What’s Your Damage?

Yesterday I was able to catch up a little on the pop culture that I have been neglecting – watched the season premiere of Sons of Anarchy (still love Jax), checked in on the new episode of Go On (still enjoy it, but slightly less than the pilot) and even made some forward progress in the book I am reading (The Passage; the downside of ebooks is you don’t realize just how long they are). I even left work on time, which for this week makes it something of a red letter day. But the big news of the day was a post that I saw on The A.V. Club website.

They are turning the movie Heathers into a TV show.

This is possibly the worst idea ever. If you thought I was upset about the prospect of A Christmas Story 2, multiply that by 100. That gives you a ballpark idea of how much I hate this idea.

Reading into the proposed plot did nothing to assuage my fears: An adult Veronica (Winona Ryder’s character in the film) returns to Sherwood, Ohio with her own teenage daughter, who wrangles with “the next generation of mean girls: the Ashleys, the daughters of the surviving Heathers.”

I think I just threw up in my mouth. This is sacrilege. Even Bravo can’t make me believe this is a good idea.

Heathers is one of my favorite movies. Most people assume it is because of the name – in theory it makes sense for a girl named Heather to like a movie named Heathers. But the girls named Heather in the film are not someone that you necessarily want to be associated with; they were bitchy, cruel and selfish people who cared nothing for others. They were not exactly banner representatives of the name, which already has some negative connotations associated with it. Heather used to be considered a stripper name back in the day and was associated with bimbos and white trash girls (thanks, mom). So the portrayal in the film of girls name Heather wasn’t exactly helping matters.

So my affinity for the film isn’t based on vanity. It’s just a really great dark comedy about high school that probably could never get made today.

In the film, Westburg High is ruled by a popular group of girls called “The Heathers” (Kim Walker, Shannen Doherty and Lisanne Falk). They rule with an iron fist and amuse themselves by humiliating their classmates. Everyone hates them, but also wants to be them. The newest member of the group, Veronica, hasn’t totally bought into the Heathers way of doing things. When she teams up with the new boy in school JD (Christian Slater), to get revenge on ringleader Heather Chandler, they wind up killing her and faking her suicide. The bodies continue to pile up as JD and Veronica try to eradicate the heartless popular people and “make their high school a nice place.” Think Natural Born Killers meets Mean Girls.

The film was made in 1988, well before school shooting became a nationwide fear and bullying was the cause de jour. It was a time when killing off your tormenters was a fantasy, not a reality. I’m guessing most major studios would balk at making this movie today and I guarantee that the television program will have less of a body count and more of high school girls being bitchy to each other. It’s OK for kids to kill each other today (see The Hunger Games) but they just can’t be doing it for sport. Heathers isn’t even particularly violent by today’s standards, but I think the subject matter and some of the jokes (“I love my dead gay son”) would be difficult to sell to a studio in the current marketplace.

I was so outraged by the news of the impending television reboot that I sat down to watch Heathers last night. It had been a while since I had seen the movie and I was curious if I would still enjoy it as much as I used to. While some things seemed a little dated – especially the clothing – the rest of the movie stood up incredibly well. I really enjoyed my high school experience, but Heathers captures the cruelty and misery that high school is for a lot of people. It can be a blood sport. Every school has a group like the Heathers – their names may be different and their methods vary, but they exist.

One of my favorite things about Heathers is just how quotable it is; I was surprised when re-watching it to hear how many of phrases from the movie that I still use in casual conversation to this day, 20+ years after the film was released. Some of my favorite lines from the film include:

  • “Color me impressed” (I’ve even used this one on the blog)
  • “Are we going to prom or to hell?”
  • “If you were happy every day of your life you wouldn’t be a person. You’d be a game show host.”
  • “Such a pillowcase.”
  • “Great pate, mom, but I have to motor if I wanna be ready for that funeral.”
  • “It’ll be very.”
  • “Bulimia is so ’87.”
  • “Greetings and Salutations” (I use this one a lot. I’d forgotten where I stole it from)
  • “No one at Westerburg is going to let you play their reindeer games”
  • “What’s your damage?”

and my all-time favorite…

  • “F@#k me gently with a chainsaw”

I also realized on my recent viewing that I used to be obsessed with the nightstand that Veronica had in her bedroom. I loved the punctuation drawer handles.


Actually, I’d still put that in my house. I wonder if they still make them?

Christian Slater’s portrayal of  JD also made me laugh. It is Slater at his most Jack Nicholson-esque. This is pretty much the only role of his that I have liked.

My only hope is that the project somehow falls apart. The idea of a Heathers TV show isn’t new; it’s been kicking around for a while in various forms. So it is possible that this will never get out of development. But no good can come of this. Never mind that that the entire premise makes no sense (there are just way too many coincidences); don’t we have enough programs that feature high school girls being mean to each other? Leave well enough alone.

A Heathers reboot? “Did you eat a brain tumor for breakfast?” Just don’t do it.


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