Teenage Bounty Hunters
Creator: Kathleen Jordan
Starring: Maddie Phillips, Anjelica Bette Fellini, Kadeem Hardison, Virginia Williams, Mackenzie Astin, Shirley Rumierk
Runtime: 10 episodes
Looking at the title, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Teenage Bounty Hunters was simply another teen drama in the same vein as Riverdale. Certainly, the marketing made it seem that way. In reality, Teenage Bounty Hunters couldn’t be more different from Riverdale and other shows of its ilk.
The show follows two fraternal twins, Sterling and Blair Wesley, who are thrown into the world of bounty hunting after crashing their father’s car. In order to pay for the damage, they end up working for an experienced bounty hunter named Bowser Simmons, while keeping the true nature of their work hidden from their parents. The only issue is they’re not the only one in this town with secrets, and throughout the show, these are uncovered while the twins work to pay off the debt they owe their parents.
The show’s greatest strength is easily the acting. While the writing is pretty well-done, the chemistry between the actresses playing Sterling and Blair Wesley (Maddie Phillips and Anjelica Bette Fellini respectively) is so much fun to watch. They bounce off each other like real twins, and you rapidly start to buy into their relationship and how much they mean to each other. Kadeem Hardison’s portrayal of Bowser is complex and multi-faceted, with it slowly becoming clear he’s hiding a heart of gold under a tired, world-weary exterior. Even characters that start out as seemingly flat and bland, the portrait of stereotypical Christians, grow over time, with Devon Hale’s April being a stand-out in this aspect.
If there’s a criticism of the acting, it’s that the actors playing the parents of various students can sometimes feel like they’re being too over the top. It’s infrequent, but when this happens it serves to take the viewer out of the show and shows cracks in the cast of the show.
During the course of the ten episodes, the show explores the nature of Christianity and religion and how beliefs can be challenged and developed through growth. It also deals with issues such as racism and in one particularly well-handled storyline, the struggles of closeted LGBTQ youth. There are points that the show takes too heavy-handed an approach to messaging, but these are few and far between.
It also takes an incredible approach to teenage sex and the want that youth have to explore themselves and discover what they want from life. In the hands of worse writers, this could have been a one-note storyline, with it being characterised as an anti-christian act, but it’s done so well here that you begin to feel what these characters are going through. The satirization of purity culture within religion is ratcheted up to eleven during the course of this storyline, but it never reaches a point of being unbelievable.
Fascinating in the way only surrealistic television can be, Teenage Bounty Hunters is a funny yet layered addition to the Netflix catalogue. With likable characters and interesting storylines allowing for character development on almost all fronts, and an exploration of co-dependency and the bond between siblings, it’s certainly worth the watch if you have the time.
Teenage Bounty Hunters
While flawed, Teenage Bounty Hunters handles the societal matters it chooses to tackle with surprising deftness and tact. The pacing can be muddled at points and sometimes the show crosses the line from surreal into unreal, but otherwise, this is a surprising underground hit for Netflix's television department.