(image credit: Netflix)

It’s almost expected that any sort of anti-bullying content will stand on a sanctimonious pedestal, creating a climate that fails to get people to understand the depths of what their actions are capable of.

In spite of this, “13 Reasons Why” manages to break the tropes associated with this style of content. It’s an honest, often brutally so, adaptation of a fantastically raw novel written by Jay Asher. But the Netflix series manages to push everything just a bit further, forcing you to feel in arguably the realest, yet most authentic and painful way possible.

While the subject matter is strong, it wouldn’t be nearly as effective without such a wonderfully raw cast of characters, portrayed by some truly incredible actors. While a lot of the side characters put on spectacular performances, the two leads re¬ally help the show to shine. While the actors portraying Clay and Hannah (our two stars) struggle to gain their footing within the first two episodes, it doesn’t stop them from really standing tall in the remaining episodes.

Unfortunately, it’s the realism of this show that makes it so painful to watch. While this stands as one of its strongest characteristics as a series, individuals who struggle with this sort of subject matter will find themselves no solace in a show like this.

Dealing with issues of suicide, sexual assault, homicidal behaviors and much more, “13 Reasons Why” refuses to shy away from the more graphic elements of its story. This is part of what makes it so effective, but it also evokes some very intense feelings.

“13 Reasons Why” is not per¬fect, despite a lot of its greater qualities. Sometimes, due to its political commentary, it places itself on a platform, and all of the advice it gives, or the stances it takes don’t quite mirror some people’s real experiences, and has incited quite a bit of backlash for some of its approaches to issues of mental health.

While this is an incredibly complex and harsh narrative, it also offers a particularly thorough look into some of the most prominent issues we’re facing in our society today. With sexual assault, sexism, school bureaucracy, bullying, suicide and many more issues at the forefront of this sto¬ry, driven by powerful characters, a meaningful impactful narrative and some of the greatest execution and pacing in Netflix his¬tory, “13 Reasons Why” may be one of the best shows we’ve seen this year.

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