In the age of remakes, reboots and revivals, every announcement that a cult favorite film or TV is getting redone with a younger cast and set in modern times comes with the fear that your favorite property will get absolutely ruined. But f--k me gently with a chainsaw, because there's no need to fear the upcoming Heathers TV show (premiering Wednesday, March 7 at 10 p.m.). It's just as dark and edgy as the original film. Paramount Network, a new television network, is launching a 2018 anthology version of Winona Ryder's 1980s deadly black comedy about the clique of cool girls you hated to love and loved to hate, and they didn't sugar coat or tone down anything. How very.
Speaking at the 2018 Winter Television Critics Association press tour, Heathers TV show creator Jason Micallef was asked if he was using the Paramount Network series as a responsible anti-bullying tool to which he vehemently responded, "We don't!"
"It's not responsible. It's dark, its edgy, we're trying to show them as they really are," Micallef says. "Unlike the film, we have a lot more time to get into what makes these characters click. In the movie, Heather C. is kind of a monster but we have more time to get behind that and see what that's really about. I don't view them as villains, I view them as victims in their own right so we're able to explore that because we're a television show."
As for how close the series will be to the original movie, Micallef promises it will be just as bloody and deadly as fans hope. "Yes people do die on our show; it is Heathers," he says as the room of reporters erupts in laughter. "Somewhere more than one and less than five of these people are going to bite the bullet at various different times." Thank god! Everyone knows teen angst bullsh-t has a bodycount.
And they're not shying away from difficult topics like suicide (again, thank god, since that's what made Heathers so groundbreaking when it first came out). "Like the original, we do hit every hot button issue including suicide," Micallef says. "I think the Heathers are aspirational. They have all the best lines, they're the people you want to be."
Described as an anthology series, Micallef explains that "the first season is a jumping off point from the original movie and then we're totally rebooting it from there." Calling it a "love letter to the original movie," he even reveals that the original film was his Star Wars growing up. He would get together with his friends and watch it on VHS tape over and over, so he's definitely the right person to bring this show to life. "I loved that it was a dark but funny view on humanity and I guess that's how I see the world," he says. "It was clearly ahead of its time."
While the cast and story will be reinvented every year, the first season follows Heather C. (Melanie Field), Heather D. (Brendan Scannell) and Heather M. (Jasmine Mathews), the popular clique at Westerburg High who rule through fear, intimidation and amazing fashion sense. But those cult favorite characters are going to look a lot different than the original film stars Kim Walker, Shannon Doherty and Lisanne Falk (although Doherty will make a cameo in three episodes of the first season, including "the very first scene in the very first episode," according to Micallef).
"In the movie we have these three beautiful white women who you wouldn't expect to be wreaking havoc on the school and that was new and hadn’t been seen before," Scannell says. "So our modern retelling of it, we've got traditionally marginalized communities; we've got a black Heather, a plus size Heather and a queer Heather, these communities that still face discrimination but in our show, we're turning that on its head and using the power of the internet and the power of pure self-confidence to trash everybody around them."
So this will still be the Heathers everyone knows and loves, but now it's just woke for 2018. "One of my takeaways from the movie and one of the things that we talk about on the show is that power corrupts," Scannell adds. "The thesis of the show is that everyone at their core is kind of an asshole and concerned with themselves."
Field describes her Heather C. as having "created her own brand and she pretty much doesn't give what people think about it. Her peers idolize and fear her for her confidence. She has her own brand of style and unapologetic way of living that is very much paired with her social media presence because she's social media famous." And Mathews laughs at the blunt haircut Heather M. rocks, but "that's a statement for the Heathers in general, to make the uncool cool," she says.
And while viewers will be able to get into the show without having seen the movie first, Micallef does reveal that "your viewing of it will be so much more enhanced if you've seen the original movie." So get to watching if you haven't already, people. And seriously, if you haven't: what is your damage, Heather?