10 August 2017

Thirteen Reasons Why // Where I Watched The TV Show

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As I said in my review for the book, the TV show is what motivated me to pick up the book in the first place. I was also aware of the problematic nature of the show. It probably should have put me off but I have heard positive things said about it by some so I decided to give it a chance as I did like the message of the book (the one I think the author intended for it to make) of how your actions have consequences and to put good in the world.

I wanted to examine the TV show. These are purely my opinions on what I watched. I did found the show to be just as quick as the book and it was addictive viewing. You wanted one episode more. I want to examine what the show itself was like, though. What was done well? What wasn’t? And what made me question the sanity of the producers as it should never have made it to screen? It is spoiler filled, I will not claim otherwise so be warned!

The Good

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I knew the TV show would have differences to the book. It was to be expected as the book is quite a short read. To properly adapt it to screen things would have to be altered and it had to have more added to it to really have the same impact as the book. I do think the writing of the show was good. Now, Clay doesn’t simply listen to the tapes over one night but instead over the course of days and he no longer compulsively listens but is hesitant and struggles with what he hears. I liked this change to him as it does fit in with the nice guy persona he has. He isn’t eager to listen to the voice of a dead girl who says she has sent out tapes to those she blames for her suicide. He wouldn’t be eager to hear her reasons why as he is mourning her loss still.

I also liked the storyline of Hannah’s parents and their lawsuit against Hannah’s school. I enjoyed the entire storyline about how bullying is prevalent in the school and not enough is done to prevent it. It is almost allowed and the toxic culture of bullying encouraged as those who are popular and doing the bullying are sports stars and athletes. It added another element to the TV show and meant that although I knew the basic storyline there were still things there to surprise me and make the show feel it’s own.

I really liked the fact the impact the tapes had on people was explored far more because it was a shitty thing to do. I never liked how Hannah made those tapes and pointed fingers over who was to blame for her choice. I understand that things built up for her choice and the tapes were a good way of exploring that whilst having everything set in the aftermath of her suicide but I felt like there should have been a greater mental impact on those who listened to them. You definitely get to see that in the show. Clay suffered from anxiety and seeing how the tapes made that worse for him was really smart. And the other characters, as well. you see how the tapes later affect their actions and the choices they make. It was intelligent and I do respect the show for not making it seem like listening to the tapes of a dead girl would be easy.

I totally love the show for giving my the character of Tony, as well. He was in the book and he did also have the tapes in the books to send out if anyone didn’t follow through. He played a far bigger part in the show, though. He was there supporting Hannah’s parents in their lawsuit and he played a big part in supporting Clay, as well. It was obvious Clay struggled with what he listened to and I really enjoyed seeing a support system develop for Clay as he appeared to have few friends. Tony was such a great character. He wasn’t perfect but he was so easy to like and so I loved that he got to play a big part.

The Bad

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The changes weren’t all good, though. I really liked one scene in the book where Hannah got a photo with Courtney (I think it was her anyway) and you see Hannah getting her own back in a small way. I liked that little photo snippet and I was annoyed it was gone. It was the same with another alteration, the One Dollar Valentine’s thing was slightly different. Clay never got Hannah on his list because he did it in character and I wanted that. I wanted it to not be Clay was too chicken to call her but that she simply wasn’t on his list. That alteration changes how you see Clay and I didn’t like that.

I also felt like that because the show was made to take place over a longer period of time and you see the characters in their everyday lives far more that most came across far worse than they did in the book. I mean, the show and the book are filled with terrible people but I felt like I disliked them more in the show because I saw more of them. I mean, Jessica seems like a bitch and her boyfriend Justin was awful. I didn’t like seeing the cliquey thing that was going on.

I also didn’t like that everyone seemed to know about the tapes. That they created a gang to bully Clay because they didn’t want the contents of the tapes to come out and impact them and their lives. It fed into the bullying culture that was obviously prevalent in the school but it also meant that Clay seemed to have a worse time of it and the experience of listening to them was worse.

I know in the book there was no mention of mental health and about how Hannah was obviously suffering from depression or other mental health problems to lead to her decision but I hoped the show would do something to improve upon that. After all, when the book was released less was said about mental health and the book was revolutionary for discussing suicide at all let alone broaching the subject of mental health. Yet, not one word was mentioned that even implied any mental health problems with Hannah. Sure, there are hints of it such as how her moods were either way up or way down and she did showcase signs of suicidal thoughts but never was there mention of there being more to it and that annoyed me.

The Ugly

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Look, my biggest issue with the show is how graphic it was with everything. Both rape and suicide occur so it was never going to be sunshine and rainbows but as a show targeted at a teen audience I don’t think it should have been as full on as it was. I felt incredibly uncomfortable in the rape scenes, far too much was shown. I think seeing less and having it occur more off camera could have had the same impact without being so triggering for many who watched because it was a damned uncomfortable watch.

That suicide scene, though! There were warnings on the episodes where graphic things happen when they could be triggering but as the episodes are long by the time the scenes appear it’s not enough. And the suicide was far too much. It made me feel physically ill and I have a friend who is extremely uncomfortable with anything which involves the cutting of the wrists and I would have told her to stop watching so for anyone who felt the same way would definitely of found that scene triggering. It would have been better to fade out and see the after math of her being discovered. I was too uncomfortable to find it emotional like I should have done. And considering it shows her cutting her wrists in a way which causes maximum blood loss that should never have been shown. It was just awful and I was expecting it so I can only imagine what it would have been like if you’d started the show based on everyone talking about it.

***

The show wasn’t as bad as I expected but it could have done far more to maximise the impact. I will probably watch season 2 as I am interested in the next direction it will go but it’s much like the book, I could never recommend it to others.

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