In what seems like the endless stream of Netflix content (especially teen related content) the platform giant has become home to ideas and stories that don’t really fit on any traditional TV network. It has become the place where just about any wild thought a show creator may have is given the space to exist— whether they are successful or not is determined once it drops.
The latest in Netflix’s teen content boom is Kathleen Jordan’s Teenage Bounty Hunters (formerly known as Slutty Teenage Bounty Hunters). The American Princess staff writer brings us Sterling and Blair Wesley, fraternal twins who could not be more different. Living on the bible belt the teenage twins revolt against the conservative mindset of their community in their own ways. Sterling (Maddie Phillips) wholly embraces the good Christian girl vibe, although she does commit the cardinal sin of having sex before marriage. Meanwhile, Blair (Anjelica Bette Fellini) is your typical progressive teen who sees the major flaws with the Christian ideal forced upon her. Life is all fine and dandy until the two get into a collision which quickly leads them into a life of bounty hunting.
On paper the series sounds like a lot of fun as it your typical teen comedy about two horny teenagers navigating high school life, but they are also bounty hunters. As interesting as the idea of the show is, the execution could have been a bit more bombastic. While the dialogue and the lead characters are painted with rather exaggerated strokes, it all comes across rather lifeless; this is most evident with the cast, who despite putting in their all, just don’t come across as interesting or dynamic as they could be. Maddie Phillips is the clear exception as she is extremely charismatic and balances the contradicting characteristics that make up Sterling. Also, between the two actresses, Phillips manages to get the accent right— or at least the cadence of the Georgian accent— whereas Anjelica Bette Fellini feels more New York.
As for the rest of the ensemble, Kadeem Hardison looks and feels bored, and everyone else just doesn’t have that charm or comical skill to pull off the sometimes absurd or offbeat humour that is so needed in a show with this premise.
Despite a neat little trick that showcases the twins connection with each other, the show lacks a visual flare or energy to coax a sense of excitement. Technically speaking everything is fine, there is just nothing in the presentation that matches the attitude and edge that is on the page. As for the writing, it is fairly impeccable; the dialogue between the sisters light and fun. The pop culture references matched with the twins’ quick wit do a lot to carry the show, even if the actresses don’t necessarily ‘pop’ on screen.
Teenage Bounty Hunters will certainly find it’s fanbase, and perhaps longevity on the platform. Teen content has a habit of defying the odds on Netflix, and Teenage Bounty Hunters offers something a little unique and different from the onslaught of teen romances and brooding teen soap operas. Although all the pieces of the show don’t quite fit there is something here that can be enjoyed. There is a heart and intention that peeks through and it’s at least something to hold onto.
Teenage Bounty Hunters is available to stream on Netflix now
by Ferdosa Abdi
Ferdosa (she/her) is a lifetime student of cinema. Three of her current favourite films are: Addams Family Values, Cinderella (2015), and Emma. (2020). On Twitter you can see her support women-led cinema, her ongoing love/hate relationship with Disney, her totally healthy obsession with Eva Green, and her great admiration for Guillermo del Toro.