Paramount Network has put plans to premiere “Heathers” next week on hold. A modern remake of the ‘80s film was originally scheduled to debut on March 7, but Paramount Net said the channel opted to delay the show in the wake of the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
The network issued at statement on Wednesday:
Paramount Network’s original series “Heathers” is a satirical comedy that takes creative risks in dealing with many of society’s most challenging subjects ranging from personal identity to race and socio-economic status to gun violence. While we stand firmly behind the show, in light of the recent tragic events in Florida and out of respect for the victims, their families and loved ones, we feel the right thing to do is delay the premiere until later this year.
A new premiere date has yet to be announced.
An insider said the network “took a beat” and considered the timing, given the ongoing conversation about gun violence in schools. It was “joint voices” inside Viacom who came to the decision, and insiders stressed that mixed reviews for the remake didn’t play a role in the decision to pull the show right now. Paramount Network’s scheduling team is strategizing right now on when and where to reschedule the show’s launch. The news comes a day after Paramount Network touted its early ratings, noting that the network’s January primetime average in adults 18-49 (0.4 rating) was up 50 percent vs. what Spike TV posted in its final quarter on the air.
“Heathers” is the latest show to delay its premiere in light of a gun massacre: USA also opted to push the premiere of its drama “Shooter” after a string of shootings in July 2016. Several other series have pre-empted episodes following similar tragedies.
The new “Heathers” is a contemporary “pitch-black comedy” in which Veronica Sawyer (Grace Victoria Cox), the role made famous on the big screen by Winona Ryder, enters a new school and becomes a part of the popular clique of Heathers. The modern twist is that the Heathers this time are students who are usually marginalized and the ones being bullied in high school. Heather Chandler (Melanie Field) is the heavyset leader, Heather “Heath” Duke (Brendan Scannell) is gender queer, and Heather McNamara (Jasmine Mathews) is naive and timid.
The original 1989 film starring Ryder, Christian Slater, and Shannen Doherty, and the TV series both address identity, popularity, suicide, and teen violence in high school. In advance episodes given to critics for review, the fifth episode includes school shooting imagery that could be disturbing to viewers.