The Most Important Cars from Netflix’s ’13 Reasons Why’

A dark story about the trials of youth and how vehicles play a leading role.

byMark Sanew|
Culture photo


In America, kids and adults share different struggles often tied to financial status, race, religion and a laundry list of other items. 13 Reasons Why, a newly released show on Netflix, adapts a popular book written about a teenage female who experiences the worst of high school.  This bleak look at emotional trauma largely focuses on the people around her.  While the story exposes difficult topics including bullying and emotional abuse, the hidden characters of the story are the cars and SUVs on the show

Audi S5 Cabriolet


The creators of the story used very specific vehicles to help shape characters identities.  One of the male antagonists was set apart from the crowd by constantly rolling around in his Audi S5.  That car was a representation of his social class to set him apart from the others.

Jeep Grand Cherokee


In a scene prior to a school dance, the main character Hannah was concerned about driving her parents' old Jeep and pleaded with them to rent a limo. Her parents argued that the cost of that rental was too high to justify it.  Her character shared a sense of embarrassment that was later reversed when it was revealed her father upgraded his lease to acquire a new Jeep just so she could pick up her friends in a new car.  Soon Hannah picked up her girlfriends, and the point is immediately made that her parents must have been well-off financially...despite the opposite being true.

1968 Ford Mustang


The largest unspoken character, a 1968 Ford Mustang, was driven by one of the show's most mysterious characters.  The vehicle represents many things—most importantly, irony. The vehicle is analog, requiring work—but near the end of the showm it also represents freedom.  The Mustang was an old soul and stabilizing force throughout the series, popping in and out of to disrupt the emotional elements.  The Mustang represents escape, hope and the ability to take us places in the future.  As a society the vehicle can be a safe and therapeutic experience to temporarily or permanently walk away from the things that consume humanity.