Tv Review: Heathers Season 1 Episode 1

I was fifteen years old when Heathers came out at the cinema in the UK, pretty much the target age for it, and I loved it to pieces, I hadn’t seen much black comedy at that point and it’s casual brutality and satire appealed greatly. Throw in a crush on Winona Ryder and thinking that Christian Slater was incredibly cool (I know, but I was young and the teenage me often had terrible taste in things) and it quickly became a movie I watched many a time over. It’s even possible I bought a long coat akin to Slater’s in the movie and wore it for about two years (and two, long, relationship free years at that!) such was my fondness for the film. So when I heard it was being rebooted for tv I had a vague interest in seeing it, only for it then to be removed from the schedules due to a spate of school shootings, and now apparently the final two episodes have been condensed in to one and a lot of the violence removed so as not to offend. But even without such edits this would still be a terrible tv show.

It opens with a flashback to eight years ago, with Que Sera Sera being played over the scene, because hey, why not rip off the original movie from the get go rather than doing something new with the idea. There’s also a fair sprinkling of dialogue from the film (like Heather’s infamous “Fuck me gently with a chainsaw”) which is a terrible mistake as it means you can’t help compare it to the movie, and it comes off not only second best but third, fourth and fifth too. The first scene sees a woman (Shannen Doherty, the only member of the original cast to cameo in the show) set fire to her home and blow her brains out in front of her son, which we later discover that this is J.D.’s origin story, and boy is it a daft one. Then we’re back to the present day and a voice over introducing the lead character Veronica (Grace Victoria Cox), before she hangs out with the Heathers.

One of the main differences to the film is that the Heathers are quite diverse here, with the lead Heather (Melanie Field) being plus sized and alternative looking, whilst one (Brendan Scannell) is male and the third Heather (Jasmine Mathews) is black, and they pretend to be politically correct and walk around making the lives of others miserable if they step out of line. A lot of cattiness follows, but when Veronica callously fat shames the lead Heather her life threatens to spin out of control, and so she starts wishing Heather would die. In the original film they managed to make Veronica seem sympathetic but that’s not the case here and she almost manages to be more unlikeable than the Heathers themselves.

I was going to start off this paragraph with the line “Worst of all”, but I’m not sure that’s the case as there’s so many bad things about this show. But one of the most galling aspects is how they’ve mishandled J.D. (James Scully), once again he’s cynical and detached but they’ve managed to make him irritating and tedious, he’s initially called out by Veronica as an over dramatic loser and it’s hard to disagree. The performance is pretty terrible too, he has none of Christian Slater’s charm and his smug face is shockingly punchable, and I’m one of those tiresome pacifist types who hates real life violence. Soon enough he and Veronica are friends but they have no chemistry together, and his supposedly intelligent remarks like “The thing about parties, my dear, is that they’re not about location, they’re about who you’re with” are patronisingly obvious and not filled with wisdom like the writers seem to think they are, and most of the time his attempts at being charismatic come across as creepy.

It’s filled with tacky dialogue, with the male Heather uttering nonsense like “Oh my clit”, whilst the lead Heather at one point says “What the queef is this?”, and her apparent death scene is a ridiculously idiotic one, where she collapses to the floor two seconds after taking a German suicide pill that J.D. claims he accidentally gave her. But then it turns out she’s not actually dead at all, though no one thought to check for hours on end, which is so ludicrous it beggars belief. I tried to find some positives to say about the episode but really struggled, I guess there are a couple of amusing parts – the school motto is a Kim Kardashian quote which raised a small smile, Wallace Langham (Phil from The Larry Sanders Show) who plays Veronica’s dad has the odd funny line, and the drama teacher’s elegy contains one amusing joke, but that’s about it really.

This really is a painful show to watch, the script is one of the worst I’ve ever heard and nearly every line made me cringe. It tries to be satirical but fails miserably in it’s bluntness, and pisses on the memory of the original from a great height (quite possibly the moon) and is actively anger inducing. One of the worst tv shows that I’ve seen this year, if not this decade.

Alex Finch.

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