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13 Reasons Why: Top 10 Differences Between the Book and the Show

VO: Emily Brayton
This Netflix original show starring Katherine Langford and Dylan Minnette is based on the 2007 novel “Thirteen Reasons Why” by Jay Asher. The TV adaptation, however, makes several changes from the book. Find out more about the different portrayals of Hannah Baker and Clay Jensen, as well as the journey of her tapes as we look at the Top 10 Differences Between 13 Reasons Why the book and the TV show.
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13 Reasons Why: Top 10 Differences Between the Book and the Show



Wait, that didn’t happen in the book… did it? Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 differences between the '13 Reasons Why' book and TV show.

For this list, we'll be taking a look at the most noteworthy differences between Jay Asher's 2007 novel and the 2017 Netflix series. So before watching this video, make sure you've seen all thirteen episodes, because there will be spoilers. We're also adding a mature warning, since this video will include scenes from the show depicting serious and graphic content.

#10: The Lawsuit

What lawsuit? In the book written by Jay Asher, there is merely not enough time for a lawsuit since the unfolding of events happen over a single night. Since the TV series takes place over the course of a few months after Hannah's suicide, there is plenty of time for viewers to witness the aftermath of her death, which includes her parents taking legal action against the school and its students. The lawsuit actually becomes a central focus of the show and heavily influences the actions of its main characters.

#9: The Season 1 Ending

Upon finishing the tapes, Clay becomes more aware of the people around him, prompting him to reach out to his former friend and outcast Skye, whom he fears may go down the same path as Hannah. In both versions of the story, Clay invites Skye to hang out, and on the show they drive off together in the car with Tony and his boyfriend. But that's not just how the story ends on the TV show; Justin leaves town, Tyler is seen with a case of guns in his room, Alex is in critical condition after his own suicide attempt, and there is a breakthrough in the lawsuit, leading viewers to anticipate the second season.

#8: Hannah's Parents

In the book, Hannah's parents are completely absent; the only real mention of them being when Clay notices their shop has been closed up. Whereas in the series, there is a whole side story revolving around her the grief of her parents and their lawsuit, and people on the tape are often seen making purchases at their shop and interacting with them. This brings a more emotional aspect to the story, because while it is difficult seeing how Hannah's suicide affects Clay and her other classmates, nothing compares to the tragedy of a parent losing their child.

#7: Courtney Crimsen

The Courtney in the book is described by Hannah as someone everyone likes, and the only time we see her being anything but is when she uses Hannah for a ride to a party and then adds to the rumors of her promiscuity. She also does this on the show to hide the fact that she is gay. But the big difference between the characters is that we get to see a lot more of Courtney's mean and manipulative side on the show after Hannah's suicide, since she is part of the group trying to stop Clay from listening to the tapes.

#6: Clay & Hannah

The book version of Clay really has a hard time understanding why he would be on Hannah's tapes, because although he had a crush on her, they barely ever talked besides when they worked together at the movie theatre and that one time they kissed at a party. TV Clay makes the same claim that they weren't that close, but who is he trying to kid? On the show they are obviously friends, they spend time outside of work, she even has a nickname for him, and it's clear that his crush on her is reciprocated, which makes Clay's turn with the tapes that much sadder.

#5: Teen Behavior

The book does not sugarcoat the high school experience, and describes scenes where teens are drinking and having sex, which in two tragic instances results in rape. But the show definitely amplifies the "bad" behavior of its teenage characters, and doesn’t shy away from showing students frequently day drinking, doing drugs, dropping F bombs, and way too many characters handling guns. Additionally, rather than just having Hannah tell the story of the two rapes, the TV adaptation includes two incredibly painful portrayals.

#4: Hannah's Tapes & Timeline

The original story takes place over one night during which Clay walks around his neighborhood listening to every single tape and visiting the destinations on Hannah's map. This timeline makes sense since Clay would want to finish the tapes as quickly as possible to find out why he's on them. TV Clay, on the other hand, takes his sweet time with the tapes, and the other characters often show their surprise at how slow he's being. This has also led to numerous jokes by viewers about how they watched all the episodes faster than Clay listened to the tapes.

#3: The Fate of the Tapes

Clay is originally supposed to be number nine on the tapes, and his job is to pass them on to Jenny– who is Sheri on the show. But in the TV adaptation, Clay is number eleven instead, with only serial rapist Bryce and the oblivious guidance counsellor Mr. Porter left after him. So rather than send the tapes to Bryce and let the rapes be swept under the rug, he records Bryce's confession and gives the tapes to Mr. Porter to decide what to do with them. Tony also gives a copy of the tapes to Hannah's parents as evidence in their lawsuit.

#2: The Suicide

Since in the book we only see things through Clay's eyes, all we know about Hannah's suicide itself is that she supposedly took some pills. Undoubtedly, the most controversial part of the Netflix show is that they chose to show viewers Hannah's actual suicide itself. In the final episode, the show depicts an extremely graphic scene of Hannah slitting her wrists in her bathtub and bleeding to death. It has been criticized as unnecessary and that it glorifies suicide, but the show's actors are defending the scene, claiming that not only do we need to talk about suicide, we need to see it.

#1: The Point of View

Clearly, with Clay being the book's protagonist, the only point of view we are going to get is his and, through the tapes, Hannah's. So the book is almost like a conversation between the two characters. The show, however, really focuses on the other people on the tapes too, and how they are dealing with the aftermath of Hannah's death. In addition, while the book only gives us Hannah's account of how things happened, some of the TV characters claim that's not how things really went down in some cases, making us doubt whose point of view to believe.
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