Binge Watch: Thirteen Reasons Why (Season One)

Thirteen Reasons Why (2017)

Rated TV-MA: For Extremely Sensitive Themes and Disturbing Imagery, Intense Violence, and Strong Language

Running Time (Per Episode): Around 40 minutes - 1 hour (60 minutes)

Genre/s: Drama, Mystery, Suspense, Teen, Thriller

First Aired On March 31, 2017 (US Air Date; Available For Worldwide Viewing)

Presented by July Moon Productions, Kicked To The Curb Productions, Anonymous Content, Paramount Television, and Netflix

Based on the book of the same name written by Jay Asher

Showrunner: Brian Yorkey

  • Dylan Minnette as Clay Jensen
  • Katherine Langford as Hannah Baker
  • Christian Navarro as Tony Padilla
  • Alisha Boe as Jessica Davis
  • Brandon Flynn as Justin Foley
  • Justin Prentice as Bryce Walker
  • Miles Heizer as Alex Standall
  • Ross Butler as Zach Dempsey
  • Devin Druid as Tyler Down
  • Amy Hargreaves as Lainie Jensen
  • Derek Luke as Kevin Porter
  • Kate Walsh as Olivia Baker

Well here is Dateline Movies taking its next step in the blogging evolutionary ladder, reviewing seasons of various television and web programs. Hey, we already made 2 posts about Game of Thrones, and everyone of us in the entire Martinez household binge watch various trending and popular shows on a regular basis, so why not include those as well here?

For our first post under this category, we decided to binge watch one of the most talked about, and part of the most controversial series of all time. In fact, it is so controversial, even our school shared a Facebook post once, if I am not mistaken, that reminds us students to watch it with a parent of guardian due to its subject matter. Welcome back once more, as our first official binge watch post, here is our review of the widely thought-provoking, emotionally gripping, and all around powerful, Thirteen Reasons Why. And since this is a season review, this post is somewhat longer than our usual offerings.

If you do not want to look at spoilers, it is best that you leave. Right now!

Also, just a little heads-up for some of our (potentially) younger readers out there. This show deals with a lot of serious and explicit themes and concepts, including but not limited to suicide, rape, and all the like, so read with care and caution!

What is the season about?

In the aftermath of the suicide of his friend and co-worker, and social outcast Hannah Baker, played by Langford, average Liberty High School student Clay Jensen, played by Minnette (Don't Breathe) receives a mysterious package containing seven tapes, all containing thirteen reasons why Hannah killed herself.

Fueled by his unrequited feelings for Hannah, Clay embarks on a journey to find out why she decided to end it all, all the while being guided by his enigmatic guardian, Tony Padilla, played by Navarro (Bushwick), and encountering several enemies who wish to keep their secrets hidden, from classmates such as Justin Foley, played by Flynn (Home Movies), Jessica Davis, played by Boe (Paranormal Activity 4), Alex Standall, played by Heizer (Both Langford and Heizer will appear in Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda), Zach Dempsey, played by Butler (Riverdale), Bryce Walker, played by Prentice (Terri), and Tyler Down, played by Druid (Imperium), to school staff, including counselor Kevin Porter, played by Luke (Antwone Fisher), even his own increasingly concerned mother, Lainie, played by Hargreaves (Michael Clayton).

Meanwhile, Hannah's parents, especially her mother, Olivia, played by Walsh (Grey's Anatomy) do their best to bring justice to Hannah's name by suing the school, but with the campus' reputation in jeopardy, will they?

What we think of the season?

A Netflix program about a suicide of a high school student? In the contemporary world, this is immediately a recipe for complete polarization between audiences. Prior to us watching all of the thirteen episodes, I assumed that the overall show could either be an overly blatant and preachy lecture on the subject matter, or a completely insensitive cash-grab trying to bandwagon on modern issues. The end result is a little bit of both, in all honesty, making me agree with one of my classmate's claims of it being somewhat opportunistic, and we will discuss why as we progress through the review. However, despite its fair share of flaws, the series is also a disturbing and eye-opening study on how bullying, peer pressure, family problems, drugs, alcoholism and other life difficulties can push a person towards the edge.

The show employed some pretty brilliant camera work, and I really love the use of lighting to signal if one scene is a flashback or not thanks to lighting. (Bright for flashback, and a darker palette for a present setting)

Like my uncle, who actually did not enjoy the show as much as me and Dad did, the music is splendid. My personal favorites include "Love Will Tear Us Apart" by Joy Division, and "The Night We Met" by Lord Huron, both of which fit the show's overall narrative. Of course Selena Gomez ought to appear in the show, given that, in addition to being the producer, she was originally being pictured as Hannah Baker, according to the vision of Jay Asher. Like John Legend in La La Land, she made use of that credit to make a really decent penultimate song in the thirteenth episode, "Tape 7, Side A", titled "Only You".

Arguably, the highlight of the series is the story. Mind you, I have not read Jay Asher's original book, and the only time when I actually laid my eyes on the source material itself was when I was looking at a display of it, while waiting for my parents to finish paying for my school materials at a local bookstore. I was not much of a bookworm myself, and my interest at the book was not on par with the Filipino horror comicbook that I was reading. In fact, I only researched through Wikipedia, as well as Pop Sugar for the differences the show made from the book. But after hearing some news bits about the show on Facebook, about a year or so after that day, I eventually decided to list it down under my "To Watch" list, and finally, a good old classmate of mine gave me the complete collection.

I love the narrative structure that the show employed, wherein for every episode, we get to explore one reason, and how that person's actions have forced Hannah to commit suicide. Provided the usual thirteen episode format that Netflix uses for almost all of their original programs, we get to see how their actions have truly affected Hannah. In addition to that, each of the thirteen reasons are given larger rooms to grow into three-dimensional characters. The usage of teen mystery elements are also effective as well, as you are left constantly at the edge of your seat, wondering what these people did to Hannah.

While doing this review, I did my homework and took a look at what the original story offered, although I only looked at summaries. So far, I can say that the show does a better job at bringing Hannah Baker's tale to life. I am very sorry Mister Asher, but I have plenty of reasons why (Ba-dum-tss) this is so. I may be that type of person who would want to have superbly accurate adaptations, but I can tell if one project, changes or no changes at all, lives-up to the original, or better yet, surpasses it, delivering new things to the table.

The one change that I love the most, aside from providing the story a much more contemporary take by adding technology, diversity, and other concepts, is that there are actual thrills. In the book, Clay did a late-night marathon of all of Hannah's tapes, and with a limited time frame, none of the "reasons" are exactly keen on trying to cover-up their misdeeds. The show, however, made almost all of the tape subjects into foils for Clay's journey to the truth, which makes for a much more, ironically, entertaining, personal, and interesting story, than a tale about one character's nightlong playlist jam session.

Another great change to the source material is the additional exploration on how Clay, listening to the tapes affects him emotionally and psychologically. In the book, we were only treated to an audio diary format of a story, while here, we see everything from more than just thru Hannah's eyes, and this change only made the central unrequited love story between Clay and Hannah.

This leads us to feel bad for Clay when he feels so guilt-driven from listening to his own tape in the eleventh episode, "Tape 6, Side A" (directed by Jessica Yu, and written by Diana Son), especially when he imagined the scenario, La La Land style. He imagined what could have been had he persuaded Hannah to let him help her, after Hannah lashed-out at him when she had a flashback of Justin and others while they were having an intimate moment.

Also, that one pivotal scene could not have ever been as effective as it is if it were not for the believable and powerful chemistry between Dylan Minette and Katherine Langford. Kudos to the two of you, guys! Even the rest of the cast are not far behind, with each one of them pulling-off remarkable dramatic roles. Kudos to the rest of you as well for making me either hate your fictional roles, or relating to your characters. (The committee should give Minnette an Emmy for his remarkable work in that one scene in the seventh episode, wherein he did an outrageous monologue expressing his rage towards those who had done wrong to Hannah, in front of exchange students)

Among all of the "reasons", me and Dad would agree that it is Brandon Flynn's wonderfully acted Justin Foley, who comes close as the second person to have the most compelling character development. If I am not mistaken, we did not delve too much into Justin's life in the book, but here, we get to know a whole lot more about him. In the first episode, "Tape 1, Side A" (directed by Tom McCarthy, and written by Brian Yorkey), we are introduced to Foley as Hannah's first reason, and in that episode, Hannah and Justin briefly dated, only for Justin to leak a scandalizing image of Hannah during their date night at their town's playground, and even adding a rumor about the two having a sexual encounter during that night. Over the course of the show, we initially see him as one broken spirit just determined to bring Clay's avenging crusade to a halt, but he is actually more than that.

But by the time we get to the ninth episode, "Tape 5, Side A" (directed by Carl Franklin, and written by Hayley Tyler), we learn that Justin is an unfortunate victim of a horrible household. When Justin gets an unexpected part two, wherein we learn that Justin allowed his abusive best friend, Justin Prentice's Bryce Walker, to rape his then-girlfriend, Alisha Boe's Jessica David, during a party, we now see Justin more than just Clay's foil, but a lost soul torn between his loyalty to his spoiled close friend, who has given him so many gifts out of care, and someone who was always there for him when his family was not, and his willingness to at least try to be a better person to Jessica.

Another character who had brilliant character development is Miles Heizer's sympathetic Alex Standall, who, like Jessica Davis, was originally a best friend of Hannah Baker, as seen in the second episode, "Tape 1, Side B" (directed by Tom McCarthy, and written by Brian Yorkey), until he started dating Jessica, prior to Jessica being with Justin. Again, we are initially introduced to a slightly unlikable wannabe cool kid, but in the episode revolving around him, "Tape 2, Side A" (directed by Helen Shaver, and written by Diana Son), wherein he made a "Best or Worst List" list, labeling Hannah as the student with the best butt in school, in order to be both popular, and to make Jessica envious, we realize that he is not completely bad, and his development in further episodes prove that. And thanks to Heizer's appealing performance, Alex is made one of the more likable "reasons". He also actively tries to redeem himself at times, even picking a fight with another bully, Montgomery de la Cruz, played by Timothy Granaderos (t@gged), in the sixth episode, "Tape 3, Side B" (directed by Kyle Patrick Alvarez, and written by Nic Sheff), and it really is unfortunate that he shot himself (?) by the end of the season. Remember, spoiler alert.

But the one other character, among the "reasons", that I actually grew to hate, aside from Bryce Walker, obviously, is Courtney Crimsen, played by Michele Selene Ang in her debut performance. Like Justin, Courtney did not get that much character development as she did in the show, as in the book, she was just a simple straight, good girl-type friend of Hannah who decided to spread rumors against Hannah. In "Tape 3, Side A" (directed by Kyle Patrick Alvarez, and written by Julia Bicknell), Courtney is a highly popular closeted lesbian, who decided to make Hannah look like a flirtatious lady in order to keep her sexual orientation a secret, since she fears that a recent leak of a picture of her and Hannah kissing during a game of truth or dare could cause her to be discriminated.

To be frank, I love how they made Courtney's character much more interesting. Not only did they inject some diversity in order to fit a more modern context, with that topic to be expanded later on, Courtney's reasons for her actions are actually realistic, and are much more clearly defined here.

Another "reason" who we consider as one of the more intriguing characters in the show include as Devin Druid's weird Tyler Down, who, as revealed in "Tape 2, Side B", was secretly pining for Hannah's affections, but is unable to do so because he assumes that "no one would ever date the yearbook guy". Ross Butler's misguided Zach Dempsey is also a highlight, and while his character is not as deeply layered as any of the other aforementioned "reasons", he stands out for being one of the few who the audience can sympathize with, like Alex. Steven Silver's Marcus Cole is also an interesting, albeit underwhelming, character, and his contribution to being one of Clay's more persistent foes, even going as far as to frame him for having possession of marijuana, is a plus point.

Special mentions would also go to Bryce Walker and Sherri Holland, played by Ajiona Alexus (Empire). Bryce's menacing presence adds to a large collection of multilayered characters, and Sheri is one character that you could relate to, as she tries her best to be a trustworthy person in Clay's eyes. Her story also just shows how one little accident can cause a chain of unwanted events.

Also, the part when Bryce beat Clay several times after Clay forced him to confess his rape of Hannah, in "Tape 6, Side B" (directed by Jessica Yu, and written by Elizabeth Benjamin) ... Wow ... You are now officially my most hated character on television, Bryce Walker.

Even if me and Dad will shower this show with a reasonable amount of praise, the show is not without its detractors. Like most Netflix shows, it suffers from something that most veteran binge-watchers out there have come to call as "Netflix Drag", referring to the amount of filler evident in several of their original programs. Unfortunately, similar to Jessica Jones, another show we are currently binge-watching, Thirteen Reasons Why also suffers from that flaw, and for me, this becomes more apparent by the time we reach "Tape 4, Side B" (directed by Gregg Araki, and written by Kirk Moore), wherein we are treated for an episode-long pep talk between Clay and Tony Padilla, his sort-of guardian angel acting on Hannah's posthumous wishes. Yes, one whole episode is about them, mountain climbing for motivation, but I will say that in some parts, it was funny and heartwarming.

In addition to the episodes being, at some points, slow, never has there been an episode wherein no one cried. We watched all thirteen episodes, and take a look for yourself. The subplot concerning the lawsuit that the Bakers have filed against the school for not properly helping Hannah also dragged down the pace. For a few episodes, it seemed like that part of the show is an eye-opening and heartbreaking look at how suicide can negatively affect the family of the victim. However, once you hear the somewhat tinkered preacher's speech on suicide in each episode, and by preacher I mean Kate Walsh's Olivia Baker, you might not mind reading the summaries of each episode in the Internet. Do not get me wrong, Walsh delivered one of the most emotional heart-wrecking performances in small screen yet, especially in the thirteenth episode, but can they make things a tad bit faster? Character development is good, but not when it annoyingly makes the length sluggish.

We did mention awhile back that the show falls into both categories of "pandering" and "compelling". It also finds itself in the "try hard" category. And all the pieces of evidence that suggest that the show is clearly pandering to the modern audiences at large is by far its biggest flaw, with the inconsistent handling of its complex and mature themes being the second, and the somewhat snailed, dramatic pace being its third mistake.

Let us first go with the times that proves that the show tries too hard to make a compelling insider's look at today's most controversial topics. No doubt, suicide is among them, and we already mentioned about how the show tends to be preachy, with some of these being clear in the lawsuit subplot. But me and Dad found the revelation that Derek Luke's Kevin Porter, the councilor for their high school, ended-up being the thirteenth and final reason somewhat confusing. I get that Mister Porter was technically ineffective, but Dad believes that we should consider the fact that chances are that Hannah is also at fault.

Okay, this one is complicated, and it can be justified that Hannah is too far down to be actually comfortable in opening up about her concerns, but had she been more direct to Mister Porter's questions, then both parties might have returned home happy. Mister Porter frequently asked about who raped her or was she forced to do it, and the fact that Hannah did not defend her stance made the scene morally and ideally conflicting. Yes, as a councilor, Mister Porter should have followed her outside his office, instead of returning the phone calls that frequently interrupted their session, and the series is aiming to elaborate that sometimes councilors can be irresponsible, but the blame cannot be placed on him exclusively by Clay. Basically, both were at fall here.

Also, it is possible that he might not have immediately reported the matter to the authorities because it might worsen Hannah's situation. For example, if a person has something so serious like cancer for example, would you tell that to immediately to others or to the entire school? Of course not, and given this analogy, Mister Porter might be fearing that people would label her simply as a rape victim.

Also, I was upset when I saw Hannah's wrist-slitting scene in full graphic manner. I actually walked out of the room when it was displayed on my television screen, and I was noticeably disturbed by what I was beholding. In the words of Dad, "we live in an age of graphic everything". What I mean to say is, there could have been a better, less graphic way of showing that suicide is not a joke, with the consequences being shown in the next scene, which is done when her parents found her dead body. While it was every bit effective, to the point that probably even others would no longer consider suicide as a solution, most especially the next scene, scenes such as this are just way too much for the audiences to handle.

We are also introduced to another controversial topic, rape. While I did not get to do as much research on rape as I did with the central topic, the show did a somewhat fine job at making me see the terrible reality of rape. It just goes to show at how rape, and one that is simply forced to be ignored, can affect those who suffer psychologically. I do find it questionable that Jessica, who was raped by Bryce, tried to be as close as possible to him.

Its addition of various LGBTQ characters is a plus for me, because hey, when did a little bit of diversity hurt anybody? However, as we have frequently mentioned before or so, forced diversity can be bothersome. And yes, I know that. I write stories in my spare time, and one criticism I get from one of my works is that it is trying too hard to be diverse, and the same goes for this shows. But actually, as evidenced by emotional response to Courtney's surprisingly dark character development, and the alteration of her being a closeted lesbian, this is one of the few instances wherein diversity is actually integral to the characters. Now that is the kind of diversity that most modern works have been missing. This show did not directly tell the audience in expository form about their characters, but the audience was allowed to explore them individually, making each of them into realistic figures.

It is at its most forced in the characters of Tony, and Tommy Dorfman's Ryan Shaver, with that latter being the eighth reason and for me, has added nothing to the story except being an unlikable foil. Again, the series made their gender preferences essential to the characters, but all the scenes of Tony, who for some reason, is barely around to actually help Clay, talking about his homosexuality feels forced. This is but a mild complaint for me, so take this thought with a pinch of salt.

And lastly, we have come to the biggest flaw of the show, and that it is very, very, very apparent that the series, as a whole, is clearly aiming to hop on the bandwagon of current trending issues. This is not to say that the show was bad or completely ineffective, as we have already established that it is not, plus they did a good job in making people aware of the issues, but the very fact that they are employing the use of various themes in order to get viewers, and only secondly are they aiming to spread awareness.

There are two major pieces of evidence that prove this point, and those are Alex Standall's suicide attempt, and Devin Druid's plan for a high school shooting. Yep, you read that right. I will admit that his story arc does seem incomplete, and could use an actual conclusion, but seriously, they called this program Thirteen Reasons Why for a good reason, not "Twenty-Six Reasons Why". Also, a school shooting? A timely topic sure, but if I am not mistaken, there is only one book under the Thirteen Reasons Why book series.

But despite these flaws, it was overall an ironically awesome, powerfully acted, thought-provoking, and all around disturbing take on modern teenage issues, and this truly is a must see for everyone, but parents be cautious!

Wow. This show just blew me away. I know it has flaws, but it was just remarkable. Even if I do not like the idea of a second season, I am interested at seeing what others stories that are in store. Stories beyond Hannah Baker's tapes. And that concludes our first ever binge watch. With projects and lectures ahoy, it would seem that we might be delayed for a long time. But hey, we will find a way.

Also, we now officially have another blog, and it is called Chasing Scarlet. Click the name to visit, in case you want to check it out. For those who are interested, it is an ongoing original episodic short story series that also serves as a project of sorts for our Empowering Technology class. To make the long story short, this was supposed to be a movie script, but my inexperienced mind could not produce a proper one. We do hope that you support that project as much as you guys support Dateline Movies.

And please, join us in our prayer as Mom's best friend's 4-month old daughter is suffering from a serious and rare liver disease, and the only possible treatment for her is a liver transplant which costs more than a million pesos. If you are willing to donate, please send your donations to any of the following bank accounts. Your help is greatly appreciated! You can also reach her parents through these contact numbers.

Rhaney Gempesaw (Father): 0999-939-8637                                  Tessa Gempesaw (Mother): 0928-460-7809

BPI 3726841514

Metrobank 609-3-609-88790-8

AUB Asia United Bank 107-03-000030-3

Before you guys officially leave, aside from checking that site out, listen to Selena Gomez's song for the show, and since this is a post about suicide, take the time to listen to a song about such topic, by rising star Logic, featuring Alessia Cara and Khalid. Remember, suicide is never good, and we at Dateline Movies want to tell those who are in need of help that they are not alone, and that they can overcome whatever challenges they are facing right now. Stay tuned for more Dateline Movies!

Suicide Hotline Numbers:

Call - 804 4673 (HOPE)

PLDT - (02)-804 4673 (HOPE)
Mobile - 0917-558-4673 (HOPE)
Toll Free 2919 for TM and Globe Subscribers

United States of America:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Call 1 800 273 8255

France Suicide Hotlines

Boite Postale 43,
Cedex 92101

Contact by: - Phone 
Hotline: 01 46 21 46 46


    Mon, Tues, Wed, Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun: 15:00 - 23:00


Contact by: - Phone 
Hotline: 01 45 39 40 00


    Mon, Tues, Wed, Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun: 00:00 - 23:00

E.P.E. idF. Fil Sante Jeunes 

Contact by: - Phone  - E-mail: 
Hotline: 0800 235 236

Fédération S.O.S Amitié France 
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Contact by: - Phone 
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