The portrayal of teenage characters by adults may have often occurred for the past years in TV and movie settings. However, the real ages of the “13 Reasons Why” cast members have brought on quite a commotion especially with their appearances that are noticeably older than that of teenagers.
With Selena Gomez working as executive producer, the hit drama-mystery series adapted for Netflix revolves around the story of teenage student Hannah Baker who commits suicide after going through multiple disturbing circumstances, further brought on by their fellow classmates. In “13 Reasons Why” season 1, a box of cassette tapes was left behind by Hannah; she recorded them herself before taking her life away.
These tapes show the 13 reasons why Hannah committed suicide. Several graphic scenes on “13 Reasons Why” have also left some viewers disturbed and have caused a flurry of mixed responses.
Another reason behind viewers’ surprise over the unfolding of the emotionally intense story is the portrayal of teenage characters by adult actors. For instance, lead star Dylan Minnette, who takes on the role of Clay Jensen, is 20 years old and had already bagged major roles in hit movies, such as “Goosebumps” and “Don’t Breathe.”
Dylan’s fellow lead star and newcomer Katherine Langford takes the part of Hannah Baker on the Netflix hit; aged 21, the Australian actress is also a former swimmer. Actor Christian Navarro, who plays Tony on the series and is 25 years old, made his first breakthrough role on “13 Reasons Why.” He did make brief appearances in “Blue Bloods” and “Law & Order: Criminal Intent,” among others.
Jessica Davis is played by the Norwegian-Somali actress Alisha Boe, who is 20. The popular Justin Foley is portrayed by Brandon Flyyn, 23, who also took part in a “Peter Pan” musical as Mr. Smee. Also at 23, Justin Prentice plays Bruce Walker on the series while 22-year-old Miles Heizer appears as Alex Standall, who was featured in 2007’s “Rails & Ties.” Finally, appearing on Disney Channel’s “KC Undercover,” actor Ross Butler, 26 years old, also joined “13 Reasons Why” as Zach Dempsey.
On Sunday, Netflix confirmed that “13 Reasons Why” season 2 is in the works. There have been positive responses from fans, majority of whom have read Jay Asher’s novel on which the hit series was based. However, certain audiences such as educational institutions have claimed that “13 Reasons Why” is only heaping on societal concerns, including mental health issues.
Since the “13 Reasons Why” season 1 made its premiere in March, numerous school districts across the U.S. have issued letters to parents, emphasizing the possibility that their children may be watching a TV show that could be putting suicide into a positive note. Because of the graphic portrayals of suicide, bullying, rape, and substance abuse, the National Association of School Psychologies made a recommendation that “vulnerable youth, especially those who have any degree of suicidal ideation,” should not watch “13 Reasons Why.” A number of teenagers and parents who have experienced mental illness have already made their attempts to send out a petition that the series be removed from Netflix.
Meanwhile, the streaming site made a response when it released an additional warning for graphic content prior to the release of episode 1. Netflix also highlighted the availability of crisis information on the 13reasonswhy.info.
As for “13 Reasons Why” series creator Brian Yorkey, he issued a brief statement about the controversy. “I have tremendous respect for everyone’s point of view,” he said to Los Angeles Times recently. “I always believe talking about things is better than silence.”