Contemporary ‘Heathers’ Reboot with an Uncomfortable Spin Gets a Pilot Order by TV Land


Today in “frustrating reboot announcements news” comes this: TV Land has greenlit a pilot for a contemporary series based on the 1988 Winona Ryder and Christian Slater cult comedy, Heathers, in which Ryder and Slater’s characters collaborate to (violently) dismantle the most popular (and despised) clique in school. The film is beloved in part for its total ridiculousness, in part for its completely dark nerd revenge fantasy narrative, and mostly because it’s one of the most 80s specimens film history has to offer. Even if they pulled a Stranger Things, the makers of this TV series likely wouldn’t have pulled off an ’80s reboot of the ’80s movie. But I’m not sure what’s worse — hypothetically setting it in the same time as the original, or making it contemporary as they’re doing.

Sleeping with Other People’s Leslye Headland will be directing the pilot and Butter‘s Jason Micallef wrote the script; ultimately, the series is supposed to be an anthology, focusing each season on a new batch of Heathers. The first season’s batch will center on a group of outcasts who’ve become the most venerated and feared group in school. In TV Land’s announcement, they referred to the new group as “a very different but equally vicious group of Heathers.” The Hollywood Reporter, who first announced the pilot order, wrote about the new Heathers:

Heather McNamara (originally played by Lisanne Falk) is a black lesbian; Heather Duke (Shannen Doherty) is a male who identifies as gender-queer whose real name is Heath; and Heather Chandler (Kim Walker) has a body like Martha Dumptruck.

Is that a resounding “noooooooo” I’m hearing?

Hopefully the plot will diverge a bit (or a lot) from that of the film, otherwise this would entail a narrative about a young heroine enacting violence on… three people who in real life, would be far more likely to be bullied in high school than to be the bullies. Obviously anyone can be vicious and a bully, and if it were set in some alternate universe where people who identify as such are hegemonic, I guess it could be an interesting statement on the universality of humans (teenage humans) abusing their power, but somehow a show that’s just set in contemporary America, wherein a character purported to be a heroine triumphantly harms queer and minority students somehow… doesn’t sound so appealing.

Perhaps there’s something conceptually missing from these early descriptions, though. Or perhaps this will be a reboot that never should have been made. Imagine that!