Sunday, April 9, 2017

This Is Your Tape

I read and reread Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, and I can honestly say it was an eye opener. It makes you reconsider the second look you give that person in passing, and it definitely makes you more aware of how the small things can affect someone so desperately.

They recently made a Netflix series, and I am always skeptical of these. A lot of the time the movie, or tv series, takes away from the novel, so the book nerds are always so disappointed because ALL HOLLYWOOD NEEDED TO DO WAS KEEP IT THE SAME! I was dubious, but I indulged and finished the series. the event you haven't read the book or watched the end of the series.

The one thing I really liked about the series was the casting. I felt they did a perfect job depicting characters; Clay wasn't the overly sporty super good looking junior, Hannah was beautiful but not like the cheerleader types, Bryce was EXACTLY how you pictured. It worked. And I think all the actors did a great job with the characterization as well.
The HUGE difference from the book was the fact that we had insider information on characters we didn't know anything about prior. Justin Foley was a jerk- he spread rumors, he allowed his friend to rape his girlfriend- we as the reading community were like there is no redemption for him. However, in the series we are taken into Justin's home life where he has a neglectful and drug addicted mother who has an abusive boyfriend. So suddenly we are not so quick to judge Justin on his bad decisions and what he did to Hannah; we are left feeling like "Justin needed a hug" (as one of my sophomore girls said). I felt this was conflicting; Hannah Baker made these tapes because these people did different things that expressed the 13 reasons that eventually lead to her suicide. So why should I feel bad for them? They are ultimately horrible people; most of the people on the tape are just doing something to boost their popularity or just to be mean to someone. So why do I feel bad for them? I don't think this was a bad choice; I just felt it was interesting. I am supposed to be on Hannah's side, yet I have a soft spot for the jerks who made her feel small and alone.

After the second episode I knew we were making detours from the book. So, just like The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones, you enjoy the series for the sake of the series- not because you want it to be identical to the novel you love. There were  a lot of things I was uneasy with, but I did not dislike the series. It was filled with drama, it was terribly sad, at times graphic, but some of it was unexpected. They misnamed characters, changed events, rearranged the tapes, and added more details- but the show was consistently 50 minutes each episode. Ultimately, not that bad of a show. Honestly though, certain things should not have been points of concern: like Jessica and Justin's drama over his drug break down, Clay's sudden need for vengeance when his character never displayed this emotion, Justin's need to "get rid of Clay" to solve their problems, and the fact that all the boys have tattoos in high school. I know it's dumb, but it did bother me.

The end of the show really is a point of confusion. First, Clay completely bypasses the next person on the tapes and goes to the guidance counselor. Tony makes the decision to give Hannah's parents the tapes (who are in the process of suing the school district for their daughter's suicide). And Alex, the one person on the tapes who doesn't seem to have betrayed Hannah so poorly, has shot himself in the head at the end. This leaves us open for a season two...which would be a disaster. There are so many loose ends that weren't tied up; like the law suit, the school principal trying to cover the whole incident up, Hannah's parents having the tapes, and now Alex's impending death. I really think it's a let down if this were the ending, but it would be even worse if they decided to do a season two. It would completely take away from the book; not only that but it just wouldn't be enough material.
 It seems like lately Netflix series have a tendency to start off strong then let us down in the end...and in my opinion...I don't really know what to think about this one.

If you're going to watch you have to go in not expecting the exact information from the novel. It does a nice job of keeping the events the same (at least the really dramatic ones), the characters are very well established; but there are lots of different detours. Again, this is just me and my opinion- definitely check out the series if you loved the book. It kept true to the skeleton story Asher weaved of Hannah's life, although Netflix did need to include more of the drama to give viewers something else to long for.

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