Hannah Baker had a story to tell. And when 13 Reasons Why hit Netflix in March, the internet couldn’t stop talking about it. Three weeks after the show’s release, it had become the most tweeted-about TV series of 2017, with 11 million tweets. Whether it’s about the subject matter, the performances, or even the music, the conversation surrounding the show has been constant, making it a breakout hit for the streaming service — not to mention landing its original source material, Jay Asher’s 2007 YA novel of the same name, the No. 1 spot on USA Today’s best-seller list.
Adapted by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Brian Yorkey (Next to Normal) and executive-produced by a team including Selena Gomez and Spotlight director Tom McCarthy, 13 Reasons depicts a year in the life of a high school junior who kills herself after leaving behind 13 tapes that explain her decision. On the series, each tape translates to an individual episode during which Hannah discusses a particular person’s impact on her life. As Hannah’s love interest Clay listens to each cassette, an increasingly haunting tale of bullying, sexual assault, and, eventually, suicide is unspooled.
As hot as the show is among young (and not-so-young) viewers, the ways in which it confronts these issues is just as hotly debated. Does it glamorize suicide? Is it too graphic? Or should it be lauded for its willingness to disturb audiences in the pursuit of honest conversation? The show isn’t just dominating Twitter — it’s become water cooler talk across the nation. To find out why we can’t stop talking about it — and there are many reasons — pick up this week’s EW.