★★★☆☆ – Worth a Watch!
Based on the 2007 young adult novel, ’Thirteen Reasons Why” has its heart in the right place, but fails to achieve the emotional impact it rightly deserves.
Straight off the bat, there are a number of factors that need to be commended. It’s an accurate and detailed look at teenagers and their problems as they navigate the minefield that is high school. From issues such as depression, sexual identity and the associated guilt and shame, right down to the age appropriate impact of adolescent emotions, there is no sense of trivializing from the creators. The show successfully transcends the mold of angsty teenage TV romances and sets its roots firmly in the drama genre with an interesting premise. ’Thirteen Reasons Why’ is also structurally ambitious in its complexity of intertwining, non-linear plots lines as characters and situations are revealed via recorded accounts on cassette tapes. Hipsters rejoice.
The biggest problem is the length. As the show struggles to keep the narrative of the novel within the 13 part structure, a lot of filler needs to be created to sustain the roughly 60-minute runtime of each episode. This is unfortunate since the dramatic flow of the story is interrupted and what remains is dull, repetitious and uninspired scenes. It almost feels like you are watching the same episode over and over again. I suspect that this wasn’t a problem with the novel.
This could be a compelling and effectively emotional story had it been whittled down to a more manageable five or six part mini-series. 13 episodes? Bad. Renewed for a second season? Baaaaaaaad.