After originally scrapping a television remake of the 1980s cult film Heathers, which features a high school getting blown up, Paramount has sold the reboot to several international territories.
The network originally ditched the Heathers reboot when the idea was met with controversy, as many perceived the concept of a high school’s violent destruction triggering and offensive in this political moment, when school shootings are frighteningly prevalent.
"The combination of a high school show with these very dark moments didn't feel right," Keith Cox, Paramount Network president of development and production, told The Hollywood Reporter.
The original movie centered around three menacingly popular high school girls — the titular Heathers — and a series of accidental deaths that ensue, which are framed as satirical. The TV version features students who subvert racial, sexual, and body ideals as the Heathers, but many critics were not impressed that queer and black students were portrayed as P.C.-policing villains. Despite having faith in the pilot of the reboot, which originally went to TV Land, Paramount executives decided that the plot’s dark humor was not needed in the current political moment.
After the high school shooting in Parkland, Fla., in February, Paramount executives delayed the premiere date of the reboot from March to a date never officially announced. But following another high school shooting, executives made the decision to scrap the show altogether.
"This is a high school show, we're blowing up the school, there are guns in the school, it's a satire and there are moments of teachers having guns," Cox said. "It's hitting on so many hot topics. This company can't be speaking out of both sides of its mouth, saying the youth movement is important for us and we've done all these wonderful things to support that and at the same time, we're putting on a show that we're not comfortable with."
The show would have premiered on the Paramount Network, which was formerly Spike, after the network was rebranded as the core entertainment hotspot for Viacom. Paramount Network reportedly had so much faith in the prospective success of the show, they were close to renewing the reboot for a second season just weeks after the Parkland shooting.
The new Heathers, which premiered on July 11 overseas, has taken the form of a 10-episode drama. After Paramount sold the show to HBO, Heathers premiered in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Kosovo, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovacia and Slovenia on HBO Go. HBO subscribers in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden began getting episodes twice a week — the same rate at which it premiered in the former countries — while HBO subscribers in Spain and Andorra received the first three episodes. Meanwhile, HBO subscribers in Portugal, Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea, Bissau, Mozambique, Sao Tome, and Principe are scheduled to have the show available on HBO Go at a date that is yet to be announced.