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Thirteen Reasons Why in San Rafael

It’s hard not to have heard of the best-selling novel Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, given how popular it is. In the story, thirteen audio tapes passed to high school student Clay Jensen tell the haunting prerecorded tale of the late Hannah Baker, Clay’s crush who recently committed suicide. All in one night, Clay listens to thirteen reasons why Hannah killed herself. The book explores themes of self-discovery, depression, sexual assault, teen angst, romance, and other topics relevant to much of the youth of today. It has been on the New York Times Bestseller List for eight years straight, has been translated into over 30 languages, and is read around the world. After being published in 2007, it is still number ten on the New York Times Bestseller List for young adult books and has won numerous awards.

Jay Asher was inspired to write a book about suicide when a close relative of his attempted ending her life when she was a junior in high school. Soon, he connected that story to audio tapes, and began to write Thirteen Reasons Why. After it was published, the young adult novel rose in popularity. It secured a spot as a classic teen novel. Stemming from the story also came a movement, called 50 States Against Bullying. Jay Asher travelled to every state in the US to talk openly about bullying and teen suicide. It has started the #reasonswhyyoumatter hashtag which is used to inspire teens to stay positive and not consider suicide as an option. A number of teachers have also added the book to their curriculum. Overall, it is one of the most popular young adult novels of the decade.

In 2015, we learned from Netflix that they were finally going to adapt Thirteen Reasons Why into a thirteen episode television series, one tape per episode. The show is going to come from Paramount TV and Anonymous Content, with Selena Gomez as an executive producer along with Tom McCarthy. This will be her first time on the job, but Gomez isn’t new to the scene; she has been fighting for the anti-bullying movement with her mom for years, ever since she achieved fame on Wizards of Waverly Place on Disney channel. Saying she’s been in love with Thirteen Reasons Why ever since its release, she shows promise as the show’s producer. Katherine Langford is set to star as Hannah, and Dylan Minnette as Clay.

But that wasn’t the only interesting thing going on with Thirteen Reasons Why. They filmed most of it right here in Marin! San Rafael High School is the set of the high school mentioned in the book, and they have also used many locations around Marin. For example, they filmed a scene on Fourth Street with giant cameras and crowds of extras. They even caused problems for some of the businesses on the street, because no one could get through the crowd. But not only does it put a spotlight on our location, but our residents as well. Before summer of 2016, the show put out an open casting call for extras. Hundreds of Marin teens and adults attended the call. All you had to do was wait in line, get your picture taken, and answer a few questions before you were in, according to Terra Linda High School’s sophomore Miranda Craig. She talks about the scene she was filmed in as an extra. She wasn’t sure what parts they were filming, but they made her and 60 or so other extras walk down a street and sit in a classroom at San Rafael High School. When asked if she was excited to be in the show, she responded that she didn’t know if anyone would see her in the scene (because there were so many other extras), but that “it was really fun and cool,” especially since she had “loved the book so much.”

As well as filming in San Rafael, they have filmed in Novato, Sebastopol, and Vallejo. According to the Marin Independent Journal, this could help Marin’s local economy. With the cast and crew staying in hotels around Marin, eating from local restaurants, and bringing attention to Marin’s natural beauty, it could significantly help local businesses and tourism.  

Thirteen Reasons Why does not sound like a show to miss. It’s based on an incredible book, is filmed in places TL students actually live, and there’s a chance you might even recognize someone you know in the background of the show. So, when the show is finally aired on Netflix, don’t forget to watch- not only for the story, but for our community.

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