By: Briana Phipps
Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why is the talk of the digital town right now. The haunting, and at times brutal 13 episode series tackles the alarming pressures and pitfalls of high school life, as experienced by one teen suicide victim, Hannah (Katherine Langford), who recorded tapes for each of the people whose varying degrees of hurtful behaviors have played a part in her decision to end her life.
Of all those who received her posthumous audio deliveries, there’s one character named Clay (Dylan Minnette) who wasn’t a proximal cause of her death but who instead represents a regret of the possibility she’ll miss out on by killing herself. In turn, he seems to evolve into a figure of hope and intervention for those whom he might recognize to be in similar depths of depression as his lost friend Hannah — namely, by grappling with a suicide attempt by Alex (Miles Heizer) and reaching out to Skye (Sosie Bacon), who he realizes is experiencing suicidal ideations.
Given the unique formatting of the series and the fact that there was no sequel to the Jay Asher novel of the same name that inspired it, there’ve been some conflicting opinions on whether the show should stand alone as a limited series or press forward with a second season due to its popularity.
Actor Devin Druid, for example, told CNN that he believed there were enough plotlines left dangling after the first season to justify another run of the show, like whether the negligent teacher Mr. Porter (Derek Luke) will turn the tapes over to the authorities and implicate himself or, again, fail these kids by omission.
For Asher himself, a continuance of the series neatly fits within his own authorial intention, as he revealed to Entertainment Weekly that his first draft of the book would’ve seen Hannah survive, with the character Clay now emboldened to help her endure the treatment of their peers as a result of her confessional series.
Even with her death ultimately committed to paper and screen, though, he told EW that he still thinks there’s a future that fits with his published and the adapted vision of the story. “I’d just like a continuation of all those characters … What happens to Clay? How do people react to what Alex did at the very end? What’s going to happen to Mr. Porter?” he told the mag. “I’d thought of a sequel at some point. I’d brainstormed it, but decided I wasn’t going to write it. So, I’d love to see it.”
And while he added that he’s standing firm on his decision not to write a sequel to his version of the story, he believed that Netflix’s take on the story reflected a deep understanding of the characters enough to proceed without his pen involved. “You can explore that world further in a different medium and the book will still be able to be itself,” Asher told EW.
It certainly wouldn’t be the first time a book-to-screen adaptation on television has broken from its source material after starting from a concurrent beginning — The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones are some of the most obvious current examples of that — but it is hard to imagine a new run that could truly honor the structure of the original in any meaningful way. Or is it?
13 Reasons Why is now streaming on Netflix.