’13 Reasons Why’: Tape 1, Side A Justin Foley (S01E01) – review

The newest teen drama added to Netflix, 13 Reasons Why, is a certified hit. Based on the best selling novel, the Selena Gomez-produced show has been making major waves with Netflix viewers. It stars Dylan Minnette, Katherine Langford, and Kate Walsh. The 13 episode show is so popular- rumors have surfaced saying that Netflix is looking into the possibilities of creating a season 2.

Let’s take a look at the first episode: “Tape 1, Side A”

The show begins in a local high school following the suicide of student Hannah Baker. The students are reacting to the suicide in all different ways: some are feeling bad about it, some are posting on social media about it, and some don’t want to hear about it anymore. But one student, Clay Jensen, can’t stop thinking about Hannah. He sees her empty chair in class and thinks of when she was still alive. He sees her parents emptying out Hannah’s locker, and he can’t look away. He thinks about the times he talked to Hannah at the movie theater they both worked at. Clay isn’t talking about his feelings, but it’s obvious that he’s consumed with thoughts of Hannah.

When Clay gets home from school, he receives a package in the mail. When he opens it, he sees a bunch of cassette tapes. He picks up the tape labeled 1 and listens to it. What he hears is Hannah’s voice.

“I’m about to tell you the story of my life,” Hannah says. “More specifically, why my life ended.”

“If you’re listening, you’re one of the reasons why.”

Clay is shocked and confused to hear Hannah’s voice. And he has no idea why she sent him the tapes instead of someone else. Hannah says there are “13 sides to every story,” and gives him 13 tapes to listen to. Her instructions are to listen to the tapes, and pass them on to the next person. Hannah also includes a map for Clay in case he wants to visit the places important to her stories. She ends her instructions by telling Clay that he has no choice but to listen to the tapes. And someone is watching him to make sure he’s listening.

Hannah’s story on Tape 1 begins at a party, a party that Clay attends. At the party, Hannah’s best friend, Kat, introduces Hannah to her boyfriend, Justin Foley (Brandon Flynn). Even though he’s dating her best friend, Hannah can’t help but develop feelings for Justin. Kat moves away soon after the party and gives Hannah her blessing to get to know Justin. Justin and Hannah start out very flirty, and grow closer, having their first date in a nearby park. The two are all alone watching each other go down slides and taking pictures of each other laughing. Justin leans in and gives Hannah her first kiss as she sits at the bottom of the slide.

Everything is perfect, until the next day at school. Justin tells his friends that he spent the night before with Hannah, showing them the pictures he took of her in the park. The pictures, looking sexual out of context, amuse Justin’s friends so much, that they send the pictures around to everyone is school. When the pictures make the rounds, everyone thinks of Hannah in a new light, and not in a pleasing one. As Hannah says in the tape, the least popular story of all is the truth.

Later that day in school, kids are whispering everywhere about Hannah. Seeing her friend Clay sitting alone at lunch, Hannah joins him. Clay is distant toward Hannah, and makes a comment to her about her reputation after the pictures were released. She storms away from him, making it clear that Clay hurt her feelings.

Back in the present day, Clay listens to the tape and even visits the park that Hannah and Justin went to. When Clay is there, he discovers that his friend, Tony, is the one who is watching him. He knows that Hannah somehow convinced Tony to follow him, and is certain that Tony is somehow involved in the tapes. He confronts Tony and demands an explanation, but Tony assures him, “Hannah wanted it done like this.” Clay worries that he may not be able to listen to the tapes, as the entire situation is weighing heavily on his mind. But if Clay doesn’t listen to the tapes as Hannah instructed, Tony assures him, “It’ll only get worse.”

After school, Clay ejects Tape 1, turns it to side 2, and presses play.

If you or anyone you know are struggling with suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicicde Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.