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I Watched Heathers (2018) So You Don’t Have To

We’ve been on a trend for the last few years for classics being rebooted, and unfortunately, Heathers has come victim to this phenomenon. 

I am all for giving things a fair chance, and I very much did.

And now we’re here. 

So here are seven reasons why you shouldn’t waste your time. 

[SPOILERS AHEAD]

They don’t have a clear idea of who the ‘bad guy’ is. 

This version of Heathers is written as attending protests, calling out people who are racist, sexist, etc. The Heather’s themselves are all minorities. Right off the bat, this is something completely out of character from the original. Heathers (1988) were cutthroat and cruel and downright terrifying, all white, high society girls. That was the whole point of Movie! Heathers was a social commentary on rich white kids living in suburbia. With Heather’s in this reboot not only being apart of protest culture and speaking up for the little guy, the fact that they’re also all minorities completely erases the driving force of Heathers.

Then there’s also this version of JD which is literally downright psychotic, who stalks, and all around has a creepy vibe—which I’ll talk more about later—but to sum it up, there is no saving face for this guy. Even Veronica is unlikable. I genuinely don’t know who I’m supposed to root for. 

The dialogue is just. . . . Yikes! 

If the trailer didn’t give you a taste of what to expect . . .

The director even said that how he came up with the dialogue is that they said an insult, marked out a word that they already knew, and thought of a word that they never heard of in an insult. It was easy to spot that they were trying to emulate the atmosphere from the original, but what was so special about the original is that their ‘f**k me lightly with a chainsaw’ seemed in context and in-universe with the movie, and not trying-so-hard. 

 

They Bombed JD’s Character (Pun Intended)

Unlike the movie where JD has that undeniable charm about him, in this reboot he’s a monotone-hipster-wanna-be and a literal psychopath. He’s incredibly serious, and incredibly terrifying. No one in their right mind would want to hang out with him. Even in the trailer, the Heathers remark about Veronica’s terrorist boyfriend.

There was a certain charm to JD’s character in the original. We were seeing him through Veronica’s eyes, so all the red flags didn’t seem as worrisome. From the very beginning, they have a connection. They talk, exchange a few words, have some banter. Then he just showed up at her house, but she’s been so enamored with him since she first laid eyes on him that she doesn’t even think that its weird. Therefore, the audience doesn’t really think about it, either.

Even though JD in the original pulls a gun in the first scene that he appears in, it’s excusable to a degree because we are seeing him through Veronica’s eyes. Throughout the film, there was a slow, chilling reveal to JD’s true nature. 

In the show version, he barely shows emotion. His charm from his predecessor is gone. I don’t know if it’s the acting or what the writers intended but his flat voice is anything but alluring. 

The plot of the episode doesn’t even make sense

The driving force of the episode is of a jock wearing a shirt from his college called the Remington Redskins (nice Easter egg). Obviously inappropriate for obvious reasons. Heather Chandler calls him out and snaps of a picture of him in it, telling him to take it off or she’ll post it to her Instagram of 245K followers, and tells him once she posts it . . . he’ll lose his scholarship to Remington. 

Wait, what?

He’s wearing their mascot?! It literally doesn’t make any sense.

Later in the show, Heather invites Veronica to a fancy art gallery party. Even though it seems this version of Heather can be a little annoyed (and a little cruel, but not to the extent of the original) with this version of Veronica it feels like Heather genuinely wants her to be there, not for an initiation, but as a friend, granted a weird stereotypical popular version of a friend, but a friend nonetheless. Which is odd given the fact that in Heathers (1988) when Heather mentions to Veronica about a party it seems more like an initiation or a confirmation of loyalty than a begrudging friendship.

Veronica feels like she so much better than the party. Heather hisses at her to get it in check and seems kind of annoyed that Veronica feels like she’s so much better than this. (With no prompting there is also a cutscene where Veronica is burying Heather in her grave, which completely dismantles the Movie! Veronica’s “Metaphorically [wanting Heather to die]!’) 

Veronica then finds out that Heather, in fact, did post that plot hole of a picture, and gets pissed that Heather basically ruined his life. Heather rolls her eyes and says that she only ruined his life for a few weeks, tops. Veronica gets more pissed, accidentally knocks an art piece over that was filled with laundry detergent (nice Easter egg?) for some reason and it spills all over Heather’s new shirt. 

Then that makes Veronica think she has the upper hand somehow and delivers then butchered line of the iconic ‘lick it up, baby, lick it up’ to ‘lick it up, fatty, lick it up’ because this Heather is heavier set. Heather gets pissed ‘Did you just fat shame me? In public?!’ And sets out to destroy Veronica’s social life. 

The Revenge Made Sense

Now moving onto the concept of revenge in this plot hole of an episode. 

In the movie, them going to get revenge on Heather is well deserved. She’s awful and cruel, and on a warpath because Veronica puked on Heather’s shoes! So it would make total sense in the movie that Veronica would just want her to puke too! Get her ‘revenge’ that only a junior in high school needs to get, and to disguise it as a hangover cure nonetheless. 

In the show, Veronica publicly fat-shames Heather at an art gallery event that Heather invited her to. Heather then says Veronica better watch out (much like Heather did in the original), but the revenge in this version didn’t make all that much sense. 

They’re in the car in front of Heather’s house and JD gives her a Nazi soldier hat and makes a remark of how the hat makes his father wish of ‘simpler times’ (yes, I’m serious). Then JD shows Veronica these Vomiting Inducing Pills?? That JD oh so gracefully informs us that HITLER carried around, I guess, in case he got poisoned??

What?

They initially snuck into her house to put the Nazi soldier hat on her head to post it to her Instagram to troll, but then she wakes up. Realizes what is happening, and the whole death scene, is well, awkward. 

And that moves to my next point, and my biggest bone to pick with the show. 

Heather Doesn’t Die (I KNOW!!!!)

It’s not even that Show!Heather doesn’t die, it’s just that even when she ‘dies,’ it’s not well deserved!

Heather’s death is deserved in the film. It just makes sense. The characters talk about how awful she is and wish her dead multiple times, we’ve seen the victims she subjects to her cruelness, and that she thinks is funny. We know she’s a materialistic wench, we know it. In the film not even on the 30-minute mark, Heather dies, having all that previous buildup beforehand that makes her death deserved. The audience accepts it and knows that it’s just, because the movie does it properly, and doesn’t act like it’s filling a quota. In this scene, the audience feels the weight of her death.

Even her suicide note in the film is so much more profound and handled with care—partly because Veronica and JD don’t want to get caught, all the reason why they thought critically about what she would say, and cast her in a new sympathetic light that the characters otherwise wouldn’t feel for her without this note. 

In the 40-minute pilot, we barely get any of that. We get Heather Chandler trying to expose a ‘racist’, people commenting off-handedly how she’s so idolized, but when people go up to her and to talk she just acts like she’s so above them all. We have Veronica annoyingly telling JD that Heather has dragged her to protests, so I’m confused if I’m supposed to hate her or not.

Then we get to the death scene.  

When Heather wakes up to find JD and Veronica, she doesn’t seem too alarmed by the whole ordeal. Only when she sees her phone in JD’s hand does she want it back. JD telling her the only way she’s getting it back is to down a bag of Corn Nuts in five seconds (yet another call back). Heather declines, then JD makes a comment on how he ‘didn’t realize Heather Chandler wanted to lose weight.’ She gets offended, and Corn Nuts go down the hatch. 

Two things happened that I didn’t understand. One, when she’s chugging down Corn Nuts and starts coughing, I initially thought she was choking to death, while lazy, still probable, but when she falls over and is presumed dead Veronica says, ‘When is she supposed to throw up?’ That’s when the second thing happens, JD realizes that he must have got the wrong pills and accidentally grabbed the suicide pills, instead. I have a lot of questions, most of them why? But my most pressing one (aside from the fact that JD is so ‘smart’ how did he not realized she probably didn’t ingest them) is: do suicide pills even work that fast? In a span of 12 seconds? (Yes, I counted)

To answer your question, no

It takes ‘within minutes of ingestion of a lethal dose of cyanide salt [for death to occur].’ 

I literally cannot even believe there are writers that actually thought this up, I’m still in awe, and I watched this episode multiple times.

When they realize Heather is ‘dead’, JD edits the video he took to make it look like a suicide video, to which Veronica responds ‘Keep it under ten, we’ll get more hits’ just showing her lack of self-awareness over the fact they just ‘killed’ somebody. Then, adding the cherry on top captioning it with: ‘??.’ 

COMPLETELY undermining the impact and issue of teen suicide, and completely eradicating the letter in the original to two emojis. Desperately trying to be ‘hip’ and with today’s times. It doesn’t help that the next day on the board outside of the school they have this: 

I could go on, and frankly, I’m just scraping the surface. 

What I think the writers got wrong and failed to realize was that the original could never be brought to ‘modern’ times. It’s so stuck in its time period, and that’s the beauty of it. Even though that may be Heathers (1988) was extremely controversial for its time. Grappling with teen suicide head-on, dealing with sexual assault, and school shootings amongst other things, it respected each topic for what it was, even though they satirized it. Not exploiting it, or writing something in offhandedly because it’s deemed ‘hip’ and ‘cool’. 

In conclusion, it feels like the writers went on Tumblr for ten minutes, grabbed a bunch of buzz words, the original Heather script, and took their complete false and detached idea of what teens are like these days and mixed them all in a blender. 

They attempted to copy the atmosphere even to the moody finger snaps, but they could never wish to emulate what the original holds. 

The writers of the show have no excuse airing that trash they call a reboot. 

Maddy Delaney is the Co-Correspondent for Her Campus at Wesleyan College. When she's not writing, she's hammock-ing, eating mozzarella sticks, or knitting. Yes, she is, in fact, an elderly woman named Edith in a college student's body. 
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