Heathers TV reboot pulled off air after Parkland shooting, LGBT backlash

The release of a TV series based on the cult film Heathers has been postponed indefinitely after a negative backlash.

Paramount show Heathers was an attempt to update the 1989 film – in which murderous teens wreak havoc in their high school social circle – for 2018.

The show, which had been gearing up for a release this month, had proved divisive with critics and fans as it features dark commentary about the negative power of the social justice movement.

The TV reboot updates the original Heathers trio for the modern age – with genderqueer character Heather Duke played by actor Brendan Scannell, while Jasmine Mathews plays Heather McNamara, who tells everyone she’s a lesbian, but is actually heterosexual.

Early reviews had been extremely negative about the swipes at the online social justice movement. One reviewer branded the show a “Trumpian, LGBT-Bashing Nightmare” that portrayed queer people as “bullies”, while another said it was an “insult to teens in 2018”.

(Paramount Network)

In the wake of the negative publicity, plans to air the show appear to have been shelved indefinitely.

A public statement attributed the decision to postpone the show to the Parkland school shooting.

It said: “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.”

Given the references to “personal identity” in Paramount’s statement – some on social media speculated as to whether the show’s public pillorying in the press had also contributed to the decision.

It is unclear when – or if – the show will now air.

The show’s creator Jason Micallef had firmly stood behind his vision for the show in an interview with Entertainment Weekly.

He said: “One of the themes that we talk about on the show is like how power corrupts, and everyone at their core is kind of an a–hole and concerned with themselves.

“So in the movie, we have these like three beautiful white women who you wouldn’t expect to be wreaking havoc on a school, and that was sort of new and hadn’t been seen before. So our modern retelling of it, we’ve got traditionally marginalized communities.

“We’ve got a black Heather, a plus-sized Heather, a queer Heather.

“These communities still face discrimination, but our show is turning that on its head and using the power of the internet and the power of like pure self-confidence to trash everybody around them.”

He added: “The reason I changed the Heathers surface identities is I think today [the characterization] rings true. Today, all different types of people are more aspirational.

“People that wouldn’t have necessarily been considered the most popular kids in school in 1988 could very well be — and probably most likely are — the more popular kids today.

“And also because it’s a TV show, we have so much more time to explore their characters and get behind it.”