By Brigid Walshe `19
After the immediate success of some of its original series, such as House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, Netflix has put more focus—and money—into producing their own original shows. In 2017 alone, Netflix is planning on spending $6 billion on 20 new original series, one being 13 Reasons Why, based on the young adult novel Thirteen Reasons Why written by Jay Asher.
The novel is centered on the suicide of Hannah Baker and the reasons behind it. Hannah leaves behind cassette tapes, each centered on an individual who played a role in her death. She leaves Clay, who had a crush on her, in charge of the cassettes, and Clay pieces together the mystery of her death throughout the novel.
Of course, the subject of this novel is very dark and mature for a young adult book, yet it discussed topics of life and death that are difficult for young adults to talk about and more importantly, gives a prime example of how treatment of others impacts their lives. The book has been given numerous awards and accolades, including a spot on The New York Times Best Sellers list and it was named one of the “Best Books for Young Adults” in 2008.
More importantly, the novel has made a direct impact on fans reading it. Author Jay Asher has said that he receives many reader emails and is thrilled that this book has made a difference in so many lives. Therefore, after such a success, it was only a matter of time until the book would be adapted to the screen.
Universal Pictures originally bought the rights for the film back in 2011, and cast Selena Gomez as Hannah, the main character. The movie was put on standstill until 2015, when Netflix announced its plan to make it into a miniseries, with Selena Gomez signing on to be the executive producer.
Gomez, who took some time off from the industry for physical and mental health reasons, has stated that she is emotionally attached to the project, saying, “Kids have to see something that’s frightening, I want them to understand I definitely relate to everything.” Although the cast is mostly newcomers, the team behind the production is pretty impressive.
The series is directed by Tom McCarthy, who was the director of the film Spotlight, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture at last year’s Oscars. The creator and writer of the series, Brian Yorkey, is both a Tony and Pulitzer Prize winner. Hopefully, behind the guidance of these professionals, the show can do the book and its message of justice.
More importantly, this could add to the list of Netflix originals that have received critical acclaim. This is a big year for Netflix, and hopefully 13 Reasons Why can prove that Netflix’s shows will continue to impress audiences now and in the future.