Here's Why 'Heathers' Wouldn't Work Today

Did you have a brain tumor for breakfast? (Photo: Heathers)What’s their damage? Bravo’s attempt to revive the 1988 cult classic film "Heathers" as a television series is officially over, reported Buzzfeed on Wednesday.

The black comedy stars Winona Ryder as a 17-year-old girl named Veronica Sawyer, who tries to break into the school clique, dubbed simply “The Heathers," which consists of three pretty girls (all named Heather) who color-block their scrunchies and blazers, play croquette, and rule the school. When Veronica and the lead Heather bump heads, Veronica teams up with a rebel student named JD (played by Christian Slater) and together, they embark on a killing spree to murder Heather (by poisoning her with drain cleaner), as well as the rest of their classmates. 

The reboot was originally developed in 2009 by Sony Pictures Television for Fox with Jenny Bicks ("Sex and the City") as its executive producer. The concept was simple: A grown-up Veronica (the film’s snarky main character) moves back to Sherwood, Ohio, with her teenage daughter, who goes up against the school latest clique, “The Ashleys”, who happen to be the daughters of the original Heathers.

While Bravo hasn’t commented on why the project was nixed, the move was probably the right one. The original "Heathers" — or a potential spin-off —  just wouldn’t translate today.

Buzzy catchphrases aside ("F*** me with a chainsaw," and "Corn nuts! Plain or BQ?"), "Heathers" developed a cult following in part because it was the anti-John Hughes film, fully embracing topics deemed taboo: teen angst, suicide pacts, homophobia, gun violence, sex, drug overdoses, and bomb threats. In a post-Sandy Hook world where cyberbullying is rampant, movie stars like Jim Carey refuse to promote violent films, and the World Trade Center is digitally deleted from movies and television, it’s tough to believe that the film would get made today (much less a spin-off that contextualized its back story).

The original characters were too nuanced to lend themselves to modern-day mean girls. Unlike the one-dimensional bubble-gum roles in “Bring It On,” “Jawbreaker,” and “Mean Girls,” where the characters’ terribleness is conveyed via catty one-liners, "Heathers" showed us glimpses of humanity. After Heather Chandler gives a boy oral sex at a frat party, she rinses her mouth with water and angrily spits at the mirror, showing us, in that private moment, her self-hatred. And Veronica wasn’t a weak wannabe — she understood how dysfunctional both her friendships and her relationship with JD were (as evidenced by her multiple attempts to break up with him). When explaining why she stayed friends with the Heathers, she said, “They’re people I work with and our job is being popular.”

The film was also too dark to lend itself to a sequel. When Veronica and JD weren't killing off everyone around them, they were snickering at the parents of the jock they killed, or coming to depressing self-realizations about themselves. (JD justifies blowing up the school by exclaiming, "Nobody loves me.") Ultimately, the movie makes us reflect on the inhumane horrors of high school — and who wants to relive that?