Thirteen Reasons Why continues to be arguably the most controversial show NETFLIX has ever released, and one that has its supporters and haters. And, because I know there are pretty much only two types of readers who are currently reading this review, I thought I should share my view of the show so far.
The first season was a show that I was invested in, and although took its time to find its footing, was worthy of the buzz that was surrounding it everywhere I turned. Finishing up my version of ‘high school’ in 2017, I binged the first season in a weekend and was looking forward to the next season.
Unfortunately, 13 reasons why should have ended there. But, of course, as successful as the show was, a second season came, and even though the first season was controversial, Season 2 was unapologetic in its storytelling. But, never felt as though it had that spark that made the first season so thrilling. Nevertheless, it resulted in a powerful story line with Tyler, that at the very least made me invested to see what would happen next.
And, then the third season came. Which nobody can deny was hard to get through. The season was lacking everything the first season had, and just seemed to extend on everything I hated about the second season, turning a show that was once a conversation on society into a teen-drama fantasy. And, so honestly, I was ready to give up on the show, but the fourth season was announced to be the last, and I knew I had to give it a go.
The third season concluded with Monty being framed for the death of Bryce Walker, just as Monty had been killed in prison, tying the perfect bow. And, the fourth season finds Clay in a state of anxiety and paranoia, as he believes someone knows what he and his friends did, this isn’t helped by Monty’s real alibi Winston joining the college and teaming up with new character Diego to find out who really killed Bryce.
I’ll start with the positives in the season, one of the main questions I had about the third season, was why the creators introduced a new character to give the narration. And, it makes sense once you watch the fourth season, each season, a different character narrates the story, and this season is all about Clay. Which, I loved!
Clay is a character we have never really got to explore, we have never seen his perspective. And, by finally giving him the narration and it being from his perspective it allows the audience to see Clay struggle. We get to witness his anxiety and paranoia, and his determination to help everyone but himself. And, by having him meet with a doctor, we get to confront these issues that have been there since Season 1 as he does. And, those scenes he shares with Dr. Robert Ellman (Gary Sinise) are the best of the season.
But, again Season 4 doesn’t learn from the seasons that preceded it. I think there is a difference between misdirecting the audience to shock them later on, and cleverly writing something to be a surprise to audiences. And Season 4 still has these sudden twists that just don’t make sense, and is only added to add to the shock factor that all these other teen shows have.
Furthermore, so many episodes of the season feel repetitive, especially from Clay’s character arc, and especially early on. And, whilst at that time of watching I really didn’t enjoy, I understand that it was intended in order to make the audience understand Clay needs help, but, there really isn’t anything else going on in the season. All these characters are going to college, but I think this feeds most into Clay’s character because for the last four seasons he’s finally found his calling, to protect everyone (or at least that’s what he thinks).
I know I said I loved Clay’s story line, but that’s all we really get. I loved the Clay and Justin dynamic and it is built upon really well from previous seasons, but that’s the only thing that is developed. It’s hilarious, because so many people hated Ani during the third season, and it’s almost as if the creators want us to forget about her, and I’m pretty sure she’s of screen for half the season. Because, Clay and his struggles are handled so well, when the show attempts to show ‘teen-drama’ revolving around relationships, it doesn’t seem half as interesting.
Jessica doesn’t really have much of a story-arc either, which I think is just a missed opportunity, especially as she could have had a bigger arc in arguing against the injustices at the school. But, I do like the character development for Alex, and the dynamic between him and his father. The entire cast bring their A-games, as they know they have a fan-base dedicated to this show, and even though the latter seasons haven’t. They know, the first season did so much.
The main problem of season 3 was there was too many episodes, and I think the same applies for season 4. 10 episodes is an improvement, but episode 4 is completely unneeded and serves no purpose to the story bar to make it more entertaining, and really tailor it to the teenagers. And, like I said, the strongest part of the season is the showcase of Clay’s mental well being, and it does so really well, but by having an episode like this just takes away from it. I thought it would redeem itself by having two characters have an emotional heart-to-heart in the episode but it doesn’t
And, so all that is really left to talk about is the only reason I watched the season. To see the final goodbye, see how they would end this show that was once so good. And that feeling continues throughout most of the season, almost as if I was just waiting for this conclusion. And, although I may have given it some stick, the season does deliver one more shock before it bows out, and does nail its goodbye.