13 Reasons Why (or as it was stylized on screen as Th1rteen R3easons Why) is an American mystery teen drama web television series that is based on the 2007 novel of the same name by Jay Asher and adapted by Brian Yorkey for Netflix. The series revolves around a high school student, Clay Jensen, and his friend Hannah Baker, a girl who committed suicide after suffering a series of demoralizing circumstances brought on by select individuals at her school. A box of cassette tapes were recorded by Hannah before her suicide that details the thirteen reasons why she ended her life.
Yorkey and Diana Son serve as showrunners on the series. The first season consists of thirteen episodes. The series is produced by July Moon Productions, Kicked to the Curb Productions, Anonymous Content, and Paramount Television. Originally conceived as a film set to be released by Universal Pictures with Selena Gomez in the role of Hannah Baker, the adaptation was picked up as a television series by Netflix in late 2015. Gomez serves as an executive producer. The first season, and the special 13 Reasons Why: Beyond the Reasons, were released worldwide on Netflix on March 31, 2017.
The series has received largely positive reviews from critics and audiences, who have praised its subject matter and casting, particularly the two leads, Dylan Minnette and Katherine Langford. It has attracted a significant amount of controversy from some, including mental health professionals, over the series’ graphic depiction of issues such as suicide and rape, along with other mature content. In May 2017, it was announced that the series had been renewed for a second season that is scheduled to premier in 2018.
The Series Itself (4/5):
The first season of 13 Reasons Why was something that I hadn’t had the opportunity to check out yet until the DVD arrived at my doorstep. Offering a story that is considerably relatable on so many levels as many of us have experienced teenage angst during our youth, and there really isn’t any other period of time in someone’s life that’s more dramatic. This particular series, being one of the more well played out teenage television series, it managed to capture a significant amount of attention from teens and adults alike. Not only working to bring awareness to an often over-looked epidemic like suicide or depression, this series does a phenomenal job at portraying the exact crap that a lot of kids go through during their high school years. Whether it be being made fun or, or raped in some instances, every minute detail of a teenage life can be really have an impact on their well being when it’s often disregarded by those who commit those heinous acts. Overall, I found this season to be a really powerful experience with the messages that it set out to convey, and that it appropriately showed us gory details of those thirteen reasons as to why Hannah had decided to end her life.
Picture Quality (3/5):
I was surprised to see that 13 Reasons Why: Season 1 wasn’t getting a Blu-ray release. That said, the DVD copy of the series looks just as good as you would expect it to be within the limitations of the format. While the overall picture quality wasn’t as clear as it could have been, I feel that this physical release did a decent job at visually portraying the story at hand. That said, I feel like that the picture quality that’s presented from the Netflix streaming services offers a much, much better look into Hannah’s life and those events that brought her to such a tragic decision.
Audio Quality (3/5):
Packaged with a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track, 13 Reasons Why offers a pretty clean audible experience as you listen to the track as it plays through your home theater system. While it’s a lossy audio track, and not nearly as immersive as an experience that a Blu-ray copy of the series would have provided, everything was clean and able to be heard and understood without having to manually adjust the volume levels as it progressed. Dialogue was clean, however there were a handful of moments as a character would try to mutter something under their breath that was a little difficult at hearing. Thankfully, this release came packaged with English SDH subtitles to allow for the opportunity to catch those moments in case you do not hear something being said.
The Packaging (2.5/5):
The first season of 13 Reasons Why comes packaged in your standard four-disc DVD amaray case. Within that case are the four DVD discs that comprise the release of the season, each disc featuring absolutely no artwork whatsoever outside of the standard release text and very bland grey background. There is inside artwork to the case that also includes an outline of all of the episodes for this season. There are no digital copy redemption pamphlets included with this release; however, a slipcover has been included that features the same piece of artwork that’s been made available on the case art.
Special Features (4/5):
The special features that have been included with the release of 13 Reasons Why: Season 1 offer a really nice look at not only the work that went into making the series available to us, but the majority of it offers a really nice extended view into the story, allowing for some of the questions that remained unanswered at the end of the series to actually be answered. Included with this release is:
- Hannah & Clay: An Unfinished Love Story
- Justin Foley: Not Your Typical Jock
- Discovering Jessica Davis
- Bringing The Book To Life
- 13 Things About Me
- Beyond The Reasons
Encoding Format: 16:9
Resolution: 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
English: Dolby Digital 5.1
Original Series: 717 minutes
Overall, I’m really grateful that Paramount Pictures gave us the opportunity to check out 13 Reasons Why: Season 1. Sure, it was something that I had on my list to check out over time, but ultimately didn’t know when I would actually get around to it. The story that we’re given with this series, is considerably powerful and allows for a lot of things that often go unnoticed within a teenagers life to be caught. The series has since gained a lot of flack for not only its “glorification” or visual representation of suicide or visual depiction of rape; but, it’s actually being blamed for a number of teenage suicides that occurred shortly after these teens had finished watching the firsts season. While I would like to try and stay out of that particular argument either way with that regard, I do think that this particular series was really, really well done and really should have been released onto Blu-ray as well. 13 Reasons Why: Season 1 will be available on DVD beginning Tuesday, April 3, 2018.
Note: This DVD was sent to us for review. This has not affected our judgement or editorial process in any way. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this process.