Get to know about the frequently asked question, Is 13 reasons why is based on a true story? The show 13 reasons why is a critically acclaimed series which has gained popularity as soon as it was dropped. It’s based on the 2007 novel of the same name by Jay Asher which tackled difficult themes such as sexual assault and suicide.

13 reason why is based on true story or not

The series made a big impact on Netflix viewers after the release of first season in 2017. With its traumatic anecdote of suicide, rape, and drugs, the series has made fans wonder if it is based on a true story. Keep reading this article because we’ve got your answers.

13 Reason Why is Based On True Story

Although the show touches on events that have happened in real life, it is NOT based on a true story. The series is based on a novel. Hence all the characters in the book as well as in the series are fictional. The show starts off with 17-year-old Hannah Baker’s suicide via a slitted arm.

Her school locker thereafter becomes a memorial adorned with student’s letters, her pictures, and of course some flowers. Clay Jenson comes home from school and finds a shoebox on his doorstep. The box contains 7 audio cassette tapes that has Hannah’s recording of 13 reasons why is not a true story where she killed herself on each side of the tape.

Hannah, the lead actress, warns the listeners to follow certain rules. The rule is to listen the 7 tapes completely and then pass it on to the next person addressed. If they fail o do so, the duplicated set of tapes held by another friend Tony Sark will be released. Each person, therefore, listens to their tape and secrets come out. Everyone that was on the tape were somehow inter-linked which made the fans bite their nails.

Differences between the Novel and the Series

Though the main plotlines were kept, the series changed a few things to enhance the effect of the story. As well as to turn the small book of less than 300 pages into a full 13-hour series. First, they expanded the storyline with some new characters to flash out Hanah Baker’s journey. For example, one of Courtney’s best friends Stephanie, a typical mean girl, had one of the shortest descriptions in the script. Quote pretty comma dumb. 

Hannah Payne (girl behind this character) had no references from the book, therefore, more acting freedom. But if you thought that the whole cast read the original book to get in their characters, you’re wrong.

Catherine aka Hannah Baker was amongst the few of the cast members who actually read the entire book before the production of the show began. But neither her nor Dylan aka Clay Jenson were familiar with the original story before the audition. Both the actors said that they deliberately did not look into it to avoid unnecessary pressure.

Another difference between the book and the series concerned Dylan’s character. In the book, clay listens to all of the 13 tapes recorded by Hannah in one night. The show expands that process to about two weeks to give more insight into Clays life and emotions.

As well as to tell the stories of other characters. As for the original tragedy, in the book, Hannah Baker ends her life with a drug overdose but this moment is only mentioned vaguely. However, in the series character’s death is portrayed with explicit details. Well, at least that was the case until July 2019 when the controversial scene was removed. 

Removal of the controversial scene

When the creators of 13 reasons why worked on the show, above all, they wanted to avoid glamorizing and romanticizing suicide. Yes, they did it in poorly honest manner, showing the ugly and painful consequences of depression and assault. 

What was previously shown only on the criminal news report reached the cozy entertainments. It sparked a lot of criticism. The most traumatizing scene was undoubtedly the one where Hannah Baker takes her own life in her bath in season 1. The reason they included such a horrifying moment was to dissuade viewers from copying it. In a statement, Netflix said;

“we’ve heard from many young people that 13 Reasons Why is a true story that invigorated them to start conversations about trying issues like depression and suicide and get help ― often for the first time”.

Although Netflix added the warning cards to the beginning of the episodes and developed the educational website i-e 13reasonwhy.info, still for suicide prevention it wasn’t enough. Many experts blame the show for giving guidelines that could lead to a potential suicide contagion effect among teenage viewers. 

After consulting with medical experts, Netflix eventually removed the graphic moment from the episode 2 years after it premiered. Netflix stated:

“we’ve been wary about the current debate around the show. We believe this edit will support the show do the most good for the most people while extenuating any risk for especially vulnerable young viewers”.

 The current version loose the moments of Hannah looking into the mirror and her parents’ reaction of finding her body. Despite all the criticisms, the show is worth watching!

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