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Paramount Shelves Two Episodes of ‘Heathers,’ Upgrading Show From Mistake to Unmitigated Disaster

It’s been hard for Heathers to catch a break. You try to do a black comedy about the power dynamics of social media and your show keeps getting pulled from the air and eventually burned off over Halloween because we can’t stop having actual school shootings long enough to air a show depicting school violence.

Now even the burn-off of Heathers has been interrupted by a shooting. Yes, because of the mass shooting in Pittsburgh this past weekend, two episodes of Heathers have been shelved because of their theme of shootings. Which is kind of the theme of the whole show. It’s based on a movie about kids who murder their classmates using a perceived teen suicide epidemic as a cover; there is going to be violence in this show, it’s part of the DNA of the concept.

Heathers was supposed to be the crown jewel in The Paramount Network’s push into prestige programming. At its core, it’s a retelling off the beloved cult classic that does the things the studio didn’t have the nerve to do in the 1980s. It turns out, unsurprisingly, that studios still don’t have the nerve to do those things in 2018. Mel Brooks has said for a while that he could never get Blazing Saddles made today. Heathers feels the same to me, a show that could never get made in the current political climate. Only it was made. And then the networks got cold feet.

The negative reviews didn’t help, I’m sure. If it had been praised across the board, maybe they’d have been willing to put it on the air and stand behind it. But they had already edited it to cut down on the violence, including removing the ending. The same ending that was removed from the movie. That has to suck for the crew who made the show, one of the big things for them had to be the thought that “this is great, we get to make the ending they wanted to make but weren’t allowed” and then it gets cut. Again.

Paramount should have stood behind their show. You put it on the air and you take the blow back. You think people didn’t complain about The Sopranos? People complained about The Sopranos. But HBO stood behind it and it ushered in an entire new era of television. Heathers isn’t The Sopranos, but guess what. You’re now the network that jerks a show around and then hacks it to pieces. No one is going to want to sell their show to you now.

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