In a TV landscape that currently includes literally hundreds of original programming options available to watch on various networks and streaming platforms at any given time, it’s not too surprising just how eager studios have become to greenlight series based on established properties. It never hurts to have a built-in audience for a new show, as well as a recognizable name that might cause many who know the source material to stop flipping channels or scanning through their streaming queue and give it a shot. The latest such entry into the popular movie-turned-TV series mix is Heathers, based on the 1988 cult classic film starring Winona Ryder and Christian Slater.
For those unfamiliar, the original Heathers centered on Veronica Sawyer (Ryder), a new addition to Westerburg High School’s popular girl clique. True to the title, the other three girls in the group are all named Heather, and were played by Kim Walker, future star Shannen Doherty, and Lisanne Falk, respectively. Before long, Veronica grows tired of the Heathers’ selfish ways, and falls out with the group. They embark on a campaign to ruin her reputation, leading Veronica to enlist the help of rebellious outsider J.D. (Slater). Unfortunately, J.D.’s idea of revenge includes homicide, which goes beyond where Veronica ever wanted to go.
According to THR, TV Land has ordered a pilot for a TV series based on Heathers, which is expected to retain the black comedy sensibilities present in the original film. However, one thing the show won’t retain are the characters, as Heathers the series retains only the names, themes and basic premise of the movie. The series also flips the script a bit by giving the new evil Heathers character traits: The lead Heather is a Black lesbian, another is a male who identifies as queer, and the third is noticeably overweight. Just who will serve as the modern takes on the Veronica and J.D. roles remains unclear.
Should the series do well enough to earn a second season, Heathers is being designed as an anthology, with each new season set at a different school with a different trio of Heathers. This will actually mark the third attempt to adapt Heathers for TV, with the prior two attempts never making it past the development stage. With this try actually getting a pilot order, it appears that the third time will finally be the charm.
A decidedly pre-Columbine film, Heathers was fairly controversial with some at the time of its original release, and would likely be unfilmable in the modern age of school shootings taking place at an alarming rate. It’ll be interesting to see just how toned down the inevitable revenge plot launched against the TV Heathers will end up being, as it’s highly doubtful that TV Land will sign off on a J.D. type character that wantonly murders his classmates. Still, the basic premise definitely has potential for making a successful transition into the 21st century landscape.
The Heathers TV series has been ordered to pilot by TV Land.