13 gruelling episodes of 13 Reasons Why has had me gripped for the past 24 hours.
Set in an average school, 'Liberty High' (a name heavily tainted with irony as the characters are in fact deeply bound by social pressures), the protagonist unravels the myriad of reasons why his friend Hannah committed suicide through 13 tape recordings. As he understands that her suicide isn't the result of one action, but a combination of rumours, objectification and bullying, everyone's moral judgement is brought into question. The influence of peer pressure is heavily explored throughout the series as characters are intimidated, physically hurt and nearly killed in order to conceal the responsibility they share over Hannah's death.The struggle to find justice for her and the resulting battle against high school gang-culture and peer pressure aptly parallels the same culture that killed Hannah.
Despite strong performances from the lead actors, moments of painful, raw emotion and poignancy are somewhat spoiled by sloppy acting. Perhaps the tension in the dialogue between characters is supposed to demonstrate teenage awkwardness, however it is distracting and doesn't translate well. The unease of the actors, the cliche lines from cliche characters was almost cringeworthy, resulting in a battle to maintain focus.
The struggle was rewarding though, as the layers of the story became more apparent. The character development is fantastic in certain cases- Courtney and Sheri are hugely relatable. As they confess to their self-interest and cowardice, I think it's easy to transpose that onto personal experiences and empathise with their conflict. The complexity and extremity of the consequences of seemingly insignificant events demonstrates the impact of the butterfly effect, sensitivity of people's feelings and the fragility of mental health.
The structure of the series is riveting. Hannah's death is immediately introduced, however, we only learn the reasons why after 13 gruelling episodes. The sealing of Hannah's fate early on allows the audience to share the characters' regret and demonstrates the uselessness of hindsight, which is perhaps the most important message: It is important to act responsibly and look out for each other's mental health before it's too late.
Have you seen 13 Reasons Why yet? What were your thoughts?