Friday, August 14, 2020

REVIEW: 'Teenage Bounty Hunters' - Sterling and Blair Land New Jobs After Running Into Bowser in 'Daddy's Truck'

Netflix's Teenage Bounty Hunters - Episode 1.01 "Daddy's Truck"

In need of money after damaging their dad's truck, Sterling and Blair team up with veteran bounty hunter Bowser to help capture a frenemy's father.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the series premiere of Netflix's Teenage Bounty Hunters.

"Daddy's Truck" was written by Kathleen Jordan and directed by Jesse Peretz

This comedy sets out to satirize the religious and privileged mostly by stating just how hypocritical they are as well as the numerous and severe crimes they commit. The depth with such observations doesn't extend far beyond noting that religious people are constantly talking about it and use it as a justification for whatever they want to do. Just because a person can quote the Bible doesn't mean they take the right lessons from it. This portrayal is all about the illusion of love and service to others while in reality the people are self-centered and performative. They want others to see them as loyal followers of the Lord. People who have profound faith. In reality, they are people who judge others severely whenever they mess up. It's a religion designed around looking down at others. It's seen as a competition for who can be the most devout. But it's also a world in which the main characters don't seem to struggle all that much. Sterling and Blair happen into the premise of a television show. They get into an accident with their father's truck. Based on how they are as drivers, it's insane that this is seemingly the first accident they've had. They understand that they have to pay for the repairs. Immediately, a solution is presented to them. They still earn half the money that Bowser gets for collecting on this bounty. They chase after the criminal and even have to shoot his tires out. That too is an insane image though. The show treats it as such commonplace that these girls know how to use guns and can use them in dangerous situations. The audience should naturally be concerned about their well being because of their ages. They present as having the maturity to make crucial decisions in their lives. And yet, that's a false front presented by so many teenagers. They believe they can handle the responsibilities that come from their decisions. In actuality though, the emotions that come afterwards are often a lot more difficult than they expected. Sterling has sex here. Blair champions it as a major moment in her sister's life. It's something that happened in the spur of the moment. Blair has been planning to make it happen for awhile now. She may be building it up as too much. She is practicing and hoping to be the best and most pleasurable. Meanwhile, Sterling believes that her connection is loving and perfect because she projects a sense of trust onto her boyfriend Luke. But she is also terrified that she has committed a sin. One that is equal to lying. As such, she is awkward and terrible at covering it up. And yet, it's also suppose to be believable that Sterling and Blair are working for Bowser as bounty hunters without their parents being aware at all. But again, that may be the privilege afforded to them. The wealthy and well-connected are still just as prone to making terrible mistakes. They just have the resources to avoid paying any severe consequences. That means April can always have a holier than thou attitude even though her father has been arrested for assault. She is oblivious to that fact and probably will defend him. These young minds are incredibly trusting. Sterling and Blair believe the stories being shared even when they are done so in a secret room proudly displaying a Confederate flag. They have sympathy for this man because they don't know any better. That's horrifying because they are given so much responsibility and freedom. They should understand the consequences that are always apparent in the world. Bowser has a different outlook on life. And yet, he sees the twins as a potential benefit for his business. It means having to pay them when he is already struggling to get by. They may not be the most observant either given their mother's picture hanging on his wall of bounties. All of this is complicated because the show absolutely presents Blair and Sterling as the entry point to this world who seem to be a bit more aware of the changing dynamics of society. And yet, it also has to be apparent that they have personal failings as a result of the community in which they have been raised. The tonal balance doesn't quite work. The satire doesn't hit hard enough. It feels like the show is hitting the same note over and over again. That may grow more complicated and nuanced as the season develops. It's hard to give the show the benefit of the doubt though given how wooden the dialogue is in this premiere. The sisterly bond is compelling and feels genuine. But the show either has to be more outrageous or more serious. It's stuck in a weird middle where the 45 minute run time feels more like a slog instead of having more precious time to better understand these characters.