It feels honestly refreshing when Netflix lives up to its brand and creates another amazing first season of television that you could not get anywhere else. This also feels like a strange end cap for the trilogy of female-led stories that are usually male-centric starting with Warrior Nun (interested in what Season 2 will be like), Cursed (that will be true if we get a season 2), and now Teenage Bounty Hunters.
The title is pretty direct about what the show is. It follows fraternal twin sisters Sterling and Blair, affluent Southerns who go to a private Christian school. After they both meet with their perspective boyfriends they get into a car accident with their father’s borrowed truck. However they just so happen to ram into a skip, someone who skipped out on their bail, they catch the guy just in time for Bowser, a bounty hunter to arrive. Through some shenanigans Bowser agrees to work with the girls and train them while using the frozen yogurt shop he owns as cover. Unfortunately teen life and drama doesn’t stop just because they hunt skips. Family mysteries, school rivalries, and a balanced life are just some of the issues the teens face being bounty hunters.
Saying this show is good feels like an understatement that can only compare to saying Cursed is bad. It’s missing the whole dang forest and trees. But, since this is not a full on analysis it is easier to say that the show more just snuck up on me and surprised me with being excellent rather than expecting good things like Unbrella Academy season two.
It’s immediately striking not only how good the performances of the two leads are, but of what amazing chemistry they have. Despite not being actual sisters it’s hard to tell. They feel just so drawn. They both start as stereotypes. Sterling the do gooder saint with Blair being the more rebellious one. But their dynamic is so engrained that it is broken so easily as to be the first scene in the show, and that feels important. It’s important to see that the show knows convention and can break it so easily but still feel real. In this case the sweet one has premarital sex while the rebel doesn’t.
That is not where the surprises end, though. For this aims higher and, like Righteous Gemstones before it, seeks to be a satire of upper class southern church going. Republicans. It does not go far enough, ultimately with their take down, settling for a morally correct view of being a Christian- being a loving person- but still upholds their natural place and doesn’t question it. That makes sense for the twins. They understand the right to have and use guns and thinks it’s okay, and that God and Chruch is good, but are open enough to see racial injustice where it is at, and how the older generations are out of touch in some ways.
Connected to that is the comedy, because it is a very funny show. There are so many incredible lines and side characters that feel at once all too real, while being just satirical enough to be a joke. In the bounty hunting realm it is Terrance Coin, a YouTuber famous for recording his exploits. Instead of being the braggadocious type, they trade him out for being a real sweet man who can turn it on for the camera and sees it all as a business. At the school it is Ellen, the… it’s not clear. It seems like just a programs and religious studies coordinator, but she’s never given a title. She is closer to her stereotype: a think-she’s-hip woman who is utterly nice and totally oblivious.
Finally, the plotting. The start of the show feels incredibly satisfying because it feels like the teen drama mixed with action every CW show wants to do. Think Riverdale (I assume) but good… Buffy or good Spider-Man comics. The bounty hunting is used to help build characters to make choices in their personal life. This leads to some very good pay offs at the end. It’s the middle where it falters like most Netflix shows do. That’s by forgoing much of the premise for drama. Even the best of Netflix, like Daredevil season one (I mean imaging have a show about a blind lawyer superhero but only have one courtroom scene. Still annoys me), has this problem. It focuses on drama that’s caused by events relating to the premise, but isn’t the premise. Again, this works at the end as a culmination, unfortunately the end has its own problems. I won’t go into spoilers, but the final episode, specifically the skip hunt, feels too far. In the shows defense it sets up a good counter to our sisters, but pushes it all too far.
I keep coming back to just how honest the twins feel. Their bond, banter, and heartfelt moments about love and growing up hits me in a place. They are just so likable that It makes every feel good. Even in the midst of tedious high school drama the actresses play it so well that I feel for them. It’s truly remarkable. I won’t swear to it, but I have hope for a potential second season. Jenji Kohan of Orange is the New Black fame is on the staff. OITNB has its myriad of problems (mostly a sense of nothing happening and stretching the hell out of a premise. The book it was based on was only a couple hundred pages, not The Stand or Game of Thrones. Also, Piper sucked and made it insufferable), but staying real to characters and plotting was rarely one. I have hope my girls will do good in another season. I want more of them!
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