5 Ways a 'Heathers' Remake Will Turn the Glorious Dark Comedy into a Hot Campy Mess

The 1988 cult classic Heathers is one of those films you watch with a mantra of "how did this ever get made?" running through your head. It's a dark, bleak, and edgy comedy about high school prom, teen murder, and a pack of A-list girls all named Heather. Given its posthumous success (it flopped in theaters but quickly became a video store sellout), it's no wonder there have been so many attempts at a remake. "Attempts" is key, though -- none of the proposed TV series have made it off the ground. But TV Land is apparently hoping to reverse the pattern: The Hollywood Reporter reports that there is another Heathers reboot in the works -- and this time in an anthology format. 

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In 2014, the film was rebuilt into an off-Broadway musical, and though it was the first Heathers remake to actually get to the point of having an audience, it was not well received. But at its worst, the musical version just stripped Heathers of its black comedy and dumbed the discussion down to boring, popular-eat-unpopular ensemble songs.

From what we've heard so far (which, admittedly, isn't much), the folks behind the Heathers anthology want to keep the comedy and keep the edginess, but they want to do it with a slew of modern-day topics and a good measure less self-awareness. Which, obviously, sounds like a terrible idea.

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Heathers without the darkness is Clueless or Mean GirlsHeathers without the self-awareness is a mess at best and enormously offensive at worst.

So what could possibly go wrong? Here's our list.

  1. It could be enormously offensive. The idea of this Heathers reboot is to replace the classically popular 1988 Heathers with a gang of present-day popular girls who would have been gutted by the OG Heathers if they'd ever met. To use The Hollywood Reporter's words, these Heathers are "a black lesbian," "a male who identifies as gender-queer whose real name is Heath," and a Heather who "has a body like Martha Dumptruck."

    It's an interesting idea, but already, the language they're using (assuming this language is being taken straight from TV Land) to talk about these new Heathers seems off -- saying Heather has a "body like Martha Dumptruck" (who in the original is the overweight girl picked on by the Heathers) is making her feel more like a punchline than a complex character worth watching. Using "real name" -- or "real" anything -- when talking about gender identity undermines people's power to be someone (instead of just seem like someone) and ultimately reveal their true selves. It's not the most egregious error, but it's not inspiring much optimism that they'll have the sensitivity to do it right in the end.

  2. They might miss the subtleties. And they might, of course, end up being horribly offensive. The original Heathers was full of delicate dialogue and camera work that taught lessons about life, love, friendship, revenge, drugs, sexuality, rape, and general morality without resorting to condescending spoon-feeding. Satire is hard, and it takes finesse to pull off. 

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  3. They might miss the point. Heathers stars a slew of unlikable characters that you can't help but root for, even as they're murdering their friends and blowing up schools. They're anti-hero underdogs left in complex situations from which they're asked to escape with no tools but slippery dialogue and a bold color scheme.

    Heathers is not supposed to be easy to swallow, but there's nothing redeeming or valuable about it without the duality of the characters and situations. If you miss the complexity, you miss the point.

    And the point, by the way, is not to be a melodramatic PSA about teen suicide or bullying. That was Glee.

  4. They'll struggle with the anthology format. Though recent shows like FargoAmerican Horror Story, and True Detective have done anthologies justice (maybe with the exception of True Detective season two, but whatever), it's not easy to pull off. Each season has to introduce new characters and a new story, and they all have to be equally engaging and interesting for new reasons. If we're this wary about one reincarnation of Heathers, we're downright terrified about what they'll come up with when they're strapped at season four, five, or six.

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  5. It could just be another Scream QueensIf "The Chanels" of Scream Queens sounds like "The Heathers" of Heathers, it's because they were meant to be that way. Ryan Murphy teased Scream Queens as a "Halloween meets Heathers," and he's the current king of sharp and saturated teen TV. But we don't need another Scream Queens

    The new Heathers wants to cast a gay black woman as the alpha instead of a rich blonde girl. It's a great idea, but if that's the only difference between the Heathers anthology and Scream Queens, we'll be in trouble. One pack of Chanels is enough, thanks. 

All that said, they might nail it. There's some potential here, just ... not enough to really give us hope.

 

Image via Archive Photos/Stringer/Getty Images

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