The Paramount Network has decided to delay the premiere of their highly advertised television reboot of Heathers until later in the year. This was done to distance the show and its dark themes from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.
On February 14, 2018, a mass shooting took place at Stoneman Douglas High School that took the lives of 17 people. Fourteen of the casualties of the shooting were students, and the shooting was perpetrated by a student of the school with known behavioral and disciplinary issues. The show Heathers was slated for a March 7 premiere - just two weeks after the shooting. Since that time, a vocal contingent of students from Stoneman Douglas have taken center stage in the national spotlight to passionately call for gun reform to prevent another such incident.
Related: Heathers TV Series Trailer
Paramount released the following statement earlier today announcing the show's delay and reason for doing so:
Paramount Network’s original series “Heathers” is a satirical comedy that takes creative risks in dealing with many of society’s most challenging subjects ranging from personal identity to race and socio-economic status to gun violence. While we stand firmly behind the show, in light of the recent tragic events in Florida and out of respect for the victims, their families and loved ones, we feel the right thing to do is delay the premiere until later this year.
Late last month, the Spike network was re-branded as the Paramount Network. The television show would have been the first high profile premiere for the network since the re-branding, and was intended to be a tent-pole series for the newly christened station. Heathers is based on the dark cult classic comedy about high school from 1988 of the same name. The movie, which starred Winona Ryder and Christian Slater, involved students murdering fellow students - including with the use of a gun. As brought up in Paramount's statement on the delay, the television show will also deal with gun violence in schools.
The television show was created by Jason A. Micallef, who serves as a writer as well. It stars Grace Victoria Cox in the original Winona Ryder role of Veronica Sawyer. Cox has appeared in Under The Dome and the latest season of Twin Peaks. She is joined by a cast of mostly relative newcomers. Selma Blair (perhaps best remembered for her role in another dark teen movie that's being rebooted, Cruel Intentions) and an original Heather herself, Shannen Doherty, round out the cast for the series. The show's tone and much of the casting has been updated to be more reflective of teenage life in America today, as opposed to setting itself in the world of the late '80s.
Despite the obvious cost of delaying a flagship series so soon before the premiere, this was a wise move on Paramount's part. The television show has been in the works for years, and it is only coincidence that such a macabre high school show would be set to debut so soon after the MSD shooting. Premiering in early March, though, would still have garnered criticism for its exploitative timing. The cost of the advertising done on the show will likely be diminished by the fact that the issue of guns and school violence won't soon be quelled in the media by the as-yet-undetermined 2018 premiere of the series.