What in Tarnation?! They’re Remaking Heathers?!

Okay, this is exciting.

by Gabrielle Curran

Staff Angsty Teen

If you’re anything like me, you’re sick and tired of remakes. When a movie is unique and compelling enough on its own, the idea of rebooting it seems more like a transparent cash grab than anything else––and nowhere is this more apparent than in the trailer for Paramount’s TV adaptation of Heathers.

A brief summary of the original film: Heathers is a 1989 movie starring Winona Ryder and Christian Slater. Ryder plays Veronica, a cynical student at Westerberg High School and a recent recruit of the school’s most popular clique, the Heathers. The Heathers consist of three beautiful, venerated girls, all aptly named Heather. Though Veronica enjoys her distinguished status at school, she secretly resents her newfound friends, particularly their ringleader Heather Chandler. Enter J.D. (played by Slater), a cryptic and rebellious student new to Westerberg with a penchant for extreme behavior. When a finally fed up Veronica decides to turn the tables on Heather Chandler, J.D. is more than happy to help. Things go south, however, when a mostly harmless prank Veronica intended to pull on Heather leads to the latter’s death. In order to cover up the murder, J.D. and Veronica forge a suicide note, making it look as though Heather killed herself. The movie then follows the aftermath of Heather’s “suicide”, including the accidental murder of jocks Kurt and Ram, another Heather’s rise to power, and the romanticization of teenage suicide by Veronica’s teachers and peers. While the movie wasn’t a blockbuster, it has developed a cult following since then, even spawning a musical adaptation in 2014.

Since I first saw it in high school, Heathers has always had a special place in my heart. As a cynical teenager myself, I related to Veronica’s jaded perspective and sarcastic attitude. I loved how no-fucks-given the movie was about going there and taking risks in plot and character development. The writing is idiomatic, but not cringy. The characters are flawed and at times abhorrent but somehow relatable, and the premise turns the cliché of teeny-bopper high school movies on its head. Its ending left questions unanswered for sure, but not to the degree that it would warrant a sequel or remake.

Here is the original trailer:

So imagine my surprise when I opened up Tumblr last week to a slew of Heathers fans panicking over a recently-released trailer by Paramount. Naïvely intrigued as I was, I clicked on the link to the YouTube video and was horrified by what I saw.

The trailer opens with Veronica’s iconic first line from the original movie: “Dear Diary.” From then on, the trailer’s resemblance and relevance to its source material disappears almost entirely. The characters sound nothing like teenagers and more like middle-aged men attempting to speak in modern teen lingo (for reference, they have a character exclaim “Oh my clit!” at the end of the trailer). The new Heathers lack any sort of subtlety and act nothing like their underhanded and far more intimidating original counterparts. The first Heathers instilled fear because they seemed capable and willing to do anything to get their way. The new Heathers are laughably unthreatening. J.D.’s character went from an unreadable sadist to a caricature who suggests to Veronica that they “snort Adderall, make out, and kill Heather.” J.D.’s original character was a nonconformist, someone who was so emotionally distanced from society that he could turn his own murders into a social experiment. The new J.D. acts more like a 12-year-old Redditor trying too hard to be edgy. The trailer was clearly trying to endorse a message that typically unpopular kids can be popular, which was never the point of Heathers. In fact, the original did practically everything it could to break down the conventional teenage stereotypes that were so common among the contemporaries of its genre. (And hey––if you want to make a movie in which traditionally outcast kids are the popular ones, more power to you. Write your own plot and leave a perfectly fine cult classic alone.) The closest the trailer got to replicating the bitter satirical tone of the original was in the teachers’ detached reaction to their students’ “suicides”. Don’t even get me started on Shannon Doherty (Heather Duke in the original) being involved in all of this––I don’t know what she’s doing there either.

I’m not alone in my anger towards the trailer––it currently has a whopping 28,000 dislikes to 8,000 likes. The series is set to premiere on the Paramount Network on March 7th. While I might sample the first episode when it comes out, I don’t have high expectations for it. For now, all I can do is re-watch the original and hope that my fury towards this remake is just a spoke in my menstrual cycle.

Here is the new Heathers trailer:

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