Run away, Drazic! The streaming gods spent some time rummaging through the nostalgia bin again, and this time they brought out the old Australian teen drama Heartbreak High (Netflix). The series, which defined post-tea-time television for a generation of ’90s kids, has been adapted and rebooted for the digital age. We’re back at Hartley High, only this time teens have an active sex life, smartphones, and the freedom to swear with impunity.
Heartbreak High has always been grittier than its soapy countrymen, such as Neighbors and Home and Away, and while this update doesn’t avoid the toughest problems, it has a far more ironic tone and a generous sense of humor. Whether that humor will land with all viewers remains to be seen; I imagine some of them will succeed or fail along generational lines. But this Heartbreak High has a big heart and its teens aren’t entirely unbearable – an achievement in the difficult world of contemporary teen TV. Also, someone reads fictional news from the Guardian at least twice, which is a certain indicator of good taste.
It centers on two previously inseparable best friends, Amerie and Harper, who are torn apart by a mysterious grudge that turns them into enemies. I would like to tell you what the starting point is for all of the drama, but Netflix has released critics with a list of spoilers they would like us to avoid, which includes the main source of action for the whole thing, even if it happens in the first few minutes and almost everything. what happens is about this. (It also means I couldn’t tell if there’s a link between this lot and the original 90s series.)
Presumably, it’s safe to explain that this ends up in Mean Girls territory, only with a greater focus on sex. The lovable Amerie, who is as charismatic as she is clumsy, briefly becomes persona non grata, even if that puts her on the familiar trajectory of the teenage misfit popular girl drama, where she befriends the original misfits Darren and Quinni. Despite most of the school being pitted against her, she finds there is more to life than being universally adored and having a crush on the sexiest guy in the world, a type of model called Dusty. (Dusty is portrayed so clearly by a professional male model in his 20s that it’s ridiculous to see him as a schoolboy, even though this is TV aware enough to suggest that he somehow knows.)
More crucial is the breakup of Amerie and Harper’s relationship after a terrible trip to a music festival, which leads to a hidden trauma that takes a long time to unfold. There is something sweet about Heartbreak High’s insistence that the central romance is platonic between teenage girls, and the message is very clear that there are more important things to worry about than sex, love and relationships. guys, even if they are nice diversions. The supporting cast is strong, especially non-binary character Darren and their partner Quinni, two queer kids who have their own problems to overcome, even if they do so with the grace and dignity that television often bestows on its outcasts. high school.
While the children are arguing with each other, there are bigger problems at hand. Hartley High has a bad reputation and ranks lower in the area, which is putting its funding at risk. You’ll just have to trust me when I say there’s a reason students end up having to go through sex literacy tutorials, becoming self-greasing “sluts”, where they try to rebel against an “outdated and heteronormative” school sex education program. .
If this all sounds familiar, it’s because it’s so similar to Sex Education – from the tone, to the out-of-school area where some spoiler-like things happen – that if they weren’t both on Netflix, I was wondering if Netflix would have something to say. to about. It basically removes the element of the sex therapist, moves it to the southern hemisphere and hopes for the best. This is not necessarily a bad thing. After all, sex ed works primarily because of the way it pairs warmth and openness with coarse humor and farce. But it left me feeling like I’ve seen most of this before.
However, I started watching it wearily, ready to be let down by yet another reboot, and in that sense it exceeds expectations. It’s well-trodden territory, sure, but it’s fun, dry, and more compelling than it initially seems. Now get out and finish your homework.