Teenage Bounty Hunters Review (Spoiler-Free)
Netflix’s latest attempt to corner the teen market brings us the lively and diverting yet inconsequential Teenage Bounty Hunters..
This Teenage Bounty Hunters review contains no spoilers and is based on the first five episodes.
When it comes to television shows about teenagers who stumble into a purpose greater than that experienced by their peers – something both dangerous and occasionally thrilling – Teenage Bounty Hunters is in some very good company. Whether it’s the classics like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Veronica Mars, or some of the more recent superhero fare, it’s not hard to find shows that want to capture the particular demographic-conquering magic that comes with this kind of premise.
The series follows twin sisters Sterling (Maddie Phillips) and Blair (Anjelica Bette Fellini) as they accidentally enter the world of bounty hunting following a freak road accident. Veteran bounty hunter Bowser (Kadeem Hardison) reluctantly takes them under his wing – primarily because of their access to the world of privilege he’s barred from, but also their ability to #hustle – and they begin moonlighting under the guise of frozen yogurt shop workers.
It’s a silly premise, and Teenage Bounty Hunters is certainly a silly show. That’s not a knock, as it’s precisely its commitment to its own irreverence that allows it to work. It doesn’t hurt that both Phillips and Fellini are absolute stars, working with rapid-fire material that could have easily tripped up lesser performers. The show doesn’t work without them, period.
The religious aspect of the show, which is too central to both the characters’ motivations and most of the subplots to ignore, will likely be a dealbreaker for some, whether that’s because of its facetious tone or the inclusion of so much faith-based talk in the first place. But, while the first couple of episodes really do treat the girls’ lives at a Catholic school as something to poke fun at, later episodes take a much more nuanced approach.
It’s an astute move, with the show even beginning with Sterling, the more conservative of the twins, losing her virginity in the back of her boyfriend’s car, but later digging into the emotional ramifications stemming from the act. It’s a balancing act, but kind of refreshing to see a show aimed at teenagers deal with some of these issues with a gentler touch than most.
That said, the parts of the show focused on the girls’ bounty hunting inevitably end up being more entertaining than the teenage squabbles, scandals, and boy troubles at school. Giving them a mentor in Bowser works really well, and thankfully never comes off creepy despite the age difference. The dynamic is somewhat Veronica/Keith Mars-esque, even without the familial connection, and gives the twins a much-needed straight man to bounce off.
The best way to describe the tone and pace of Teenage Bounty Hunters is frantic – a serious crime drama this is not. It does as many things viewers could find annoying (the twins’ ability to sidebar without anyone around them hearing comes to mind) as things that are utterly charming (everything else they do), and the frenzied momentum that’s built up each episode nicely distracts from some of the moral questions we could have about bounty hunting in general.
While only half of the season was viewed before reviewing, there aren’t any red flags suggesting the usual mid-season slump of Netflix shows will be a serious problem and, should the rest of episodes keep being as fun and distracting as the first half, there’s definitely enough material here for a second go-around.
While it never peaks above the ‘pretty decent’ level of amusement, the show could be just perfect for this limbo ‘nothing to do but scroll through Netflix’ period we’re all experiencing. The reality of paused productions has meant that the TV barrel is now running low, but Teenage Bounty Hunters at least suggests we’re nowhere near the bottom quite yet.