13 Reasons Why: 9 Reasons It Ultimately Fails

The show's attempts at tackling tough subject matter are admirable, but not successful.

13 Reasons Why Hannah Baker Poster

13 Reasons Why is already the most tweeted about TV series of the year so far, and it doesn't take 13 tapes and the Sherlock Holmesing of Clay Jensen to figure out why.

The series tackles subjects rarely put on screen, in teen suicide and rape, and frames them around a mysterious premise: Hannah Baker, a teenage girl, has killed herself, which is how the show opens, and left behind a series of tapes for her classmates explaining the part each of them played in her suicide.

You can immediately see why a show tackling that subject is going to get people - and especially teenagers - talking, and it's certainly admirable to even attempt to take on those themes when so few shows try to. You can also see areas where it works: the cast, a mix of unknowns for the kids and established, recognisable names and faces for the adults, is solid, and there's some really interesting directing going on. And, of course, being a Netflix series it does lend itself to some compulsive binge-watching.

The issue is that this isn't just a binge-watching show, because of those subjects it takes on. It needs to do a lot more than that, and have a lot more to say. It works on a very basic, superficial 'here's a new Netflix series' level, and 'here are these tough subjects', but beyond that (where it really needs to work) it falls pretty flat (contains spoilers).


NCTJ-qualified journalist. Most definitely not a racing driver. Drink too much tea; eat too much peanut butter; watch too much TV. Sadly only the latter paying off so far. A mix of wise-old man in a young man's body with a child-like wonder about him and a great otherworldly sensibility.