Written by Shekhinah Raine
This article contains spoilers for the television show.
Amid all the differences between Netflix’s adaptation of “13 Reasons Why” and the original book by Jay Asher, only one has not been properly addressed: Hannah’s dire need of validation for her life.
In the Netflix series, Hannah puts her life in the hands of everyone else, including her counselor — the only character who was mature enough to deal with Hannah’s actions in a rational way — Mr. Porter. Hannah went to Mr. Porter looking for help and guidance, yet she didn’t really say anything about what happened to her. How is anyone supposed to help if they don’t know what is going on?
It’s clear in both the book and the series that Hannah, after walking out of his office, expects Mr. Porter to follow her. Even though Hannah was the one who pushed him away by not saying anything about her experience, she acts foolish and parades out of his office because he told her that, if she doesn’t want to come clean about what happened to her, then the best and final thing for her to do is to move on with her life. Yes, it was obvious she was struggling, but if she wouldn’t talk then what could Mr. Porter do?
No matter how she affected him, he is the only character in the book with a mindset of “if Hannah really wanted to do it, there was no one who would have stopped her.” This view makes Mr. Porter the only character that remains constant between the book and the series.
Hannah’s character in the Netflix adaptation was more vindictive, petty and needy than the original. In the book, she made the tapes to inform her peers about why she took the drastic actions she did, but in the series, the tapes become a stage for her to ruin their lives because they ruined hers. Hannah’s death is nothing more than a glamorized revenge plot and there is nothing glamorous about suicide.
Throughout the book, Hannah, even as a dead character, seems sure of the actions she took throughout her life. Even if there were some “reasons” that didn’t really seem like enough to commit suicide, the character reads as someone who is more rational than the Hannah we see in the series.
The television series was more dependent on shock factor than telling the story. It involves more rape and other subtle nuances blown out of proportion. Most of the changes between the series and the book were added to possibly extend the franchise for a second season, making them unnecessary to the story and insensitive to the issues it presents.