Despite hitting Netflix almost two weeks ago, 13 Reasons Why — a 13-episode series based on Jay Asher’s hit young adult novel by the same name — continues to gain steam among viewers and has already smashed Twitter records. The series reached 3.4 million tweets, with 200,000 in just one hour alone, immediately following its March 30 release.
13 Reasons Why centers on the contents of 13 cassette tapes left behind by high school student Hannah Baker, who ends her life shortly before said tapes are sent to 13 of her peers — those she holds accountable for fueling her decision to commit suicide.
The show reins viewers in, delivering an intimate portrayal of the all-too-common high school experience, which in this case, includes bullying, slut-shaming and sexual assault, among other themes. Select scenes are understandably difficult to get through, but the show’s message is vital, exploring the ripple effect bullying has on all areas of life, including mental health.
“It hits a very important part in me, and I think this is what they need to see,” revealed Selena Gomez, one of the executive producers on the show, candidly sharing her own bullying experience growing up in the limelight.
Below, a few reasons why you should be adding 13 Reasons Why to your weekend plans.
Our show @13reasonswhy came out tonight and I couldn't be more overwhelmed with pride and joy. After 7 years of holding onto this book, I couldn't of picked a better time for this message to exist. Jay Asher wrote a beautifully tragic, compelling story and we were lucky to have brought it to life. Thank you to every single soul that put their heart into this passion project
It’s meant to serve as ‘a cautionary tale.’
Author Asher revealed in an interview with Entertainment Weekly that when he first began writing his 2007 novel, he was going to have Hannah survive her suicide attempt. However, the author obviously changed his mind, thinking her suicide would leave a more lasting impact on readers.
“Out of seriousness for the issue, we realized we can’t go there,” he explained. “No matter that there were missed opportunities for her. Those opportunities aren’t there if you do this. Once I realized that the message of the story would be stronger and that it would definitely be more of a cautionary tale. I felt that was definitely the way to go.”
Gomez echoed Asher’s sentiments in a different interview, stating: “[Kids] have to see something that’s going to scare them. They need to see something that’s frightening.”
Gomez personally relates to the show’s core message.
The singer-actress took her role as executive producer very seriously, and has spoken about her affinity for the heartbreaking, yet very relatable, plot and characters. “I see myself as Hannah so much,” Gomez told The Hollywood Reporter. “I wanted it to feel like anyone can see themselves in this.”
Viewers are bound to connect with the show’s protagonist.
“I want [kids] to understand it,” Gomez told The Hollywood Reporter, also citing her 90-day hiatus from the spotlight. “I would do anything to be able to have a good influence on this generation, but I definitely relate to everything that was going on. I was there for the last episode, and I was a mess just seeing it all come to life, because I’ve experienced that.”
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It’s a serious passion project that began years ago.
Gomez was originally cast to star as Hannah in a movie adaptation of the novel back in 2011 but explained why she chose to stay behind the cameras, saying, “A book is frightening for me because I know the cult following it has, which is the reason why I didn’t want to be in it.”
Fans are already petitioning for a season 2.
And Asher is as eager for it to happen, too. “I’m curious as well,” he explained to EW. “What happens to Clay? How do people react to what Alex did at the very end? What’s going to happen to Mr. Porter? I’d thought of a sequel at some point. I’d brainstormed it, but decided I wasn’t going to write it. So I’d love to see it.”
13 Reasons Why is available now on Netflix.