1. Hello, This Is Your Tape
“Hello, boys and girls. Hannah Baker here. Live and in stereo. No return engagements. No encore. And this time, absolutely no requests.”
Hannah Baker was 17 years old in 2017, which means she was born in 2000. Just take a second to take that in. She does not even belong in the CD/walkman generation. Hannah was most likely an iPod nano girl.
The fact that she was recording her last words on cassette audio tapes really says it all.
What reads more into your old soul than poetry?
Although Hannah’s poetry career is brief, it is still powerful. In reality the whole tapes are meant to be poetry. Narrating her emotions of her truth. That’s all poetry really is. What you feel to be real. Ryan was right. Hannah was totally a “journal girl”.
3. ‘I am more of a paperback write in the margins kind of girl’
Hannah’s response when asked if she owned a Kindle. What seems to be a career fair at school, Hannah is drawn to the literature section. Although she admits she believes it is a “dying industry”. “Do journalist even exist anymore?” Hannah, you are not alone. All writers in this day and age feel this way. You were just born in the wrong time.
4. They Pass Notes
For a show based in 2017 there is a lot of pen and paper action, and I am fan! The only piece of gossip that circulated electronically was the 2 photos of Hannah. The “Hot List” was written on pen and paper. The poem, they could recognize Hannah’s handwriting. The compliment box, where they would all handwrite anonymous compliments to each other.
5. Lost And Found
The school newspaper (that isn’t exactly associated with the school, but that is just a technicality) is created mostly by hand. It is written with a pen and paper, including some hand-drawn illustrations. That is right it is not electronic! It isn’t even typed! It has the authenticity of an arts and crafts project. It isn’t tainted by spell check, SEO, or “likes”. It is real, made with ink stains, sweat, and tears.
6. Scarlet Letter
The Scarlet letter theme is prominent. It is a classic tale of how a teared reputation ruined a girl.
7. Troubled Bad Boy, With A Secret Heart Of Gold.
Okay, don’t hate me if you have not finished all the tapes yet. Hurry up, this is a spoiler (don’t be Clay).
Justin is the real MVP in 13 Reasons Why. I know, hear me out before you judge. He seems like the typically bad boy popular guy, we all love to hate. He is much more than that. Not to be insensitive, but Justin was the one with the real problems. In high school you can chose your friends, but you can never chose your family.
Justin’s father is completely out of the picture. His mother seems to be a recovering drug addict, who still relapses from time to time. His mother’s boyfriend, basically uses Justin as a physical and emotional punching bag. While this is all going down, he is still the star of the basket ball team, dating the cheerleader. He is the guy everyone is jealous of. He seems to have it “all”, but he doesn’t even have a place to live.
8. Boys Will Be Boys
The oldest theme in the book, “Boys Will Be Boys”. Alex genuinely likes Hannah and he genuinely likes Jess. But, boys will be boys….Looking “cool” in front of the guys is more important than his relationships with Hannah and Jess.
By creating his notrious “Hot List”, he causes a divide between Hannah and Jess. Nothing can ruin a girl’s friendship more than jealousy. It’s sad…because nothing was accomplished by this. Hannah becomes a sexual joke. Jess becomes crazy insecure. Alex loses both of them, and gains a bunch of idiotic “bros” he never wanted to be friends with in the first place. Can you say? Lose, Lose, Lose.
9. Good Girl, Gone Bad
No, I am not talking about Hannah Baker for once. This one is for you Jess.
Jess is the epitome of the mighty has fallen. Cheerleader, Popular, Dating the basket ball star, what more could she have wanted? Well all she wanted was to forget… This is where I am sorry to say, I really don’t get Hannah.
I don’t blame Hannah or even Justin for what happened to Jess. There was only one person clearly at fault, which is Bryce. Yet, I will say I am mildly disappointed in Hannah. Throughout the series she proclaims “Why Me?”, well for the first time Hannah you were not alone in this. Jess went through exactly what you did, actually she went through it first. Am I the only person who was yelling at the TV screen? “HANNAH, WHY ARE YOU IN THE HOT TUB WITH BRYCE!?!” Do I think Hannah deserved that? No. Do I think Hannah “wanted” Bryce? Absolutely not. Do I think Hannah Baker is naive? Yes.
10. Hannah And Clay Work In A Movie Theatre
In a world of Netflix and Chill who actually goes to the movies these days? As Hannah Baker said “everything old is better right?”.
Clay and Hannah’s will they, won’t they romance, embodies everything a first crush should be. It is the stare before the kiss, that never happened. It’s that awkward wave good bye, should we hug? How do we end this night moment? It is that talking all night getting to know each other feeling. It’s that first feeling that a friend can be more.
11. Your Past Coming Back To Haunt You
The past is never really in the past…especially not in high school. It is heartbreaking to watch this perfect moment fall apart. The moment we have all been waiting for…11 episodes in Clay finally makes a move!
“At that moment everything was perfect. For the first time in a long time, I can imagine a future that is happy. How good life can be, and I know you felt it too. I wanted you to do everything you were doing. So I don’t know why my mind took me everywhere else. And I thought of every other guy, and they all became you”.
This is the problem with suppressing your emotions, even when you are happy you can’t feel it. When you chose to become numb, that is all you are. Hannah is so haunted by her past, she can’t truly believe finally something “good” is happening. Hannah self-sabotages, to shield herself from what she believes will just eventually turn into “pain”. She breaks her own heart, before any boy can.
12. Damsel In Distress, Waiting To Be Saved.
“You sit there in your heartache, waiting on some beautiful boy, to save you from your old ways”.
A sufficient piece of the story revolves around Hannah and Clay’s relationship. Ultimately Clay feels guilty for “killing Hannah Baker”. Clay feels Hannah died, because he was “too afraid to love her”. I don’t think this was intentionally the main message of the show, however that is what came across. Fundamentally, I feel like it was a lot of “little things” that immensely snowballed. Yet, the theme of “saving” can not be ignored. A lot of the times Hannah looked for someone to save her, but she never tried to save herself. Clay was that picture perfect hero for Hannah. The most tragic thing of all, Hannah didn’t believe she deserved someone like Clay. Hannah felt she would ruin him.
“You aren’t every other guy. You are different, good, kind, and decent, and I didn’t deserve to be with someone like you. I never would, I would have ruined you. It wasn’t you, it was me, and everything that has happened to me.”
This is bittersweet. A love that could now, never be. As depressing as these last words are, it should free Clay. This was Hannah, “it wasn’t you, it was ME”. No matter how much we love someone we can’t always save them. Love isn’t always enough. I know that isn’t what you want to hear, but it is true. It is as true as Hannah’s death.
13. Based On A Book
Like all that is good in the world ,“13 Reasons Why” is based on a book. You can feel the poetry in the dialogue. The emotions in their tone. When reading a book, you picture all of this in your mind. What Hannah would look like? How Clay would look at her. When books become live action it answers all of these questions. Sometimes we prefer our own imagination, but all and all it was pretty beautiful.
What I enjoyed most was the dedication of each tape. Although Hannah was clearly the protagonist of the show. We had a whole hour to feel for another character that was not Hannah. Each episode was like reading a different chapter in Hannah’s life.
Hannah’s final words gave everyone a second chance of life. The tapes proved we aren’t alone. Everyone was going through something, that someone else did not know of. In a way the tapes brought most of them together, it forced them to face the truth. Almost everything in life can be ignored, if you let it. The second that denial is said out loud, it’s over, it’s out, you are free. The facade fades and you can finally be real.