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.