Netflix’s ’13 Reasons Why’ is the new teen drama that you need in your life

As a kid, TV shows based on teenage dramas fascinated me. They were a portal into the world of the young adults. High school cliques, sneaking boyfriends, terrorizing girlfriends and teachers with a mysterious past — I couldn’t wait to see it all for myself. Then, I grew up and actually went to high school, and boy, was I disappointed.

Even now, there’s something mysteriously charming about teenage dramas. Some can be a little too intense. But some shows — and these come by rarely — are often a great way to treat yourself to some escapism. Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why,” which premieres Friday, has the potential to be one of the greatest.

Based on Jay Asher’s book of the same name, “13 Reasons Why” is “The Lovely Bones” meets “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.” It is the story of a teenage girl and the 13 people she claims are responsible for her suicide. Add in the charming Dylan Minnette playing her classmate and love interest, and you have the foundations for every high school drama.

So far, the story might sound like a million others that you’ve read, watched and heard about, but there is something that makes this different, it’s how realistic the characters are. Sure, you have your mean girls and your jocks, but you also have your average teens struggling to find a place for themselves without much dramatic effect.

And you will see the deep-rooted simplicity of the characters in that of Clay, played by Minnette. Clay may not be the protagonist, but he is responsible for carrying the story ahead, especially — spoiler alert — when he receives a shoebox full of cassettes, each labeled after how people who our protagonist, Hannah, claims led to her death.

Even with a dark and heartbreaking theme, this shows promises to occasionally keep things light-hearted. It focuses on Hannah and Clay’s friendship and why Hannah trusted Clay enough to bestow upon him the real reason for her killing herself. Sometimes, all you want to do is watch young love blossom in all its innocence, even though you know young love is anything but innocent.

“13 Reasons Why” is the classic mix of decent production and a story that is good enough. Its cast makes it great. It includes former-teen drama alumni such as Ross Butler from “Riverdale,” Justin Prentice from “Awkward” and Miles Heizer from “Parenthood.” Being former teen stars probably makes them know how not to make a teen show stereotypical.

Many shows before have tried venturing into a similar kind of genre within the wide one of teen drama, but not many survived to see glory. Shows like “Switched at Birth” promised to be a success, but it fell into the web of used storylines and plots similar to most other teen dramas. And, while supernaturally fueled shows like “The Vampire Diaries” are grabbing and maintaining everyone’s attention, “13 Reasons Why” wants to reel us back into appreciating human nature as it is. After all, this show is all about how people behave and how their behavior affects other people.

If you’re tired of seeing teens with eccentric habits and quirky characteristics, this is the show to watch. Not to hate on John Green, but not everyone finds the love of their life as a teen, and then goes on a wild-goose chase to find them on a map full of whimsical clues. “13 Reasons Why” is the simple story of a girl who wants to live, but decides not to.

Oh, and did I mention the show is produced by Selena Gomez? If it’s good enough for Selena, it’s good enough for you.

Malvika Randive is a freshman majoring in writing and rhetoric. Her column appears weekly in Pulp. You can reach her at


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