What Happened To Alex? And Everything Else You Need To Know About The ’13 Reason Why’ Series

As a book, Thirteen Reasons Why was already a big deal. But now that Selena Gomez has helped turn it into a hit TV series, we're all revisiting the really important story about teen trauma

'13 Reason Why' Series

by Jazmin Kopotsha |

‘Hey. It’s Hannah’. If you’ve watched what’s probably become one of Netflix’s most important TV series, those three little words probably resonate pretty deeply to you now. 13 Reasons Why caught everyone's attention really quickly and had us feeling super emotional from the off - from the honest account of the really difficult subject matter, the brilliant (and relatively new to the scene) cast members and of course, Selena Gomez was involved.

Before the show came out, Selena explained in an Instagram post: 'What 13 reasons why has represented was an authentic story of what every kid deals with in every day life. The pressure, the unrealistic expectations of what they believe they should be. Whether you have read this book or not, it's a story of what every kid does and will continue to go through - unless we keep talking about it. People are hurting and deserve to be heard.'

She added: 'I hope@13reasonswhy can enlighten people to what words mean when you say them.'

Most of us can identify with at least one element of high school life that 13 Reasons Why deals with. But, as with every great TV series, after 13 hours glued to your laptop screen watching it all unfold, we're always left with a few burning questions that need answering. So, we've done our best to do that right here. Aren't we good.

Needless to say, there are spoilers guys. Lots and lots of spoilers. So, it would be great if you didn't just read it all and then go back to your mates after only having watched two and a half episodes to try and be *that *know it all. You're better than that, friend. And the show is oh so good. Or you could just ignore what I say and read on to get the low-down on about the story literally everyone is talking about like, right now. Either way...

Is 13 Reasons Why based on a true story?

The Netflix series isn’t directly based on a true story, but rather on the book Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher which came out back in 2007. Asher’s story was partly inspired by one of his relatives who had tried to commit suicide, reports the New York Times, but he said that the idea to frame the story around cassette tapes came from an audio guided tour of a Las Vegas exhibition about King Tutankhamen of Egypt that he really enjoyed.

13 Reasons Why in summary. What’s it really about?

Honestly, it’s about so many things. But the gist is that it’s a 13-episode TV series about a girl called Hannah Baker, a high schooler who commits suicide and leaves behind 13 cassette tapes that each tell the story of the 13 things (or rather, people) that lead to her decision to take her own life.

Most of our time is spent with Clay Jenson, a guy at Hannah’s school who she gets on with and later falls for. He gets home to find the tapes and we listen along with him and flit between the past and present trying to piece together Hannah’s story.

The idea is that the tapes get passed along to the 13 people Hannah mentions so they each hear how they killed her. It’s kind of got the momentum of a murder mystery but at the same time, it’s really nothing like a murder mystery. We know that Clay was one of Hannah’s few friends and get the impression that he fancies her really early on, but he has the tapes, so we’re also trying to work out what Clay could have done to contribute to Hannah’s pain.

In all, it’s basically a really honest, sometimes hard to watch, look at teen suicide, bullying, sexual assault, slut shaming and lots of other difficult things.

Where can I watch the 13 Reasons Why trailer?

You can watch it right here, but between you and I, the trailer doesn’t do the show nearly enough justice. But then I suppose that’s the point.

What are the 13 reasons?

So, the 13 reasons are actually 13 people. Towards the end of the series, Hannah’s mum finds a piece of paper hidden away amongst Hannah’s things that she used to map out who was responsible and how she reaches a point of what she describes as ‘not caring about anything anymore’.

In order, the 13 reasons are:

  1. Justin, who gave Hannah her first kiss but said that more had happened than it did.

  2. Alex, who put her on a ‘hot or not’ list and awarded her ‘best ass’ which only fuelled the image of Hannah as a ‘slut’, and his ex-girlfriend Jessica as ‘worst ass’ because he was upset about their breakup.

  3. Jessica, who believed that Hannah had made Alex write the list because they had been hooking up behind her back (they hadn’t) and then slaps her.

  4. Tyler, the yearbook photographer who became Hannah’s stalker and took pictures of her through her bedroom window.

  5. Courtney, one of the popular girls at school who befriends Hannah and offers to help catch Tyler in the act. They end up having a few drinks, fooling around in bed and it’s then caught on camera. When the pictures come out and are spread around school Courtney makes up more lies about Hannah’s sexual activity to save herself from being outed as a lesbian.

  6. Marcus, class president and generally popular person, acts on the rumours about Hannah and tries to take advantage of her in front of his friends.

  7. Zach, a jock on the basketball team, pretends to try and console Hannah after the Marcus incident and messes with her feelings for a bit. You can see he’s a bit conflicted by it all but joins in with the other boys anyway.

  8. Ryan, who runs the high school student magazine, meets Hannah at a poetry meeting that she chooses to attend in efforts to build something for herself outside of school. They become friends, he’s impressed by her poetry where she expresses some of her deepest, most vulnerable thoughts. He then steals the poem and publishes it without telling her.

  9. Clay, Hannah’s friend, crush and work colleague is next. Hannah does say that he was the nicest person she knew, and we later learn that she had a crush on him too. But when Hannah pushed him away, Clay didn’t fight it.

  10. Justin (again), who allows his best friend Bryce to rape Hannah’s ex-best friend Jessica (who is now dating Justin) at her party and then when it comes out in the tapes, he convinces Jessica that it’s all lies.

  11. Sheri, who offers to drive a drunk Hannah home from the party and knocks down a stop sign on the way. She refuses to call the police, and the missing stop sigh causes a car accident which kills Jeff, one of the nice jocks who Clay had been good friends with.

  12. Bryce, king of the jocks, who we find out also raped Hannah.

  13. Mr Porter, the school counsellor who Hannah reaches out to for help when she decides to ‘give life one more try’. She secretly records their session and he fails to act on her description of rape or when she shows signs of wanting to end her life. Instead, he tells her to try and move on.

Are they making a 13 Reasons Why movie?

Afraid not. When 13 Reasons Why was picked up by Universal pictures, it had originally been in development as a film though, reports Variety. But obvs, that's not how things panned out.

Will there be a 13 Reasons Why season 2?

If you’ve made it through all 13 episodes of the series, you’ve probably been left with a few unanswered questions. After all, there only so much that Hannah’s tapes could explain. And as much as you might be pining for a second season, we do have to bear in mind that Thirteen Reasons Why, the book, didn’t have a sequel. Sorry, guys.

Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, the book's author Jay Asher said: ‘Things weren’t left open in the hopes of a sequel... There is no end for the characters left behind. Every action we have is going to have repercussions in ways we could not anticipate. You realise that with not just what Hannah did, but also how other people treated Tyler (the yearbook photographer) throughout it.’

‘It’s the whole message of the book’, he added. ‘Of course, there’s obviously ways to go with a second season if they do that.’ So, that might be just enough to get your hopes up. But I guess we’ll see.

How does the Tony fit into Hannah’s story?

Yeah, I’m still scratching my head about Tony too. The basic version is that Tony is Clay’s best mate. We get the impression that they’ve been best mates for a really long time. It’s the classic ‘two kids who have been pals forever but are really different people which then becomes a challenge for their relationship’ kind of thing. Their friendship is one of my favourites in the series.

But the more complex answer to what Tony has to do with it all is, well, I like to think of him as guardian of the tapes. He’s the ally that Hannah chose to make sure that the tapes were passed from student to student the way she intended. How much that has to do with the fact that he was Clay’s friend too, or that he had loaned her the tape recorder I’m not too sure. But he was a good choice. Also, he brings another side story about homosexuality to it as well. But we don’t go into it through his character particularly significantly.

Who is Jeff in 13 Reasons Why?

Jeff tragically dies in a car accident after the big party and Jessica’s though, which crushes Clay. It’s not really spoken about very much. But you can tell it still hangs over Clay while he’s trying to come to terms with Hannah’s death too.

What happened to Alex and Justin in 13 Reasons Why?

So, in the last couple of episodes, we see Alex (the guy ‘with the hair’) and Justin (good jock turned bad), who both date Jessica at some point, particularly struggling with the pressure of what they did to Hannah, and everything that’s been going on. Between the two of them, we’re left with three huge cliffhangers.

The last we see of Justin is him swigging from a bottle of vodka he asks Bryce to get him, and he says that Bryce probably won’t see him around ever again. Nothing else is said. Cliffhanger number one.

A few episodes earlier, we’d seen Alex fall into the pool at Bryce’s house where he stayed underwater for a period of time just long enough for us to wonder if he was trying to kill himself too. In the last episode, we then find out that he shot himself in the head. He’s not dead, we just learn that he’s in intensive care at the hospital. Cliffhanger number two.

We don’t actually see Alex in possession of a gun at any point though, even though we know that his dad is a police officer so there are probably a few around. What we do see is Tyler exchanging a gun for some film roll by some dumpsters, and then later taking down the photo of Alex from the collection in his darkroom. Was he involved? Did he give Alex the gun? Did he shoot Alex? Cliffhanger number three, my friends.

What’s does Selena Gomez have to do with 13 Reasons Why?

You’ve probably seen Selena Gomez’s name pop up quite a bit in your manic Googling for answers. Selena is actually one of the Executive Producers for the show. The story goes, after she and her mum read the book, they got to work on getting it adapted for the screen.

It was picked up by Universal Pictures, apparently, with the intention of it becoming a film that she’d star in, but then it transpired that Netflix got involved, it became a series, and she remained EP. Or something like that. Selena did speak to The Hollywood Reporter about how she really identifies with Hannah though. ‘I see myself as Hannah so much’, she explained. ‘I wanted it to feel like anyone can see themselves in this’. Which is why she chose to stay behind the camera this time.

Most recently in Selenator news though, is that she Alisha Boe (who plays Jessica Davis) and Tommy Dorfman (Ryan Shaver) all got matching tattoos. Not just for lolz or anything. They each got a black semicolon on their wrists to symbolise mental health awareness and suicide prevention the core themes of the TV series.

What does Selena Gomez’s blue nail polish mean?

If you spend any time social media stalking the 13 Reasons Why premier last month, you might have spotted Selena rocking blue nail polish. And as much as she looked great, she wasn’t just wearing that colour for the sake of it. It was a nod to Hannah in the show.

You see, Hannah uses a bright blue nail polish to label each of her cassette tapes. She also wears the blue nail polish on the day she decides to reach out to Mr Porter and give her life another chance. It’s a significant thing. And after watching the series you might also have seen lots of people on Instagram sharing pictures of themselves wearing bright blue nail polish in acknowledgement of the story too.

Was there an alternate ending to 13 Reasons Why?

Well, yes and no. There hasn’t really been anything said about whether or not they had different plans for the Netflix series, but in the 10th-anniversary edition of Jay Asher’s book, he revealed that in his original ending, Hannah actually survived. (Hands up who else secretly thought that was how the Netflix series was going to end?)

Apparently, the story was going to be that she attempted suicide by swallowing pills but was found by her parents and had her stomach pumped. Asher told Entertainment Weekly: ‘I liked the idea of “We’ve learned something from this. And yet, here’s a second chance”’.

‘Out of seriousness for the issue, we realised we can’t go there,” he added though. ‘No matter that there were missed opportunities for her. Those opportunities aren’t there if you do this. Once I realised that the message of the story would be stronger and that it would definitely be more of a cautionary tale. I felt that was definitely the way to go.’

Like this? You might also be interested in…

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Follow Jazmin on Instagram @JazKopotsha

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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