Most of my television viewing is done via Roku from seven streaming channels — Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Acorn, PBS, Warner Archive, and YouTube.
There are about a million other channels available, devoted to all kinds of subjects. You could probably find a channel that lets you watch paint dry.
When desperate, lazy or simply tired, I click on programs without thinking, mostly on Netflix, streaming's answer to the supermarket impulse-shopping zone — aka the checkout line — where you are surrounded by things that aren't good for you, like candy bars and tabloids.
When Netflix smacked me in the face with a 13-part series called "13 Reasons Why," I impulsively started watching episode one. This series is based on a book about Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford), a high school junior who commits suicide after taping her saga of teenage angst, blaming certain people and incidents for ruining her life.
I USED TO BE a sucker for films about teenagers. Don't know why. Maybe because I enjoyed high school, and had lots of fun as a teenager. But I stopped watching teenage films in 1999, quitting while I was ahead, after the very entertaining, "Ten Things I Hate About You."
"13 Reasons Why" clearly is aimed at teenagers. The producers and Netflix might also tout the series for adults concerned about the teenage suicide. Some self-appointed TV critics labeled the show "must-see TV," the stupid cliché that was no more true when NBC coined it.
Apparently the best-selling young adult novel by Jay Asher resonated with teenagers. There reportedly are big differences between the book and the series (Surprise! Surprise!), but I wouldn't know what those are.
I stayed with the series longer than intended, because I wanted to know how it ended. Was anyone held responsible for the girl's death? And those kids she felt mistreated her, did they learn anything from her tapes?
HOWEVER, I could not shake viewing habits developed from watching far too many movies and television programs. I also had a job — newspaper TV critic — that put me in contact with people in the entertainment and television industry.
As a result, I was often distracted by details that — drip! drip! drip! — not only prevented me from enjoying "13 Reasons Why", but drove me to skip a few episodes in my haste to finish the program.
Here, in no particular order, and in the spirit of the late Andy Rooney (imagine his whiny voice), are more than 13 things that bugged me about "13 Reasons Why."
• It was obvious the top priority for producers was to stretch the story to 13 episodes to match the number in the title.
• There was no valid reason for 13 separate tapes. Nor did I believe for a second that Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette), the boy who investigated Hannah's story, couldn't bring himself to listen to more than one tape without a long break.
• Justin and Zach, introduced during the party that opens the series, could not have been the school's star athletes. They hadn't even started their sophomore years.
• During Hannah's sophomore year, where was the senior class? Studying abroad? And what school brings in four foreign students during the middle of the semester?
• Why was every school activity dominated by sophomores and juniors?
• At what large high school is the yearbook photographer a sophomore? (Nerdy Tyler, who plays the photographer, had to be a sophomore in the series so that he could still be a student for the much-dreaded second season, when he will load the guns he's hiding in his footlocker and go gunning for several students also introduced in season one.)
• Biggest disappointment was the show's most interesting teen, Hannah's mysterious friend, Kat (Giorgia Whigham), disappeared early in the first episode and didn't appear again until the finale. Never explained is how and where Kat and Hannah met. Kat, you see, is moving away, while Hannah just arrived in town.
• How can "star" basketball player, Zach Dempsey, score so many point with a flat-footed, I-will-not-jump shot. Even if he were guarded by Danny Devito, the shot would be stuffed down his throat. (According to imdb.com, Ross Butler, who plays Zach, is a half-inch taller than 6-foot-2, but looked several inches taller on screen because the other actors are Al Pacino-sized.)
• When the principal says the school's basketball team went to the state championship final last season, did anyone else think he must have been referring to a Biddy League tournament?
• Why does the supposedly troubled Hannah sound as flip as a Gilmore girl? And how can she be so articulate on her tapes, and such a zombie while talking to the school guidance counselor? Was she depressed, or vindictive?
• Wasn't it strange to give Hannah a job at an old movie theater on the main street in an unnamed village or city of unspecified size? And with Clay Jensen as her co-worker, did anyone else think they were watching "Fast Times at Liberty High"? I may have missed something, but the only movie patrons I saw during the whole series were one of Clay's ill-fated friends and his date. Another couple showed up a few episodes earlier, but Hannah's surly attitude in the ticket booth drove them away.
• On Valentine's Day, when Hannah told Clay she worked "the early shift," what was that exactly, 7 to 8 p.m.? And did you believe she'd impulsively call a known creep, accept his date invitation, then go to a diner-like restaurant last seen in the "Back to the Future" movies, and wait for the creep until he shows up an hour late? And why was this creep, supposedly a popular guy at school, still available when Hannah finished working?
• Speaking of Valentine's Day, did anyone believe a school would endorse a fund-raiser that was nothing more than a dating service?
• Would any school allow a panel of students to decide the punishment for two students who had a prolonged fight in front of the school? And if a school had such an "honor" panel, wouldn't it be made up of seniors? (Funniest thing about this scene was the presence of an "extra", a girl who had no lines, whose primary function was to show the audience, yeah, there are other students in the school.)
• Would any school sanction or distribute a student-run publication that published a list that named a girl someone thought had the best ass in the sophomore class?
• Likewise, would any school circulate a "literary magazine" that published an anonymous poem interpreted as a cry for help?
• Did anyone else think for a long time that Tony (Christian Navarro, left), the student who functions as a sort of Clarence (the angel from "It's a Wonderful Life"), was a figment of Clay's imagination?
• And was Tony a student or an undercover cop? Clay walks out of school one day, the counselor chases after him, but waiting out front, in his Mustang, is the ever-present Tony, ready to whisk Clay away.
• And that scene when Tony bullies Clay into rock-climbing, with the promise he'd learn something about Hannah at the top ... wasn't it just pointless filler? All Clay learned is he's stupid enough to let Tony bully him into climbing a rock.
• Tony's hair — does he have it styled at Jiffy Lube?
• Like those old radio shows, when listeners waited and waited to hear a character's signature line — such as Chester Riley's "What a revoltin' development this is?" — I found myself waiting for Justin to say once again, "What're we gonna do about Clay? It's time to shut him down!"
• When Hannah Baker's father said he'd moved the family to wherever Liberty High was located because his drug store in a suburban city could not compete with WalPlex (another name for you-know-what), wasn't it strange that his new drug store was also competing with the same superstore chain? Yes, supposedly this second WalPlex just opened, but it would have been well-known around town for at least two years that a WalPlex was coming. Unless it was pre-fabricated, or thrown up overnight like an old-fashioned barn-raising.
• And when Hannah's father mentioned his daughter had problems with nasty girls at her old school, didn't you wonder why her parents were a bit blasé about her new school ... until it was far too late? And didn't this hint the problem might be with Hannah, and not with other people?
• Why didn't Hannah shut the blinds and pull the drapes in her bedroom? Or leave her light on the night she had a plan to catch the stalker? Even a third grader knows it's easier to see outside from a darkened room. Otherwise, all you see in the window is your own reflection. (Yeah, I know, the real purpose of the second night in her room was to reveal that Courtney, who was Hannah's temporary friend of convenience, was a lesbian.)
• And after his unusually large bedroom windows had been hit by rocks thrown by others who'd listened to Hannah's tapes, why did Tyler continue to leave them uncovered, and undress with lights on? Why hadn't his father boarded them up? Obviously he knew more rocks would be thrown.
• Considering how many times Hannah ignored experience and willingly placed herself in harm's way, was anyone else reminded that "insanity is to keep doing the same thing over again, expecting a different result"?
And so it was that was during episode six of "13 Reasons Why," I finally began questioning my sanity (and did not like the answer).
Perhaps some day the story will get the three-hour, two-episode treatment it deserves.
Until then, feel free to go crazy.