Review by C.J. Bunce
Romeo and Juliet, Emma, American Graffiti, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Grease, Square Pegs, The Outsiders, Sixteen Candles, Say Anything, Heathers, Dazed and Confused, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Clueless (the best version of Emma), 10 Things I Hate About You, Veronica Mars, Orange County, Superbad, Riverdale. Writers have concocted several personal and entertaining coming of age movies and TV series over the years. Add to that list Netflix’s new series Boo, Bitch, a funny, clever, supernatural twist on the typical “last days of high school” story, full of snappy, witty dialogue that catches the genre up with the year 2022.
Boo, Bitch introduces viewers to BFFs Erika and Gia, high school seniors who don’t feel like they’ve experienced all they should have in the days leading up to their prom. After a night out together, Erika awakens to find she doesn’t remember how she got home. When they go back to the scene of their last memory, they find a girl’s body under a dead moose–with Erika’s shoes on it. Apparently a hit and run driver hit the moose which landed on Erika. Why does Erika suddenly cause all electricity to fade and spark around her? Because she’s dead.
After some speculation they decide Erika has UFB, or unfinished business, and before she rises from ghost or purgatory status she must carry out what that UFB is. It must be going to prom, right? In eight 25-minute episodes they go from friends to enemies as Erika sheds her inhibitions and begins to live the life she always hoped for, unfortunately leaving Gia behind.
But that’s just the framework. Two features make this worthy of comparing to all those great coming of age shows listed above. First, it’s that dialogue. Boo, Bitch is probably the best show yet at reflecting the banter of the current generation–full of massively long acronyms for everything important or otherwise–and all the guys are named Jake. The writers cram into each episode all the important coming of age sub-tropes and scenes. The fact that the cast can keep up with the rapid-fire dialogue is the second win of the series. And for people who love a good twist, you’ll want to stick with every episode to the end.
Erika, played by Vietnamese-born American actor Lana Condor (X-Men: Apocalypse, Alita: Battle Angel), gets center stage of the two stars because the story revolves around her. Both actors deliver equally believable performances as people who care about each other, but the real breakout performance in the series comes from Zoe Colletti (Fear the Walking Dead, City on a Hill) as Gia. As classic friends in genre are concerned, Gia is a female Samwise Gamgee from The Lord of the Rings. Most of the heavy lifting in the situational comedy antics the duo go through belong to Colletti.
As with so many teen series and movies, practically everyone on cast is far too old to pass for high schoolers. Yet the population of the girls’ high school has those same characters that feel just as real as Cher’s circle of friends in Clueless and Veronica’s clients in Veronica Mars. The fact that Colletti is the youngest of the stars at age 20 and she’s the best of the bunch and that all of the cast is believable enough as teenagers says a lot for the show. Teen viewers will also be all over the fashions of the cast.
The only negative may or may not be a negative for you: toward the end of the series the story takes a turn away from comedy teen angst fun and more toward one of those Nicholas Sparks sappy and dreary teen drama efforts. If that’s your thing you may love the ending as much as the first 75 percent of the series.
In addition to Condor and Colletti, every cast member gets to shine. Erika’s parents are just as sharp and with the times as Erika, played to full humorous effect by John Brantley Cole (Moneyball, Mystery Men) and Cathy Vu (Grimm, Leverage, The Librarians). Erika’s boyfriend is played by Mason Versaw (tick… tick, BOOM!), a mix of Joe Keery’s Steve Harrington from Stranger Things and Heath Ledger’s Patrick from 10 Things I Hate About You, and Gia’s doting, perfect guy for her boyfriend is played by Tenzing Norgay Trainor (Liv and Maddie, Abominable) (yes, he’s the famous mountain climber’s grandson). The girls’ frenemy camp includes mean teen girls played by 27-year-old Aparna Brielle (The Dead Girls Detective Agency) in a strong performance and Jami Alix (Coop and Cami Ask the World).
The “freak” clique of the past has greater purpose here, and includes Trainor, Savira Windyani (Unfriended: Dark Web), Abigail Achiri (The Underground Railroad), and Reid Miller (Play by Play). Two other standouts include a multi-tasking teen mom student played by Alyssa Jirrels (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), and a kid Erika dissed in the past played by Jason Genao (Logan). All of these are characters you’d love to get to know more in a second season.
But if you like shows like the 2003 series Dead Like Me and you’re a fan of coming of age movies, this series is not to be missed. Catch Boo, Bitch streaming now on Netflix.