At the top of smooth wooden stairs, a cherry red door is propped open, framed by white wooden pillars and flowering shrubs. The exterior of 2 Diane Lane is a familiar sight to many across the country—it was the set of Hannah Baker’s house in the wildly popular Netflix show “13 Reasons Why”—but is even more well known to the local community, as it is located just blocks away from Redwood.
Released March 30 of this year, “13 Reasons Why” revolves around the suicide of a high school girl and her 13 reasons for killing herself, each of which is a person in her life. Approximately a month after its premiere, it was 2017’s most tweeted-about show, with over 11 million tweets according to Variety magazine. It was popular among students as well, 59 percent of students self-reported having watched the show in a recent Bark survey.
The show was filmed exclusively in California, including many local areas such as San Rafael, Vallejo, Corte Madera and Petaluma.
The owners of 2 Diane Lane, Gillian Cassel and David Ripperton, were first approached a couple of months before the show began by an independent scout contracted by Paramount Pictures.
David Weber was the location scout and assistant location manager for the first season of “13 Reasons Why,” and will serve as a location scout for the second season as well. According to Weber, Hannah Baker’s house was chosen based partially off the script, but specifics were also provided by the crew.
“We collect a lot of houses. We read the script with the director, location manager and set designer and decide what kind of house will fit the person. They give us a description, and it comes from the story too. It gets refined from there, and it’s about trying to match the character to the home,” Weber said.
Each time they filmed there, it involved a large effort to completely transform the house, according to Cassel and Ripperton.
“Every time [the crew] came, they took all the furniture out, all the paintings, all the tchotchkes, everything, from Hannah’s room, the kitchen and breakfast nook. And then they replaced it with what they wanted,” Cassel said.
Besides relinquishing all of their furniture and personal items for several days, Cassel and Ripperton also had to spend the film days away from home due to the lack of space and amount of crew members present, which was about 100 according to Cassel.
Cassel watched all 13 episodes and believes that the acting improved over the course of the show.
“I thought the actors got better and better as they went along, and the story, well, I was glad my kids aren’t in high school to tell you the truth, because I think [high school] has changed,” Cassel said.
On the other hand, the subject and storyline didn’t appeal to her husband.
“I watched three episodes. It was well done but it just didn’t interest me,” Ripperton said.
Because Weber was involved in the production of the show, he watched the entirety of the season.
“I originally watched it because I worked on it—I was very invested in the show’s production for nine months. I wanted to see how all of it had come together, and how it actually felt when it was all done and put together. I don’t watch too many teen dramas,” Weber said. “Although originally I was just watching the production, I got into the story, which I thought was really well done. It opened up an important discussion and I’m happy to have worked on it.”
Cassel and Ripperton agreed that the show accurately portrayed the modern high school experience, which has undergone a great deal of change since they graduated themselves.
“I think it was very accurate. I don’t think she started out as mentally ill. I think that it’s a very vulnerable stage in life and some people are scarred for life because of what happened to them in high school and middle school,” Cassel said.
Ripperton added that a major difference between his high school experience and today’s is the presence of technology and social media, and that during his time at high school, bullying didn’t escalate to the same level as seen in “13 Reasons Why.”
“I don’t think we called it bullying, we just had cliques and friendships but it wasn’t as intense,” Ripperton said.
Although she found the subject matter disquieting, Cassel recognized the importance of bringing attention to the prominent issue of teenage suicide and bullying.
“I thought it was very disturbing but it made a very good point about social media bullying, which needed to be said,” Cassel said.
Weber praised the way the show handled sensitive topics and related it to the target audience.
“I think they did a good job of figuring out who the audience is, and creating a story that could relate to them in a way they could digest it,” Weber said.
Despite the amount of controversy surrounding the show’s depiction of mental illness and teenage suicide, a second season will be released sometime in 2018. However, this time an exact replica of 2 Diane Lane has been built, so the crew will be filming on a set instead of on location for convenience purposes.
“Now for the sequel, [Ripperton] gave them the blueprints for this area so they’ve staged it and made a set. They started filming in June or July,” Cassel said.