ByHollie Phillips, writer at Creators.co
21, University of Liverpool graduate, blogger/writer
Hollie Phillips

During Sunday night’s MTV Video Music Awards, the teaser trailer for Heathers was finally aired. The reboot was first announced back in March 2016, and well, a lot of people weren’t exactly happy about it. Since then, it’s been rather quiet on the remake front (so quiet that I hoped the whole thing was just a bad dream), but after the release of the teaser trailer, the internet has been blowing up. But can we really judge an entire series on a 30 second trailer? Before we become judgmental Heathers ourselves, let’s gather what we know so far, and then make an educated judgement.

The Cast

Can the series really be called a reboot if the Heathers bare absolutely no resemblance to their predecessors?

The main item that has angered the internet about the Heathers remake is the cast. is a firm cult favorite because it is so easily relatable — everyone can name the Heathers of their school. They were those popular, beautiful girls that made our lives a misery. One of the main elements of the Heathers was that they were all the same, from their preppy outfits to their forenames. The leader of the Heathers, the one with the coveted red scrunchie, built an army around herself and they tore down anybody that was an outsider. Veronica teetered between being popular and being an outcast — she was friends with the Heathers but wasn’t quite part of the group, yet she wasn’t a complete outcast.

Veronica's face is basically the internet looking at the new Heathers. [Credit: New World Entertainment]
Veronica's face is basically the internet looking at the new Heathers. [Credit: New World Entertainment]

So, with that in mind, the new Heathers should be basically the same as the old ones, yes? Wrong.

Gone are the days of preppy, blonde, rich, popular girls who rule the school. Now, in a strange turn of events, the kids that the original Heathers would consider to be outcasts, are now the new Heathers. Mind blown, right?

I fully appreciate that there is constant pressure on Hollywood to be more inclusive, and we should all be for casting more minority actors, but is the Heathers group the right place to be inclusive? If they had replaced Winona Ryder’s Veronica with a minority actress, I could absolutely get on board with that. As previously discussed, Veronica toed the line between popular and outcast, and casting a nonwhite or LGBT actress to play her in the reboot would make perfect sense in this day and age. But did they do that? Nope, they did not. Instead, they cast Veronica as a mirror image of the old Heathers that we all know and love to hate: newcomer Grace Victoria Cox is a blonde, attractive teen who would have fit in perfectly with the original Heathers.

J.D. and Veronica are no longer the rebellious teens we know and love. [Credit: TV Land]
J.D. and Veronica are no longer the rebellious teens we know and love. [Credit: TV Land]

Additionally, they took away the main point of the Heathers — girls who looked like mirror images of each other — and replaced them with people who would, in most teen dramas, be considered the outcasts. In trying to be more inclusive, they cast minority actors in the entirely wrong roles. The Heathers are spectacularly cruel teens, so who thought it was a good idea to cast marginalized actors as the next generation of these evil girls?

Even putting aside the problematic casting, there are more aesthetic problems with the new cast. The original Heathers were so frighteningly devilish largely due to their sweet exterior: they dressed immaculately, always looking classy and oddly sophisticated for teenage girls. Their squeaky-clean exterior emphasized their warped, cruel minds, and they very much adhered to the good-girl image. Yet the look of the new Heathers group is the old Heathers worst nightmare. From the teaser trailer, we can tell that the new Heathers don’t dress the same — already showing how different they are to the old Heathers, who looked like a girl-band in their matching shoulder pads — and seem to use their outfit choices to portray their personalities. For one, there is a lot of gold going on. Sickly-sweet Heather Chandler is no more, as she now wears rings that spell out expletives. While I understand that the reboot is set in the present day (I knew the shoulder pads and Chanel-style suits would not be making an appearance), it massively missed the mark with the Heathers aesthetics. Can the series really be called a reboot if the Heathers bare absolutely no resemblance to their predecessors?

The Script

I really struggle to see how some of the films best one-liners can be recreated by different actors.

From the teaser trailer and additional clips revealed on the official Heathers Instagram page, we can be relatively certain that the script has changed very little from the original movie. In some respects, this is a good thing since the film had some excellent one liners (“Fuck me gently with a chainsaw” is the one that everybody, whether they’ve watched the film or not, seems to use the most), but can a direct copy of the script actually work?

Heathers was released in 1988, almost three decades ago, and a lot has changed since then. Technology is huge part of our daily life, so how can the importance of social media in a teen's life be depicted if the script remains the same? In one clip that was shared on Instagram, the new Heather Chandler is shown taking countless selfies, this shows that social media will play a marginally important role in the remake, but also causes one to wonder how improvements in technology will be incorporated into a script from 1988. The Heathers Instagram page also uses the hashtag "instafamous" in one image that appears to be a close-up of an iPhone, further raising questions of how modern technology will be included.

Even without the increase in technology and emergence of social media, I struggle to see how some of the film's best one-liners can be recreated by different actors. Christian Slater was the perfect sadistic psychopath, and some of his scathing remarks about high school, society and the world in general were nothing less than legendary. How will Heather Chandler’s mocking insults suit modern society, when teenagers find new phrases and terms every day? Winona Ryder’s diary played quite a big role in the film, containing her deepest thoughts and feelings towards J.D. and the Heathers. The idea of Grace Victoria Cox, whose portrayal of Veronica in the teaser trailer makes her look more like a Heather than the Heathers do, recreating some of Veronica’s deepest thoughts with the same intensity as Ryder seems unlikely.

Overall, I think we are firmly within our rights to judge the Heathers reboot from the teaser trailer, especially considering that Heathers managed to make itself problematic in 30 seconds. A reboot has been in the works before, but has always slipped away quietly and never amounted to anything. Unfortunately, it seems as though this Heathers remake is actually happening, and stomping all over our fond memories of the original in the process. I suppose all we can do is patiently await the day that Christian Slater arrives and brings the new Heathers to an end.

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