Well fuck me gently with a chainsaw (a true Heathers reference); it appears another moneygrabbing campaign is trying to remake another great story and update it to the modern day. The Paramount Network is stitching on the classic Heathers brand onto this monstrosity of a show like Leatherface trying to gain another mask. The trailer itself shows every reason as to why it should be destroyed before it sees the light of day. Don’t worry; if it’s not clear enough I’ll explain it thoroughly as I address the problems in order.
First off, “suck my third nipple?” I haven’t heard any phrase similar to that uttered since the 2000’s and early 2010’s by thirteen year-olds –not highschoolers. “How Banana Republic.” Nobody speaks like this. Not even the original Heather leader would say something like that. Either way, the only thing true at that point is the main Heather telling the other two to shut up. Although, this is largely questionable within itself. Body Positive White Heather is telling both Lesbian POC Heather and Genderqueer Heather to shut up. Um, hello? Does anyone writing this atrocity see the issues laden within that simple scene?
I think the only character that stayed relatively true to the original was JD, the attractive psychopath who is determined to go on a killing spree. It’s upsetting to think that that is the one aspect of this entire range of characters that stays the same and shows an underlying problem in society that still hasn’t been fixed by 2018. Only, of course he can’t only be a domestic terrorist, he also has to do drugs like adderall. Because cigarettes aren’t bad enough nowadays? The only thing to him they’ve more accurately updated is changing his economic status, which we can tell by the glimpses we get of his house that he is no longer from a family that is scraping on by.
The next thing that made me cringe was Veronica calling Body Positive Heather a “fatty” and playing the stereotypical audience gasp as some audience members to the prom cringe. Seriously? And what kind of followup to that is “you’re about to get flamed?” The way Veronica says “fatty” is as if she’s standing in a pre-school playground in the woodchips. This brings me to one of my final criticisms for the trailer.
Veronica is unrecognizable. At the very least, the Heathers still remain popular and the main Heather is still a bully. She is submissive. Veronica Sawyer from the original Heathers always was spunky, a multidimensional realistic character with a suitable amount of rebellion. This Heather wears a monocle —1:32 of the trailer if you didn’t catch that— and wears a unicorn shirt. When Heather is killed, her response isn’t a human one, it’s, “We’re going to be late for school.” Did they take inspiration from Logan Paul to the lack of tact? Seriously. Whose idea was that?
Also, whose idea was it to have a character say, in full seriousness, “Oh. my. clit.” NOBODY SPEAKS LIKE THIS. Do any of the writers ACTUALLY have a friend or even speak with someone who is a part of the LGBTQ+ spectrum? Making the Genderqueer Heather say ridiculous things like this just resorts to them to being just a stereotypical LGBTQ+ member. It’s like they placed buzzwords on a dart board and through them blindly to see where they landed. Genderqueer. Banana Republic. Body Positivity. Flawless. Mentally Challenged. Flamed.
Now there’s the issue of the new plot itself. Placing marginalized groups as the popular bullies doesn’t bode well with people from those groups. Everyone has the capacity to be an asshole, and I can remember times when I was bullied by people from just about all of those groups, but the fact of the matter that is probably the most damaging is the show runner Jason Micallef’s idea of changing the Heathers’ identities because of his idea of “people that wouldn’t have necessarily been considered the most popular kids in school in 1988 could very well be — and probably most likely are — the more popular kids today.”
Has this man done any sort of research? I went to a rather accepting high school where we had many LGBTQ+ students in all “rankings” of student society. That didn’t stop them from still getting bullied and people looking down on them. The truth of the matter is that Micallef has no connection or knowledge of the high schools of today and that things haven’t changed that drastically. The only school I could ever see a POC Lesbian, a Bodypositive girl, and a Genderqueer kid being the popular trio is potentially at a liberal arts college. Even at my art college —where you could say that straight people have become the only minority figure here— you don’t see these groups of kids being popular. Or at least, not nearly to the scale of the Heathers.
Systemic suppression is still around, and it is incredibly tone-deaf to imply otherwise and even place the oppressed as the role of the bullies. Speaking of bullies— how would Kurt and Ram’s whole plot line work? With all the representation in the other bullies it wouldn’t make sense for them to be framed as killing themselves because nobody would accept their sexuality. In this universe, it doesn’t seem logical to imply that due to the amount of acceptance elsewhere.
The original Heathers handled many of the same issues with poignant dark humor and a surprising amount of respect, or at least, surprising compared to what Heathers 2018 is dealing. The only other adaption I’ve seen this neglectful of the original material and the adaptation to make it “current” is Netflix’s butchering of Death Note. At least Death Note still had some aspects of the story right. Maybe I should dig out my old Death Note journal and write this TV show’s name in it. Maybe then it could be stopped.