The Vocal Hub: ’13 Reasons Why’ Review

Original post HERE

SPOILER ALERT: I’ve tried my best not to give away too many spoilers, but be warned that quite a few lie ahead.

You’ve probably seen news of 13 Reasons Why appear on your social media feeds at some point in the past few weeks. The Netflix series has undoubtedly been one of the company’s strongest productions, garnering viewership of millennial subscribers across the globe. I remember reading the book when it first came out in 2007, and I was very excited to find out it was being turned into a show. Having watched the show in 2017, I found that I understood the severity of the story better as I had read the book at quite a young age. I also found that the plotline of the TV show was better than the book, for reasons that I will soon explained.

The show, aptly panned out over thirteen episodes, documents two parallel storylines. One is that of Clay Jensen, who receives a box of seven cassette tapes, with thirteen recordings of his classmate and love interest Hannah Baker, who committed suicide a few weeks prior to the beginning of the show. The second storyline documents what Clay hears on the tapes. Each recording represents a person and event which made Hannah feel the need to take her own life.

The show marks the 10th anniversary of a book of the same, Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. Asher was involved in discussing and approving the storyline of the TV show, and even helped promote it. Along with promotion of the show, Netflix, the show’s cast and executive producer Selena Gomez also took part in many interviews. Through this all, continuous awareness was promoted for youth suicide and mental health issues.

13 Reasons Why has been noted for its portrayal of Hannah Baker and its representation of mental health, bullying, suicide and a school out of touch with its students. What I found particularly interesting was the way in which the show delved into the backgrounds of the people on Hannah’s tapes, which is a complete divergence from the book. Having read the book when it first came out, I was extremely excited that it had been turned into an arc of episodes.

What excited me even more was the differences between the show and book. I appreciated the back stories of characters such as Justin, Zach, Courtney and Jessica, but I also appreciated the diversity that the show introduced into the show. I assumed that most of the characters in the book were white, given their names and limited character description. The show introduces Courtney as an American-Chinese closeted lesbian, with two dads, showcases Jessica as a half-black, half-white troubled teen, Zach as an American-Chinese jock with a soft spot, Tony as a gay Latino and much more. The introduction of characters of different race and sexuality gives the show a more realistic feel, and I found myself more invested in the show because of it.

I also appreciated the greater interactions that existed between Hannah and Clay, from their days working at the cinema together, to meeting at their school prom and at “the party”. In the show, Clay is one of Hannah’s first friends when she moves to the new town and school chronicled in the series. Clay and Hannah meet through a mutual friend who leaves town and the story until the very last episode. This is a marked difference from the book, which briefly mentions Clay and Hannah working together from Clay’s point of view, and the party where Hannah and Clay connect for the first time. The greater interaction between the two characters portrays a greater sense of loss and anger that Clay feels, as well as his regret at not telling Hannah how much he loved her. Moreover, in the ten years since the book has released, social media and smartphones have become commonplace, so the writing of the show was adapted to show rumours regarding Hannah, pictures of her  and poetry that Hannah had written being spread via text and social media to other students

The show has been praised for its portrayal of mental health issues but has also been greatly criticized. Many have given positive reviews of the depiction of rape, sexuality, depression, bullying and suicide in the series, but others feel that its graphic portrayal of these issues, including the way in which Hannah kills herself as well as the way in which Jessica and Hannah are both respectively raped by Bryce. Fox News recently wrote an article stating that the show, whilst informative and important, could have done better to show alternatives to suicide.

Jay Asher recently stated that he wanted to change the story to show Hannah as having attempted suicide and survived, but decided that she should die in order for the core message of the book to stay with readers, and thereafter viewers of the show; that our seemingly harmless one-off actions do impact people heavily. As a viewer of the show and reader of the book, I did not view the actions of Hannah’s “reasons” as harmless, and felt that had she been able to turn to others around her for help, the course of her life would have been different. This is something we can apply to our lives too.


sakina abidi

Absolutely loved this poem, it’s really made me think about how we ridicule other people’s accents. Definitely worth a read.

Maps For Teeth

if, if, if —

if i could meet you,
small brown boy,
i’d take your shoulders and shake them,
ask you who taught you
that the way i speak
is not pretty.

why every white man
you must deem conventional and attractive

why the way our coach speaks
with a French lilt
is not just widely acceptable,
but lends him this tone
and inflection we like,
like the way the Italian sings,
like the way the white man speaks.

if i could visit you
tiny brown girl
i’d make you question
why the way brown men speak
remind you of dilli streets
filled with litter,
rickshaw wallah’s gestures,
and stray dogs barking.
why do you cringe the way you do?
(do you wince the same at home?)

why is my and your accent thick and heavy?
like it’s a burden,
like the way
cuts your tongue
is nothing

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2016- a retrospective on sexual consent

Placid Renascence


now isn’t that an intimidating title?

When I was younger, having a little mystery in the title always seemed like a better way to make these posts more appealing- the invitation of the unknown, to come find what I’m trying to unpack and explain to you as you read on.

This is one of those rare posts where I really just want to get to the heart of the matter as soon as possible. Sexual consent is a concept I really have never been educated on. Not in a classroom, not with an adult, not in a workshop, or through an institution.

I’ve seen click bait Buzzfeed posts about it, Tab articles about it, HuffPost women excerpts mentioning the need to be aware of it- but everyone out on the internet seems to place vital importance on emphasizing just how crucial it is while simultaneously skirting around just WHAT…

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Zen Thoughts at Big Sur

Warwick Travel Society

This post was written by our Media Editor, Sonali Gidwani. You can check out the original post here.

The featured image is that of Big Sur, one of the most beautiful coastal cliffs in the world. Big Sur, along with the various spectacular sights along the Californian Coast’s Pacific Highway completely changed my perception of the United States. It reminded me that this wasn’t white man’s land, but belonged exclusively to it’s indigenous people and to nature. The towering redwood trees, clear blue waves crashing against treacherous rocks and omnipresent, unrelenting sunshine offered an escape from the capitalist image that impressions of America so readily subscribe to.

Of course, I didn’t think about all of this while on my road trip. I was only fifteen at the time and could barely formulate responses to the world around me beyond anything written for my GCSE English coursework.

We drove from LA…

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A Reflection on the 2016 Financial Year — The Vocal Hub

2016 has undoubtedly been one of the most politically and socially tumultuous years we have experienced in our short lifetimes. It’s worth taking a look at what has happened in the realms of politics, finance and global economy this year, in order to understand the repercussions these events will have in the coming year, 2017.…

via A Reflection on the 2016 Financial Year — The Vocal Hub

What I’m Grateful For in 2016

What really is there to be grateful for in 2016? The year has been full of strife and struggle on a personal level for many, including myself. The world has seen the rise of the alt-right in the United States, challenges to free trade in the abolition of TPP and TTIP, as well as Brexit, the Syrian conflict is razing Syria to the ground, and taking scores of innocent men, women and children with it. Many celebrities and people worthy of admiration and accolades have passed away this year.

It’s definitely going to be a year we need to reflect on, both on a personal level and in terms of the new world we will see in 2017. I, for one, could not have made it through the year the way I have without the support of my family and friends. And because it’s the last day of the year, I thought I’d send them all a very cheesy message. I wanted to cringe as I’d finished writing it, but I sent it out anyway. Why should we cringe when we’re expressing love and gratitude for our loved ones? We might not tell them how we feel everyday, we might even poke fun at each other on a daily basis, but we know that we couldn’t do without them.

So, with this is mind, I sent out the following message:

“As it’s the end of one of the hardest years of our lives, I just thought I’d say thank you, and I love you so much. I’m really glad our friendship/family is as strong as ever”

So, despite dealing with the loss of loved ones, dealing with disappointments on a variety of different levels, and dealing with world news, I have come out of 2016 as a stronger person.

I’ve also grasped a lot of various opportunities in 2016. I applied for a job that I did not think I would get. I’ve learned about digital marketing. I’ve learned what makes my friendships special. I’ve rediscovered what I love about my family. I’ve signed up for a whole host of writing and marketing projects and I’ve realised that I don’t ever want to stop learning.

And with that, I’m going to leave you with some of my favourite photos from 2016. While it’s been a hard year, I’ve appreciated many moments of it.

Believe In You

Most of my close friends and I identify as third culture kids. We’ve had countless discussions about where we feel like we’re from, where we can call home and if we need to be pinned down by one place in particular.

Both my mother and one of my similarly confused third-culture friends, recently send me a link to a mini-documentary. The first line that popped up on the screen read:

“Can you make it in America without erasing your cultural identity?”

That’s a question we’ve often asked ourselves. Can we make it in the West, or in any foreign land, without losing ourselves? For most of my life, I’ve felt a bit lost. Not quite Indian, not quite a Hong Konger, definitely not British. I’ve tried to be all of those things, and then gave up trying to be anything after a while.

Also, sometimes in a so-called “global sphere”, “professional setting” or “diverse group” it’s not always appropriate to act or be a certain way, mainly because it could infringe on other people’s spaces, or an environment in general. The way I’m describing this is a little ambiguous, but let’s say you’re in a professional office environment, it’s natural to want to fit in with the majority. But what happens when you come home feeling drained at the end of the day, in a foreign land? When you put up too many fronts, the pretence can be jarring.

So, as a third-culture kid, I’ve definitely connected more to being Indian at university, but at the same time I’ve also become more comfortable with being in a stateless state. I wear my triple citizenship with pride, and I feel like it makes me more open and less judgmental of different walks of life, and different belief systems.

So why descend into the usual cultural confusion discussion? Because the quote we’ve just been discussing comes from a documentary about Raja Kumari, and upcoming hip-hop artist from Los Angeles. And yes, she’s Indian.

Raja Kumari (real name Svetha Rao) combines her love of hip-hop, her amazing vocal talents and signature street style with Bharatnatyam, popular Indian tunes and passion-infused lyrics. She laments on cultural indifference in her new track “Mute” featuring Elvis Brown, which could easily be the next hip-hop anthem of the lower floor of Smack (a club in my university town).

But it’s her track, Believe In You, that really speaks to me. The video and lyrics speak of growing into your cultural confusion, and embracing your ancestry as well as your current situation. The video pans from her childhood Bharatnatyam videos to her confidently dancing in a temple in Malibu (the juxtapostion is unreal).

Huge shoutout to Mum and Anu for introducing me to this fab artist. Raja Kumari’s EP is available for purchase as of November 17th, and her tracks are out on Spotify too. She was nominated for a Grammy in 2015 for writing a song with Fall Out Boy, and has also written songs for Fifth Harmony and Gwen Stefani.

It’s extremely inspirational to have an Indian person enter the foray of hip hop and popular music. I really hope Raja Kumari climbs the music ladder as fast as possible, because the world needs to hear her music, and her message.