This series remake of 1988’s cult classic is something of a marvel. Where the first movie was reviled upon initial release by short-sighted critics who reflexively dismissed the movie’s themes over its contents, the exact same thing happened with the television series thirty years later… by the same people who embraced the movie and turned it into a cult classic in the first place. The series has a free-for-all disdain for just about everyone connected to high school culture: Right-wingers for ignoring common sense solutions to everyday problems, left-wingers for focusing too much on labels while hypocritically arguing that labels are restrictive, and middle-center folks for sticking their heads in the sand whenever it’s convenient. Perhaps that’s why critics hated it so much: No one is safe from the show’s vicious tongue, and it feels very much like the Wild Wild West at all times, with no clear lead or any likable character to be found as the show digs its claws into anyone and everyone. It often feels like a mean-spirited but entertaining parody of CW shows like “Riverdale” and “Gossip Girl,” not to mention a parody of its source material and, ultimately, of itself: It packs so many forced, deliberately awkward shout-outs to the source material that it enters into full-on self-parody by calling into question the very purpose of a television adaptation of a classic movie. By the last episode, it’s hard not to notice that the show has to rush through its conclusion and ends up delivering its worst episode when it should instead be its most notable, with all of its themes getting jumbled together in a try-hard mess of a finale that goes nowhere. However, getting there is a blast for those who aren’t easily offended or have delicate sensibilities, but being familiar with the source material and aforementioned teenage soap opera conventions helps a lot.
Rating: ★★★ (out of 5)