Sat. Oct 1st, 2022

Fraternal twin sisters Sterling (Maddie Phillips) and Blair (Anjelica Bette Fellini) join forces with bounty hunter Bowser Simmons (Kadeem Hardison) in new Netflix series Teen bounty hunters

Twin sisters juggle the demands of high school, their Christian youth group and raging hormones with an appearance at a local bounty hunter in the new Netflix series. Teen bounty hunters† Creator Kathleen Jordan’s delightful comedy-drama is sure to bring some laughs with its razor-sharp satire, but it’s also a smart, nuanced coming of age story with some really surprising twists. One of the executive producers is Jenji Kohan, who also collaborated on weedsGLOW, and Orange is the new blackand Teen bounty hunters shares a similar sensitivity.

(Slight spoilers below, but no major revelations.)

According to the official premise:

Sixteen-year-old fraternal twin sister Sterling (Maddie Phillips, Summerland) and Blair (Anjelica Bette Fellini, the gifted) Wesley teams up with veteran bounty hunter Bowser Jenkins (Kadeem Hardison, black monday) for an over-the-top adventure as they delve into the world of bail skipping bad guys and suburban secrets as they try to navigate the high school drama – love, sex, and college.

Atlanta high school students Sterling and Blair accidentally meet Bowser one night when their father’s expensive hunting truck crashes into the car of a bail-jumper (“skip”) he’s chasing. And like the good Southern Christian girls that they are, they have weapons and are more than proficient with those weapons, capturing Bowser’s ball for him in exchange for a share of the reward. They make their way to more jobs with him to make up for the damage to the truck, telling their petty parents that they work at Yogurtopia, a frozen yogurt shop Bowser runs when he’s not tracking down containers. (Every bounty hunter needs an afterthought.)

The original title was Slutty Teen Bounty Hunters, but Netflix dropped the “slutty” moniker when the premiere date was announced. That was a good decision, because one of the show’s strong points is the straightforward, downright honest way it handles teenage sex. Neither sister is actually “slutty,” no matter how much they like to throw that adjective because they think it sounds bad. They are in that phase of ‘pushing the boundaries of society’ of teenage development. the nickname power apply to “Horny Lorna” (Given Sharp, Swamp thing), a notoriously promiscuous fellow student at Willingham Academy, the twins’ private school. But even Lorna is quite performative in her alleged sluttyness, so maybe she’s making some of it up too.

Sterling loses her virginity to longtime boyfriend Luke (Spencer House, space power), in the pilot – she seduces him by quoting Bible verses. Blair hasn’t had sex yet, but she’s been pretty level-headed about seeking feedback from the guy she’s seen about the technical prowess of her handjobs. In other words, they both have perfectly healthy, normal sexual urges, and they have a desire to act on those urges — on their own terms.

That said, it’s behavior that certainly qualifies as “slutty” within their Christian youth community, especially with Sterling’s nemesis, the ambitious smug April (Devon Hales, The inhabitant† The satirization of the evangelical Christian purity culture is perfect. Wanting nothing more than to oust Sterling and take charge of the fellowship, April sees her chance when she suspects Sterling isn’t as pure as the others think.

Indeed, Sterling is banned if she gets out of having sex with Luke, at least until she finds out how to play the “redemption game” to regain the favor of the fellowship. If there is one thing evangelical circles love as much as condemning and banishing the fallen, it is welcoming the fallen back into the fold after they hit the bottom, have been “touched by Jesus” and repent of their bad manners. The way Sterling milks her ‘special’ status as a repentant sinner, compared to her cohorts hungry to experience something ‘real’, is masterful.

The satirization of the evangelical Christian purity culture is perfect.

Phillips and Fellini are great as the twin sisters, bringing just the right mix of bravado, innocence, curiosity and vulnerability into their roles. They are charming and lovable characters when they could easily have been annoying. Hardison’s weary Bowser can’t help but feel protective of them from his annoyance – they’re still teenagers, no matter how helpful they prove to be when it comes to infiltrating exclusive (all-white) country clubs and nursing homes. Their relationship with Bowser reveals that his heart is bigger than his superficial cynicism would otherwise confirm.

The supporting cast is just as good. There’s a rival bounty hunter with his own popular YouTube channel, Terrance Coin (played to perfection by Cliff “Method Man” Smith, The wire), which is Bowser’s competition not only for prime skips with big payouts, but also for the affection of bail bondsman Yolanda (Shirley Rumierk, Rise† Hales’ April may seem like the stereotypical insincere goody-two shoes that endlessly spew evangelical slogans, but Hales brings so much more depth to the character as the season progresses.

Virginia Williams (fuller house) stars as the twins’ mother, Debbie Wesley, who may well have a secret of her own, and Wynn Everett (This is us, Agent Carter) is pure perfection as Ellen Johnson, the relentlessly cheerful fellowship teacher at Willingham Academy. Mackenzie Astin (The Magicians, Rosewood) plays the father of the twins, Anderson, and he takes what could have been a one-dimensional role and reveals the man hiding under the veneer of the perfect Christian patriarch.

The cast has the pleasure of working with some very clever, clever writing and directing. The dialogue is perfect, the characters are complicated in interesting ways, and these ten episodes are expertly tempered, making Teen bounty hunters a perfect weekend binge.

Teen bounty hunters is now streaming on Netflix.

List image by Netflix

By akfire1

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