Sonoma County places and faces show up in Netflix series ‘13 Reasons Why’
By now, it’s well-known that the high school scenes in the hit Netflix series “13 Reason Why” are shot at Analy High School in Sebastopol, where filming for the third season is set to resume in August. Called Liberty High in the show and set in the fictional town of Crestmont, Analy has been a key locale since the series premiered in March last year.
“It was really tough to find a high school with an iconic look that would be different than any other high school show,” Joy Gorman, one of the executive producers for the series, said in a recent email interview. “Analy has such a beautiful facade and campus, and yet it feels like a diverse cross-section of students would go there of different socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds. We didn’t want Liberty to seem like a pristine boarding school, but still wanted it to be beautiful on camera.”
However, Analy is not the only Sonoma County locale to play a role in the controversial show that deals with teen suicide. For the show’s second season, which drew 6 million viewers within its first three days of release on Netflix in May, scenes were shot at the Epicenter arcade and indoor sports center in northwest Santa Rosa last August and the downtown Santa Rosa Plaza last September.
Local scenery provides a wholesome contrast to the somber and often provocative tone of the series, a stark difference that adds to the show’s visual and emotional impact.
“We were looking for an idyllic town that felt like it could be anywhere in America, and also didn’t look familiar, like you’ve seen it on television before.” Gorman said. “We thought there was something very inspiring and magical about the lush greenery and history of Sonoma County, and it gave the show a more elegant look than what audiences expect to see in a show about teenagers.”
Concerns raised by mental health professionals and a parental watchdog group over the show’s depiction of suicide, rape and sexual abuse prompted the inclusion of warning advisories for the second season. But the series also has prompted others to speak up in its defense, to say it offers a way of dealing with issues that real teenagers face.
“These things really happen, not just on TV. Is it pretty? No. Is it hard to watch? Absolutely,” said one of the show’s local fans, Santa Rosa contractor Jessica Hampton, 47. “I think anything that can open a dialog with children and parents or peers about these things is critically important.”
For Hampton, one of the pleasures of watching the series is spotting glimpses.
“As a West County native, I’ve really enjoyed the local scenery in ‘13 Reasons Why.’ My friends and I watched the first season together, and in addition to being totally drawn into the plot, we would point excitedly when we saw some location we recognized,” Hampton said.
Actress Katherine Langford, who won a Golden Globe award for best actress in a series for her portrayal of Hannah, announced in late May, before the show was renewed again, that she wouldn’t return for a third season. A spokesperson for “13 Reasons Why” said it’s too soon to disclose what direction the story for the third season will take. Release is expected midway through 2019.