possibly pushing their kid away. Especially at that age where everything going on in the teenagers world feels like it’s the most important thing in the world and some of them don’t want to open up to their parents. I do feel like Clay’s mother did try to find out what’s going on with him and to help him. Whereas his dad took a more laid back approach and understanding the complexities of the situation with his son losing a school mate to suicide and just making himself available if Clay needed him.
      I do agree that some of the other parents seemed clueless and ignorant as to what might really going on with their children and that we only got more of a focus on Clay’s parent because he was one of the main characters. But that goes to show just how good teenagers have become at hiding things from their parents.

  14. maddie says:

    The show has a good acting, good writing and and important topic. I have finished the entire season and I could predict what will be in next season, a much harder topic in US. I had two suicides in my family, my uncle who jumped off a building at age 26 and a cousin who drowned a few years ago. I stopped one of my uncle suicide attempt at age 7 because I didn’t see his legs at the small gap through the bathroom door. I told my parents and it save my uncle’s life. But he attempted at least twice again and succeeded at the end. It was something which affected my life and perspective about pain and suffering, strength and weakness. It was definitely a topic to be addressed but I feel the show didn’t really give a real solution at the end. Alex shot himself and many of those involved are suffering, perhaps at the same level Hannah did. The suffering may also cause Tyler to do something terrible. Jessica and Justin may never recover. Pain comes in different ways and it is different for different people but it always has one thing in common – it carries a great deal of anger. It would be great if time were taken to give care to each of character, to give them some kind of solution. The show seem to focus on a perspective of Hannah, her pain, making her journey the only one with a reason. The blame, is contagious and we all want someone to take the blame. There is not a lot of forgiveness in the show, which I think is very important. How do we stop even the bullies from similar fate when their world turned against them too?

  15. Kellyanne Litton says:

    Please do not post this below but share with Netflix executives. I have not watched your show but just saw a post on it from my son who says it glorifies suicide. My son has depression. How irresponsible of you to make a show glorifying suicide when the youth of this country are taking their own lives daily. You are part of the problem and should be encouraging youth to be strong and hang on as life will get better. Living is always better.. seeking help for mental health is better.. I am appalled and will be canceling our Netflix subscription so I do not have to worry about your show influencing my son to do something dangerous.

    • abz says:

      But who is forcing you or your son to watch the show?
      I’ve read many opposing opinions about the show and I’ve watched it myself. I personally don’t think it glorifies suicide. I think it’s offers a platform for such a sensitive to really be discussed. Not sure how closely the series follows the book. The depiction of Hannah’s suicide was heartbreaking and painful. I don’t think it was being glorified. It wasn’t the way many shows depict suicide as this peaceful letting go. Hannah felt the pain when she did it. And the show allows you to see how her actions weren’t a result of one thing, but so many reasons as to why she went through with it and committed such a tragic act. They showed the pain, the loneliness and sadness and soul crushing trauma she went through. It created a discussion about the signs of suicide and through Clay as he was listening to the tapes we get to see him wonder about all the instances where if someone acted differently or said something kind or did something else, it might have led to a different conclusion for Hannah.
      I’ve been going through depression for many years myself. It’s such a difficult thing to go through so I understand how the show can be triggering for some people (it wasn’t for me). But I just think that some good can come out of this show and fostering discussion about suicide and the signs and prevention methods. If anything, it also shows just how important it is to continue to combat bullying among youth.