'Heathers' TV Show Will Have A 'Kill Bill'-Style Fight With Croquet Mallets, F-Bombs And More [TCA 2018]

/Film had a one-on-one interview with Jason Micallef, developer and showrunner of the Heathers TV adaptation, after his Television Critics Association panel. We'll bring you that full interview when the show premieres in March, but during out conversation, Micallef revealed that episode four would have a Kill Bill style fight scene with croquet mallets. One of the croquet fighters is Betty Finn (Nikki SooHoo). Micallef also said that Heathers would shoot full R-rated language for streaming and digital. It will only be bleeped when it airs on the Paramount Network and he confirmed the line "F––k me gently with a chainsaw," made iconic after the original Heathers movie, is in the show.

During the TCA panel, Micallef and the show's cast spoke about updating the 1989 film for 2018.

"I thought now was the perfect time for it. I think the original film was released in 1989 at the end of the Reagen era and in a time of transition," Micallef said. "Now we're in another clearly political time with transition."

Heathers introduces a new variety of popular Heathers at Westerberg high. Heather Chandler (Melanie Field) is plus size and still the leader.

"Particularly in the area of social media, which is a huge topic on our show, there's always a new app or platform for marketing yourself, the version you want the world or your peers to see," Field said. "It's changed the way people, particularly high school students are interacting. There's a lot of really one-sided conversation. She's created her own brand. She pretty much doesn't give [a damn] what you think about it. She created that for herself. Her peers idolize her for it and fear her for her confidence. She has her own brand of style and unapologetic way of living that is paired wit h her social media presence. She's social media famous."

Heather McNamara (Jasmine Matthews) is a black woman with a black father and white mother. Heather Duke (Brendan Scanneli) is a gender fluid man.

"One of my takeaways from the movie and we talk about on the show is power corrupts," Scanneli said. "Everyone at their core is kind of an a**hole. The movie, we have these three beautiful white women who you wouldn't expect to be wreaking havoc on the school. That was new and hadn't been seen before. Our modern retelling of it, we've got traditionally marginalized communities, a black Heather, a plus sized Heather, a queer Heather, these communities that still face discrimination but in our show are turning it on their head, using the power of the internet and pure self confidence to trash everyone around them."

Grace Victoria Cox plays Veronica, and James Scully is J.D. Original Heather Shannen Doherty cameos as a new character, who appears in the very first scene of the premiere episode.

"[Doherty] is in three episodes, cameo style," Micallef said.

Hallmarks of the movie get a twist. The rock band Big Fun's hit song "Teenage Suicide (Don't Do It)" is now the title of a high school musical Westerberg High is performing in episode three. Martha "Dump Truck" is still a target of the Heathers, but no longer for being overweight, but rather for being poor.

"Martha Dump Truck's character's been slightly altered, but she does exist," Micallef said.

In a post-Columbine world, Heathers' brand of satire dealing with high school violence and teen suicide may seem taboo. Micallef felt it was important to tackle such persistent issues head on.

"It's not responsible," Micallef said. "It's dark, it's edgy, we're trying to show them as they really are. We do get every hot button issue including suicide. Because we are a TV show, unlike the film, we have a lot more time to get into what makes these characters click. In the original movie, Heather Chandler is just simply a monster. On our show, because we have more time, we're able to go behind that, see what's that about, is she really a a monster. I don't view the Heathers, in the movie or our show, as the villains at all. I view them as victims in their own right. They just manage to, through self-confidence, take that. We're able to explore that because we're a television show. Yes, the Heathers are aspirational, I think even more so. They have all the best lines. When you watch the original movie, they're the people you want to be, fortunately or unfortunately."

The 2018 update gives Veronica a more active role in the killings. In the movie, J.D. sets up the first two as accidents, and then Veronica tries to put a stop to it.

"We have the opportunity to explore it differently," Cox said. "You go from two hours to 10. People get to see a different side to their relationship and them as characters."

Sculley appreciated the more even two-hander. "A really interesting thing is in the movie, I feel like Christian's doing a lot of the pulling sort of until the final act," Sculley said. "Veronica is doing a lot of the following. Because we have 10 episodes, I think the give and take nature of the relationship becomes a lot more intense and interesting."

More specifically, Veronica will make some different choices in the show. "That was one of the main changes," Micallef said. "The first problem I had everyone tackle was it's 2018. No one's going to watch a girl for 10 episodes follow a guy around murdering people and whining about it. We crafted some very, very, very major character changes for Veronica Sawyer that come in later in the series."

The parents of Westerberg also bear responsibility for the students' dysfunction.

"We were very conscious of making sure all the adults are completely not seeing these kids at all," Micallef said. "Some are trying, some are not trying, but they're all not seeing. All the adults, when we film them we do that low angle look so they feel more distant and remote. The season obviously ends in some very dark places. Everyone's to blame but certainly the adults, the teachers and law enforcement shoulder a lot."

Fans of the movie may anticipate the fates of Heather Chandler, Kurt (Cameron Gellman) and Ram (Cayden Boyd). Micallef said a lot of the cast does not make it through the first season.

"Yes, people do die," Micallef said. "It is Heathers. Somewhere, more than one and less than five of these people [on the panel] are going to bite the bullet at various different times."

In success, Micallef suggested that a second season of Heathers could tell new stories in the world of Heathers as an anthology.

"We have to get picked up for a second season," Micallef said. "The idea is to take the spirit and then reset and run with it. The first season is really a jumping off point using the original film and then we're totally rebooting. It's a completely different show than the original movie. Heathers was like my Star Wars. This show is like a love letter to the original movie. Your viewing of it will be so much more enhanced if you watch the original movie beforehand. There are so many easter eggs and lines twisted and turned. Even little things hidden in the set. I am excited to reinvent every year."

Look for /Film's interview with creator Jason Micallef when Heathers premieres March 7, 2018 on Paramount Network.