'Heathers' the reboot series is receiving backlash from the community for its new portrayal of cult classic characters (Image via Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
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'Heathers' the reboot series is receiving backlash from the community for its new portrayal of cult classic characters (Image via Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

The new ‘Heathers’ TV series premiere just got delayed, but do people want it to air in the first place?

The original 1988 “Heathers” was one of the most controversial films of its time. It was dark, comedic, satirical and it brought scrutiny to serious topics in such a unique way that just demanded attention.

It became a cult classic, continuing to inspire movies and shows that eventually became classic themselves, such as “Mean Girls” and “Glee.”

It even prompted a quite successful Broadway adaption in 2010 — two decades after the original film came out. The brand new 2018 reboot of the film is receiving just as much controversy as the original but for an entirely different array of reasons.

Many people were surprised to hear that a reboot for “Heathers” had come about and, to add to the shock of getting another reboot (aside from the musical), this remake isn’t just going to be another movie.

No, they decided to turn the famous cult classic into a 10-episode series. The amount of backlash from just the teaser of the reboot series was astounding.

It has become almost a tradition to expect any type of sequel, remake or reboot to be even the slightest bit disappointing, but this was on a level of its own.

The public has a justified reason against people messing with their nostalgic memories of the film though. This new “Heathers” TV series hasn’t just taken the plot of the original and molded it to fit the modern age, but it completely changes everything about the film in every other way.

This new series will reverse the roles everyone has come to know so well with a cast of typically targeted outcasts for the roles of the Heathers.

The main Heather, Heather Chandler, will be portrayed by Melanie Field as a heavyset diva queen bee.

Heather Duke, played by Brendan Scannell, will be a queer student and Heather McNamara, played by Jasmine Matthews, will be a biracial girl posing as a lesbian.

The protagonist of the film, Veronica Sawyer, will be featured as a blue-eyed, blonde-haired teen (played by Grace Victoria Cox) in stark contrast to an eccentric, almost emo/gothic looking version of the original played by Winona Ryder.

While the show will be sticking to the overarching theme of the original film, which follows how young Veronica progressively gets tired of the hierarchy of the Heathers and accidentally ends up killing Heather number one, the execution of the plot has everyone either questioning or rejecting it.

The presence of the LGBT+ community in the movie is the first flagging sign. LGBT+ characters in the reboot react to their own identities as if they are making them up for attention.

For example, at one-point Veronica is asked by a counselor if she might be “a hermaphrodite” to make her essays for college more appealing.

In other words, she is asked to use her identity as a tool to beg for attention, which is something rub people in all the wrong ways. Having usually marginalized types of characters not only in power but also in the position of the bullies also seems out of place.

Not only is such a situation unlikely to happen but it also sends out an attention-seeking vibe when the filmmakers decide to portray marginalized characters in extreme position.

Another major factor that has people turning away from the series is the amount of mass/gun violence involved. Now if you’ve seen the original “Heathers” then you know that violence is going to be a part of it. In fact, violence plays an essential part in the dark, satirical humor that makes up most of the film.

The difference with the show so far though, based on what the audience is presented in the trailer and the pilot, is that the acceptance of said violence.

In the original film, Veronica has problems accepting the deaths she caused at first, but in the end, she fights against it because she knows it’s wrong. The new Veronica, however, seems happy to go along with her psycho boyfriend.

Audiences are left to wonder how the new Veronica will send a message about gun violence in the reboot series (Image via WordPress)

Another reason people might be having trouble stomaching the violence in this show now would be the recent atmosphere the U.S. regarding students and gun violence.

In fact, Paramount Network just recently announced that they were going to delay the official premiere of the show, which was originally scheduled on March 7, 2018, in conscience and respect of the victims of the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

The pilot episode of the show is probably still available on the Paramount Network site, but there has been no official release date since the delay was announced. The sensitivity to gun violence lately also brings into question the timing of the show and if it’s really okay to show teens more of it on their screens.

Many films and shows nowadays share the same concern over the amount of violence depicted, but with a plot like “Heathers,” no matter how much they update it, the portrayal of violence is unavoidable. The question is how to moderate the original plot and the social sensitivity toward this topic.

The original film was controversial because it dealt with topics such as suicide, gun violence, bullying and homophobic tendencies. At the same time, that’s what made the film such a classic.

“Heathers” was a film that started a conversation through its unique and dark portrayal of the teenage world. This new reboot of it seems to be very different, but it’s still based on the same premise, and it has already achieved gaining people’s attention.

The reboot might not be great. It might end up filled with too much political correctness, and it will most definitely never be what the original was, but if it gets people talking and acting upon all of those taboo issues, then isn’t it worth it?

Of course, there is the possibility that the series will send out the wrong messages to the LGBT+ community. Yet, “Heathers” remains a powerful title with a powerful concept, and the reboot might end up encompassing that in the long run despite all the reasons it has given viewers so far to turn away from it.

Writer Profile

Valeria Garcia

University of Texas at Austin
English Major, Creative Writing Minor

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