Ever since 13 Reasons Why premiered on Netflix back in March 2017, it quickly took the world by storm and became a fan favorite. With its constant twists and turns, it’s safe to say the show, which stars Dylan Minnette, Katherine Langford, Timothy Granaderos, Ross Butler, Devin Druid, Miles Heizer, Justin Prentice, Brandon Flynn, Alisha Boe and Christian Navarro, constantly leaves its viewers on the edge of their seats, wanting more!
For those who forgot, the show follows a group of kids who received a mysterious box of tapes, recorded by a girl named Hannah Baker just hours before she took her own life. On the tapes, Hannah explained the 13 reasons why she decided to commit suicide.
But wait, is it based off a true story? We decided to investigate, and the author of the book series the show came from, Jay Asher, has actually spilled a lot of tea on the subject. It turns out, although the series is not inspired by a real story, the situations that occur in it are all based off of real-life things that have happened to him or the people around him.
“All of the reasons Hannah describes were based, at least loosely, on situations I’d either experienced or heard about, mostly from my wife or close female friends,” the author said in an interview with Coming Soon back in 2017.
But what about the characters — are they real? Nope. Hannah is most definitely a fictional character, but she represents all the real people who are dealing with issues like hers on a daily basis.
“While Hannah wasn’t specifically based on anyone, her character always felt very real,” Jay continued. “So it was a matter of interpreting those situations through her thoughts and feelings.”
In fact, Jay explained exclusively to J-14 when the show first premiered that he had a female family member who attempted suicide at the same age Hannah Baker was. Years after, that’s how he came up with the concept for this story. As for why he chose cassette tapes to tell Hannah’s story, that part came to him randomly when he was on a tour of Las Vegas, which was guided by audio tapes.
“The subject matter was inspired by a relative who attempted suicide when she was the same age as Hannah, a junior in high school,” the author told us. “The structure was inspired by an audio tour I took when I was about twenty years old. I’d started writing seriously by then, and I knew one day I would write a book with that simultaneous dual narration.”
Just like the rest of the fictional characters in 13 Reasons Why, Clay Jenkins, a boy in the show who had a major crush on Hannah before her tragic death, was not a real person. However, this particular role was based off of a real person in the author’s life.
“The only character based on an actual person is Clay. He’s very non-confrontational, even when confrontation is needed, which is something I’ve always struggled with,” Jay continued. “And while many of the situations were based on real things I either witnessed or experienced or that were shared with me as I was working on the book, the characters in those situations are completely made up.”
If you or someone you know needs to talk to someone, text the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
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