Pop Culture Fix: “Heathers” Remake Has A Black Lesbian Heather and A Queer Director

+ FUCK ME GENTLY WITH A CHAINSAW. TV Land is re-making Heathers, one of the best movies of all time, as a “comedic anthology,” with queer writer/director Leslye Headland at the helm. In the reboot, everything will be hella gay:

TV Land’s take is described as a black comedy that takes place in the present day. It features a new set of popular-yet-evil Heathers — only this time the outcasts have become high school royalty. Heather McNamara (originally played by Lisanne Falk) is a black lesbian; Heather Duke (Shannen Doherty) is a male who identifies as gender-queer whose real name is Heath; and Heather Chandler (Kim Walker) has a body like Martha Dumptruck.

The Hollywood Reporter‘s unnecessary hyphenation of “gender-queer” and utilization of “real name” instead of “birth name” and their tacky employment of “a body like Martha Dumptruck” aside — there is not a thing on this planet I am more stoked for than Heathers who are a black lesbian, a genderqueer person and a fat girl. HELL YEAH FEMINIST HEATHERS.

35-year-old director and playright Leslye Headland (Sleeping With Other People), who has an undercut and is engaged to actress Rebecca Henderson, told THR that she saw the film for the first time in her 20s, and “related with it so much. I can’t believe they got away with so much. The movie was a huge influence on an entire generation and it’ll be nice to introduce this to a new generation.”

Screenshot 2016-09-07 09.41.07

Leslye Headland and Rebecca Henderson at the “Appropriate Behavior” premiere

Headland was tapped earlier this year to direct an untitled Weeks/Mackay lesbian-straight duo comedy for ABC which ultimately did not get picked up by the network. Her play “The Layover” is currently running Off-Broadway — a play sparked by her fascination with Patricia Highsmith’s psychological thrillers. (Highsmith is the lesbian author of “The Price of Salt,” which inspired Carol.)

In a New York Times profile last month, Headland talked a little bit about coming to terms with her sexual orientation:

Ms. Headland wrote the play shortly before she began dating Ms. Henderson, when she still felt “unwilling to be openly — I don’t even know — gay, bi, not straight,” she said. The characters in the play aren’t honest about who they are, because neither was Ms. Headland. “I was so scared for so long to be out, and I don’t know why,” she said. The play emerged in part from a deep unhappiness she felt at the time, a sense of irreparable emptiness.

She also told The Times that “I’m in a wonderful relationship. I can’t wait to get married. I love her. But love is ephemeral, love is fleeting, love is a very terrifying thing.”

Stories Not About Heathers

+ Sarah Paulson is taking Marcia Clark to the Emmys! So if Sarah Paulson wins, they’ll go up there together, and then everybody’s feminist hearts will explode.

+ So many people are gay! It’s just a matter of time before we all gather our machetes and our sexual identities and just set fire to the place, you know? Anyhow, today in “Everyone is Gay”:

+ Ann M Martin, who wrote one of my favorite lesbian protagonists ever, Kristy Thomas, and also Mallory, who is gay, IS ALSO GAY. Read Heather’s article about it here.

+ One of fashion’s up-and-coming-it girls, Selena Forrest, told New York Magazine that she loves girls and only dates girls. If she had to pick a label she would pick bisexual. Read all about that here.

+ Mary & Jane, a new MTV show about best friends named Paige (Jessica Rothe) and Jordan (Scout Durwood) running a weed delivery service, is not about queer stuff. But it’s also not not about queer stuff, as an over-paginated article from AfterEllen disclosed. The two actresses teased sexual tension between the two ladies, with Scout declaring, “We have those moments, but they’re a little more light-hearted. They’re less sincere. Because everybody’s gay. I think guys have this kind of bromance genre now, and that’s fine, now it’s becoming a thing, and it’s great. I think we’re kind of like the femme bromance. So even though it’s not sexual, it’s everything but. Like it’s emotional.” Ummmm… okay???

Vogue had this to say about the program: “At its best it’s got something of the charm of a Pineapple Express mixed with that of a stoner-baiting Taco Bell commercial. At its worst it’s a lifeless, flat buddy comedy.”

+ The creator of Last Tango in Halifax says it was a mistake to kill off their lesbian character Kate (Nina Sosanya) in a car crash, which happened after Kate married her partner, Caroline. “It was a shock. I didn’t realise how attached the audience had become to that relationship and to those two characters,” she said in an interview at the Edinburgh TV Fest. “I found [the criticism] hard and I regretted it. I do think I made a mistake. I wished I had found a better story.”

+ Laverne Cox models as Beyonce, Tina Turner and Tracey Africa in Cosmopolitan Magazine.

+ Sia and Maddie Ziegler’s new music video, which features a verse from Kendrick Lamar, is a tribute to Orlando. It’s very intense.

+ Hollywood is bad at trans stories, here are some films you can watch instead. (Also these!)

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Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3213 articles for us.


  1. Is anyone else really worried that casting oppressed minorities who usually lack social power in schools as the mean girls who rule the school and bully all the other girls and are then murdered over it is in fact going to be the opposite of good representation?

    • That was my first thought to. Made me think of those dystopian stories where they reverse a real-world hierarchy to “enlighten” the real-world privileged class. But really it just reinforces that class’s belief in their own benevolent superiority, because they basically turn into pious Christ-like figures enduring the evils of the real-world oppressed class.

  2. What the hell were those two actresses even trying to say in that interview? “Everybody’s gay”(…but not really). “We are a femme bromance. But not sexual”. Girl, what are you on about? That seemed like a really poor attempt at trying to queer-bait us into watching their show.

    And then their is the creator of Last Tango in Halifax. “It was a shock. I didn’t realise how attached the audience had become to that relationship and to those two characters,” WHAT? You didn’t know the two main characters of YOUR show were popular enough that the audience would be pissed off that you killed one of them just as they were finally happy? Even if they weren’t important characters on the show, it’s not like their are plenty of shows in the UK with lesbian/bi characters so I don’t know how it is she thought she wasn’t going to get a hefty amount of backlash for killing off one of the few that exist.

    • i also really like it when straight people inform me how *cool* it is that their show is “queer” and not “gay” because of These Modern Times. like nope. there is no hierarchy. queer is not better or “more evolved” than gay OR vice versa and straight people are not qualified to comment on it at all!

  3. I shall be cautiously optimistic about Heathers. You want to fuck with the eagles, you have to learn to fly.

  4. Sorry but what happened to Sarah Paulson being a LGBT icon? What actually gives?? She has an Emmy winning female partner but is taking someone else as her date? If she wins, we won’t see her celebrate with her partner like the other winners and how many nominees are actually in relationships with people of the same gender? I’ve counted. None of them.

    My feminist heart won’t explode at all.

    • Last year she and Holland weren’t yet open about their relationship but it was strongly hinted on twitter, and then they were clearly there together at the Emmys and it was so exciting and like if she wins will they kiss and then that’s how it comes out? Sarah herself came out by kissing Cherry Jones when Cherry won a Tony. So… this is kinda disappointing, like after 6 nominations she’s playing it very safe. I still hope she finally wins.

      • With this, she is choosing to be invisible. We have no LGBT couples representing at the Emmys.

        She knows she’s gonna win

      • They haven’t been hiding their relationship, they attended the Critics Choice Awards together recently, and because she chose to attend the Emmy’s with the person she might win an Emmy for playing instead of her girlfriend she’s “playing it safe” and “choosing to be invisible”?


        She doesn’t owe anyone anything. It’s not her fault there aren’t other lgbt couples in the nominees. She’s worked damn hard to get these nominations and just because she is an out actress doesn’t mean she shouldn’t have a choice in who she brings, like any straight actor would.

        It’s got to be a little strange to play a living person on TV and it’s a pretty cool way to thank them for being supportive to invite them to such a big event. And we have no idea, nor is it our business, if there is a reason Hollande Taylor couldn’t or didn’t want to go.

  5. I was really sleepy when I started reading this but ‘fuck me gently with a chainsaw’ sure woke me right up!

  6. “…over-paginated article from AfterEllen…” is all too true for everything they post. I can’t stand it and can seldom make myself visit every page of a six to eight page post, now with ever more typos, too.

  7. So just to be clear Shannen Doherty is playing an amab genderqueer trans person? Or she playing a genderqueer trans man? Personally, I’d be offended if someone called me a male who id’s as genderqueer just because of my assigned gender at birth. Ugh. The rest of the show could be interesting, but this is TVLand and besides watching the Golden Girls on the weekends, I don’t know what their target audience is.

    • She’s not playing the character in the reboot the new actor will be playing the position her character did in the first movie.

    • I think they just inserted the actors who played the original roles – I’m fairly certain Lisanne Falk isn’t going to play a black lesbian teenager either.

      That said, this could well be a trainwreck. It could be awesome, but cis queer women don’t have the greatest track record writing trans people. We’ll see

    • shannen doherty was the original actress. the actors/actresses for this new show are not confirmed/released yet

  8. I’m not sure how I feel about this – not because of a more diverse cast, because that is always great. I am just a little torn because this is one of the movies that shaped who I am, was pivotal during my formative years, and is still one of my favorites of all time. It’s hard to see those kinds of movies remade, but maybe it will be good. I’d give it a chance – I saw Heathers: The Musical, and that was a lot of fun. I can always get behind a good tribute.

  9. I did not watch Last Tango in Halifax, but it is vindicating to see someone finally fucking say it was a straight up mistake to kill their lesbian characters and to regret it and wished they did it differently. I am so sick SO SICK of the “this was right for the story/right for the character etc.” evasive bullshit from writers and showrunners.

    • Yes, but right after she says that she says, “But it was a really good story.” So Sallly is sorry not sorry I guess.

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