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13 Reasons Why the Show and Book are Different

Warning: the following contains spoilers.

Photo by Netflix.

Photo by Netflix.

By Suha Niyas

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On March 31, the first season of the television show 13 Reasons Why was released on Netflix. The show was an adaptation of the book, Thirteen Reasons Why, that was released back in 2007.

The Netflix series has garnered attention after Selena Gomez, one of the executive producers, released a statement regarding the filming of the show. Although both the book and show received a lot of love, there are noticeable changes in the series when recreating the story:

  1. The main character of the show, Clay Jensen, was the 11th person out of the 13 people to receive the tapes and skipped Bryce (12th person) to give the tapes to the last person on the tapes, Mr. Porter. In the book, he was ninth on the list and passed the tapes onto number 10. Also, Jessica Davis’s tape was before Alex Standall in the TV series, but it was the opposite for the book.
  2. The whole season depicted how long it took for Jensen to finish listening to all 13 tapes. The other characters in the show showed their frustration along with the viewers on how slow he was in listening. On the other hand, the male character listened to the tapes the same day he received them in the novel.
  3. Since the book was released in 2007, the author, Jay Asher, did not use the influence of social media for bullying or spreading rumors around school. Instead, he had students spread rumors through person-to-person gossip. However, the Netflix series made use of that to spread pictures like the one with Hannah Baker sliding down the slide.
  4. Although Clay injured himself in both the book and the show, he hurt himself in two different ways. On the first episode, Jensen was distracted by the idea of the tapes and received a cut on his forehead from hitting his bike into a car. In the novel, he cut his hand from a fence.
  5. When Courtney came over to Hannah’s house to expose her stalker, they gave each other back massages in the book rather than kissing each other during a game of intoxicated Truth or Dare. The character, Courtney, was not humiliated for being gay in the novel unlike the television series.
  6. A huge part of the show, 13 Reasons Why, was the parents lawsuit against the school for their daughter’s suicide. However, the lawsuit did not exist in Asher’s book, and the Bakers hardly appeared in the book except when someone said they closed their shoe store.
  7. Along with the Bakers, Clay’s parents were not in every chapter of the book like how they are there in every episode of the show. His mom came in the beginning of the novel to check on him, while in the show, she was talking with Jensen all the time and known for being the lawyer to defend the school against the lawsuit.
  8. The Monet trio, Hannah, Jessica, and Alex, had a phrase they would say when they need advice from each other. The book had the phrase, “olly olly oxen free”, but the line felt too old-fashioned and was changed to “FML”.
  9. The sweet cheerleader, Sheri, was responsible for knocking down a stop sign that lead to the death of another student. Fans of the show knew her as Sheri, but the book fans knew her by her original name, Jenny Kurtz.
  10.  Standall was one of the characters who was affected by horrible action towards Baker and started to become suicidal. It was told that he shot himself in the head leaving viewers not knowing if he survived or not, but this feeling Alex was having never happened in Asher’s novel.
  11.  There was a scene in the show where it looked like Tyler was planning to start a school shooting by revealing guns and explosives in his trunk. But, no allusion of this happened in the book.
  12.  The Netflix series made it seem like Clay and Hannah were close friends who worked at  the movie theater together and made each other go to parties. The two actually never had a full conversation with each other in the book until they kissed each other at Jessica’s party, making them acquaintances.
  13.  Hannah commits suicide differently in the book and in the series. The Netflix show was more graphic as they made her slit her wrists open in a bathtub that continued to fill water while she bled out. Asher originally wanted to keep Hannah alive, but to get the point across, he made her “swallow a handful of pills”.

Freshman Jade Siegel said, “I am pretty disappointed that the show added some unnecessary parts like the Bakers’ lawsuit, but it seems that the show will be just as meaningful as the book.”

All in all, the show was pretty similar to the book, but the years they were created affected the style. 13 Reasons Why on Netflix was more modern and included social media along with problems nowadays like underaged smoking.

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher was more 2007 with the phrases like “olly olly oxen free”. Overall, both reading the book and watching the show can help get the same point across to never have suicide as an option.

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13 Reasons Why the Show and Book are Different