Just as each generation has its teenagers, so too does each generation of pop culture have its own signature teen-centered movies. For most of the 1980s, Hollywood’s teen scene was dominated by the works of John Hughes, who wrote, directed, and/or produced classics of the genre like The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. However, for those not feeling Hughes’ often dramatic yet still mostly optimistic take on teen life, there was a darker alternative in the form of 1989’s late-decade entry Heathers.
Directed by Michael Lehmann and written by Daniel Waters, the original Heathers centered on Veronica Sawyer (Winona Ryder), a new addition to Westerburg High School’s popular girl clique. True to the title, the other three girls in the group were all named Heather, and were played by Kim Walker, future star Shannen Doherty, and Lisanne Falk, respectively. Before long, Veronica grew tired of the Heathers’ selfish ways, and fell out with the group. They then embarked on a smear campaign to ruin her reputation, leading Veronica to enlist the help of rebellious outsider J.D. (Christian Slater). Unfortunately, J.D.’s idea of revenge includes homicide, which is not at all what Veronica had in mind when they agreed to join forces.
With adapting films to TV being quite the popular trend as of late, it wasn’t all that surprising when TV Land announced that it ordered a pilot for a series based on Heathers last month, as the film’s cult of followers has only grown in the decades since its release. The network has now cast the lead roles for its modern take on the Heathers story, including updated versions of J.D., Veronica, and the titular trio of mean girls.
Interestingly enough, TV Land has opted to go with a total newbie to the Hollywood scene to take over the J.D. role from Slater, in the form of actor James Scully. Contrary to Slater — who had been acting for more than a decade by the time he was cast in Heathers — Scully has literally no other entries on his IMDB filmography. More likely to be recognized — although still not too well known — is Veronica actress Grace Victoria Cox, who recently portrayed Melanie Cross on CBS’ Stephen King adaptation Under the Dome.
Sticking with this strategy of casting unknowns, TV Land has also chosen newcomers for the three Heathers. Taking over the role of ruthless leader Heather Chandler (played in the film by Walker) is Melanie Field, a young stage actress making the transition to TV. Taking over the role of Falk’s weak-willed cheerleader Heather McNamara is Jasmine Matthews, who is so new to the industry that she doesn’t appear to have an IMDB page at all. Finally, stand-up comic Brendan Scannell has been cast as a gender-flipped version of Doherty’s Heather Duke character.
Not to cast any aspersions on this crop of up-and-coming actors, but it’s certainly clear at this point that TV Land is not concerned with star power serving as a selling point for Heathers’ TV series. One assumes they must see the concept itself and the positive sentiment toward the original film as enough of a draw for potential viewers.
Heathers has been ordered to pilot, but has no current premiere date.