Am I Really Looking Forward to a ‘Heathers’ TV Show?

The very ’80s movie is now a very 2010s series. 
By  · Published on August 30th, 2017

The very ’80s movie is now a very 2018 series.

Insert memorable line from Heathers here. I’d actually choose one, and I know most of the script by heart, but that’s what everyone else does, and unlike Heather McNamara I don’t need to jump off a bridge just because it’s the trend. Speaking of bucking expectations, the upcoming Heathers TV series actually looks like it could be very.

Will this be the second show involving a Betty and a Veronica that I assume will be awful and then becomes a new obsession? Like Riverdale, which is based on the Archie comics I fanatically read through my childhood, Heathers has been an important part of my life. For me, it’s on the side of nostalgia where I’ve been against any sort of resurrection, sequel, remake, or what have you.

The dark high school comedy, which yes named its Betty and Veronica after the Archie characters, seems to have already influenced Riverdale, bringing the inspiration full circle and adding to its edgier appeal. Heathers also clearly informed Mean Girls, which is far funnier and much sharper than it needed to be.

Still, every time something directly related to Heathers entered the rumor or news cycle, I loudly groaned. The Heathers sequel where an adult Veronica (Winona Ryder) deals with “Heathers” in the workplace, that seemed to piggyback on the idea of a grown-up Ferris Bueller’s Day Off sequel repeating its premise in an adult setting? That didn’t even deserve my fucking protest rant.

Then there was the Off-Broadway Heathers musical, which didn’t bother me because it was easily ignored, in spite of its critical acclaim. It wasn’t easily seen and didn’t last too long. Plus, every movie gets a musical at some point. And they don’t tend to harm the source, regardless of whether they’re successful or not.

Finally, there’s the TV series. Or multiple TV series threats that have been in development over the years. There was one idea to have it be a 20-years-later sequel focused on Veronica and her daughter, and then there was the idea to do a remake/reboot set in the present. Who needed that? The movie is very much of its time, and anything modernized would just be another generic CW show for sure.

Well, the first trailer for an actual Heathers series debuted this week via Instagram, and it’s got a freshness that seems promising. The three titular mean girls at the center of the story are now a plus-size queen bee for Heather Chandler (Melanie Field), an African-American Heather McNamara (Jasmine Mathews), and a genderqueer Heather Duke (Brendan Scannell).

Ironically, the only people complaining about the show seem to not be us true diehard Heathers fans but terrible, intolerant Ram and Kurt types — the very people who couldn’t possibly like the original property unless they miss the point. Not in the trailer, by the way: Betty Finn is now Asian American (Nikki SooHoo). Maybe that affects the Archie reference by not having her be a blonde to Veronica’s raven-haired brunette, but whatever.

The Veronica here (Grace Victoria Cox) doesn’t have dark hair anyway. I’ll admit I’m a little disappointed that she doesn’t have a darker quality to her look, but neither does her J.D. (James Scully), and I’m open to everything getting a makeover here. Even Martha “Dumptruck” now being thin and renamed Shelby.

With such a brief teaser, it’s difficult to have a strong opinion about too much. However, the utterance of “fuck me gently with a chainsaw” by Veronica instead of Heather C. here seems forced and used incorrectly. Now it’s basically “good grief” instead of “well, I’ll be darned.” Also: does the show have to recycle the iconic dialogue? Can it find new and original sound bites to go with its new look?

But the tone, supplemented by Phantogram’s “Run Run Blood,” and the quick glimpse of the novelty of the Heathers show have me generally intrigued and a little bit excited. I’m definitely not as worried or bothered as I thought I’d be. It helps that other recently shows based on movies, namely Fargo and Bates Motel, have been great surprises. Plus I can’t wait to see how original Heathers actress Shannen Doherty figures into the show.

I do say it better be keener than writer Jason A. Micallef’s political satire Butter and director Leslye Headland’s comedy Bachelorette. This is a story of kids killing kids, after all. It has to strike the right beat with its balance of taste and vulgarity, especially given the regularity of suicide and school shootings since the movie’s release.

Despite being teased just as the new fall TV season is being promoted heavily, Heathers doesn’t arrive until sometime next year, via the Paramount Network (formerly Spike TV). I have plenty of time before then to change my mind, but right now I’m seeing no up-chuck factor in what this thing is feeding us.

Check out more first looks at the main characters below.

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Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.