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"Why would a dead girl lie?"
Hannah Baker is the protagonist of Jay Asher's 2007 novel "13 Reasons Why". The book tells the deeply emotional story of a high school junior who takes her own life. 13 Reasons Why has been adapted into a hugely successful Netflix series starring Katherine Langford and Dylan Minnette as Hannah Baker and Clay Jensen, respectively.
Katherine Langford is an Australian actress who was born in April 1996. 13 Reasons Why is her breakout television role and she auditioned for the Netflix original via Skype. Photo: Netflix/13 Reasons Why
After a series of life altering events, Hannah decides that she can no longer continue with how things are. Though the decision to take her own life ultimately belongs to Hannah, she creates the tapes to provide insight into her choice. There are 7 tapes and 13 sides initially. Clay adds an additional recording of Bryce Walker's confession, making it "14" recordings.
Hannah creates the cassette tapes that tell the in depth stories of how her classmates made her life unbearable. On the tapes are Justin Foley, Courtney Crimson, Jessica Davis, Alex Standall, Tyler Down, Marcus Cooley, Sheri Holland (Jenny in the book), Clay Jensen, Bryce Walker, Ryan Shaver, Zach Dempsey, and the school counselor, Mr Porter.
Hannah admits that Clay never hurt her the way the others did. The tape she leaves him leads Clay to believe that Hannah died because he "was afraid to love her". This is a flawed system of thought because, as Tony puts it, "you can't love someone back to life". However, Hannah is right in saying that she and Clay had a connection that he could have used to break through some of her pain.
There is a small difference between how the book portrays Hannah's death versus how it is depicted in the Netflix show. Originally, there are few details given about how Hannah takes her life. It is implied that Hannah overdoses on pills, but the scene is not described in great detail. In the show, Hannah fills a bath tub and makes deep cuts to her wrists. She bleeds out and is discovered by her parents. It is a very graphic scene which has drawn some criticism from suicide watch groups.
While the story is hard to process because of Hannah's tragic end, the story's author Jay Asher has since shared that Hannah was initially supposed to live in the first draft of 13 Reasons Why. "Once I realized 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," said Asher.
Selena Gomez purchased the rights to 13 Reasons Why in 2011 and originally wanted to play the part of Hannah Baker. The actress has said that she saw herself in Hannah and identified with some of her struggles. In the end, the part was given to Australian actress, Katherine Langford.
Selena Gomez may not have been in front of the cameras as Hannah Baker, but she did have a big role as executive producer. She wore blue nail polish to the Netflix premiere to honor "Hannah". Selena also contributed to the show's soundtrack with her cover of Yaz's "Only You".