Heathers was originally released in 1988. It was written by Daniel Waters and directed by Michael Lehmann and starred Winona Ryder, Christian Slater, and Shannen Doherty. The movie was about a clique of girls, all named Heather, and an outsider named Veronica Sawyer who gets involved with a boy named JD. He kills one of the Heathers with drain cleaner and enlists Veronica to forge a suicide note. This begins a crime spree for the two teenagers. In October of 2016, a television series based on the movie was announced, and soon-after, casting.
The first trailer for the show was released last Thursday...
However, with the ramp up of publicity comes renewed scrutiny over the casting. While all of the 'Heathers' were white in the original film, in the TV show, it's a veritable panoply of diversity with one overweight body-positive Heather, one genderqueer Heather, and one black Heather. While the diversity can be lauded, the heart of the criticism is that depicting underrepresented groups as villains may in the end be damaging.
Many thought the decision to feature the cis, hetero, white girl as the one who takes her revenge on minority characters was problematic...
the heathers reboot ignores that in the original the heathers power & cruelty hinges on privilege & instead shows marginalized ppl as evil bad guys! yikes!— jill ʚ💗ɞ (@gamecubejill) January 20, 2018
Listen, I love Heathers. I also don't agree that all remakes that make changes are bad. But the point of the original was that the Heathers WERE privileged white girls. Making them marginalized folks loses the plot and opens some dangerous lanes— SISTER ROGER EBERT ✨ (@chickcheney) January 19, 2018
However, showrunner Jason Micaleff tried to mitigate some of the critique by telling EW...
"The main thing to really take away is I don’t view the Heathers as the villains. The three Heathers are incredibly powerful and ruling the school; they’re the people you would want to be. In the original film, the Heathers were the ones I always loved, and it’s the same with the series. The Heathers are the aspirational characters. [That the Heathers are the villains is] the underlying thesis of the small segment of people that have an issue with it. The villain is J.D. — and that’s the same in the movie and same in our show."
But this explanation still didn't hold water for some...
eyeroll.— Inkoo Kang (@inkookang) January 19, 2018
there can be more than one villain, and bad behavior can exist on a spectrum, jfc.
the original heathers are aspirational bc they're terrible friends who rub their popularity in everyone's faces? um ok.
Should I even put a Heathers spoiler? LMAO— SISTER ROGER EBERT ✨ (@chickcheney) January 19, 2018
So the real villain in the movie is JD, and I guess that's what they're gonna use to anchor the controversy, but that doesn't make changing the bullies to marginalized people and keeping JD and Veronica straight, cis and white--
But some were here for Micaleff's explanation...
I mean, yeah, that HEATHERS show looks dreadful, and framing marginalized groups as "the real bullies" is certainly problematic, but wasn't JD the *actual villain* of the original film, not the titular Heathers?— I̶ ̶a̶m̶ ̶a̶l̶o̶n̶e̶ I am utterly alone (@DustyKramKram) January 19, 2018
Remember that JD is the real villain, and also that no one Heathers other than Martha and Betty are good people. I'm cautiously optimistic about the remake, but at least the writers know what direction they're gonna go with this— SplarisFlowerCrown (@SplrisFlwerCrwn) January 21, 2018
But most argued that there were many villains in the original film and that saying it's only JD misses the entire point...
heathers remake looks like a shit mess lol. the writer is excusing it by saying jd is the real villain but hey the heathers are portrayed as evil bitches and killed. an excuse to let wppl kill off minorities this some alt right shit— (s)heen (@sheetpost) January 20, 2018
there's not a villain in heathers and that's literally the whole point. "jd was the real villain" doesn't even kind of excuse this mess.— bad cyberpunk (@FakeGamerGF) January 20, 2018