Is Tony gay in '13 Reasons Why'? Here's how the TV show adds LGBTQ characters.

Is Tony gay in '13 Reasons Why'? Here's how the TV show adds LGBTQ characters.
Source: Netflix
Source: Netflix

In the transition from book to Netflix series, a decent portion of 13 Reasons Why was changed. Characters' motivations were altered, the timeline was stretched and the conclusion was left more open-ended to allow for a potential second season.

One of the most notable differences, however, was how much queerer the show became, with the addition of several explicitly gay characters who either weren't in the source material or whose sexuality was changed.

(Editor's note: Spoilers for Netflix's 13 Reasons Why ahead.)

The most significant of these is Tony, a friend of protagonist Clay Jensen and, as Clay describes him, an "unhelpful Yoda" figure. He's a bit of a mystery in the show, playing coy about exactly how much he knows when it comes to Hannah Baker's suicide and the tapes she left behind. One thing that's not a mystery, however, is his sexuality: He's shown with two different boyfriends throughout the show. It's played for laughs in episode eight, when Clay is surprised to learn Tony is gay. He's not the most observant guy, to say the least.

Christian Navarro, Josh Hamilton and Dylan Minnette in '13 Reasons Why'
Source: 
Beth Dubber/Netflix

Other major gay characters are either not primarily defined by their sexuality — like Tony's boyfriends, Ryan and Brad — or their stories are hardly considered humorous. Courtney is the most noteworthy example, as her experimentation with Hannah and embarrassment over being photographed in the act led her to betray her friend by spreading malicious gossip.

Confronted over her actions in the fifth episode, Courtney tells Clay she couldn't come out, despite having two gay dads herself. Instead of making her more comfortable, her upbringing actually made her more cautious: She saw what her dads went through before LGBTQ people became more accepted in society, and she doesn't want to put them through that again.

While 13 Reasons Why isn't a perfect depiction of modern teen life, in this particular way, the creators do something compelling and inclusive that reflects the real world — for good and for ill.

13 Reasons Why is now streaming on Netflix.

Mic has ongoing 13 Reasons Why coverage. Follow our main 13 Reasons Why hub here.

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Kevin O'Keeffe

Kevin is the arts editor at Mic, writing about inclusion and representation in pop culture. He is based in New York and can be reached at kevin@mic.com.

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