Movie Rated: 18+
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Crime
Digital Premiere Date: 14 August 2020
High school is hard enough when you’re just an average teenager trying to get by with good grades, and perhaps a semblance of social life. It’s even harder when you’re part of a conservative Christian community in Atlanta. And even harder (pun totally intended) if you’re permanently aroused (innocently ‘borrowing’ your dad’s car to hook up with boys), and also kinda good at catching fugitives. When we first meet Blair and Sterling, the latter has just lost her virginity. On the way back home, they crash into a runaway convict and Bowser, the bounty hunter hired to nab him. Impressing Bowser with their speed, agility, and shooting skills, they take on the role of interns in the field. Meanwhile, boyfriends, bullies and bitches at school, parental pressure, and the need to get to Church on time, still exists.
On face value, Teenage Bounty Hunters are precisely as the story suggests - a frivolous comedy about two teenage girls. It’s got hilarious scenes of crime-solving when the girls try and make themselves useful, some truly great action sequences, and a lot of funny one-liners, especially from the old and tired Bowser who doesn’t know what to do when the girls start talking about kissing in his car as they try and stalk the bait. But the show is also meaningful, trying to raise questions about sexuality, religion, morality, and race in this orthodox town. Each episode has a new criminal on the run (with one major mystery as an overarching theme across the season, not to mention the girls’ personal lives at stake), but one or two episodes specifically hold more resonance in this era than ever, making Teenage Bounty Hunters transcend the stale kitschiness of a dated teen dramedy from the 80s or 90s.
Teenage Bounty Hunters thrive on the fact that the fraternal twins share immense chemistry. It could get exhausting to see these two girls devote themselves to each other as much as they do to themselves if they didn’t possess a genuine camaraderie. Maddie Phillips and Angelica Bette Fellini are fantastic performers, giving naturally comedic performances that are quippy and restrained at just the right places. The show plays well on the kooky dynamics between the two girls and their redneck parents, played by Virginia Williams and Mackenzie Astin. This seemingly straightforward but intriguing relationship is explored well through the show. But it plays best when the girls ride shotgun with Bowser, played by Kadeem Hardison, who happens to be their mentor and boss. It’s a familial relationship where Hardison is as respectful of their tenacity as he is exhausted by their teenage-y-ness, not to mention his own weariness with the world, which makes for comedy gold.
This comedy also rides on some crackling dialogue, which is almost Clueless-level profound and quotable. Sterling puts a gun in her purse because “I wasn’t going to meet up with a bounty hunter unarmed—that’s just common sense!” And it really is, isn’t it? Teenage Bounty Hunters are made up of two parts - that of navigating high school and life in a difficult time, and also coming face-to-face with danger in the world of bounty hunting. Both these elements are essential to the story, and both are as loaded, profound, and funny as the other, put together or separately. The show is created by American Princess scribe Kathleen Jordan, and she and her team of writers own the humour in every realistic and complicated exchange at school for every unrealistic goose chase around town.
And perhaps this may be its only flaw. That at the end of the day, how these girls manage to keep their grades up, deal with beauty queens in school, navigate romance and sex with their boyfriends, go to Church, keep a faux-job at a yogurt shop, socialize, spend time with their family AND bounty hunt… well, teach me, girls. I barely have one job and I’m still struggling to manage my time. The episodes also tend to drag out a bit sometimes. Each is times at around 48-50 minutes when it could very well be a bit shorter. Still, it has enough charm to keep you hooked and not complain.
Music and Other Departments
Teen shows are big on angry grunge and rock soundtracks these days, and this one isn’t, which is great. They do use some country classics and new discoveries here and there, which is quite welcome. The show has impeccable production design and has been shot across some lush properties on location in Atlanta, making it look very authentic.
Did I Enjoy It?
Yes. I’m super impressed by the witty one-liners and how the characters play off each other. I can’t wait for season 2.
Do I Recommend It?
Yes. 'Teenage Bounty Hunters' is bound to surprise you in the way it shows off a unique side to the world of American teenagers. Go for it!