September 9, 2020

“Teenage Bounty Hunters” Review: (Semi) Wholesome Fun, Grounded in Realism, Filled with Surprises

After a fun fantasy binge, I was in the mood to watch something a little more…grounded. Something down-to-earth, something that was fun, practical, and easy to understand.

So, I picked a show that was brand-new to Netflix. And it turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve recently made.

Teenage Bounty Hunters has the premise summed up right in its title. The bounty hunters in question are fraternal twins Sterling (Maddie Phillips) and Blair Wesley (Anjelica Bette Fellini), who take a job with more experienced hunter Bowser (Kadeem Hardison) in order to pay for the damage they do to their father’s truck.

A simple premise? Definitely. But it’s one that lends itself to a crazy amount of hijinks and fun adventures — some self-contained, and some connecting to a mysterious overarching storyline.

Teenage Bounty Hunters is a rare gem of a show: it’s about growing up, but it’s not about any kind of growing up that you might think, with the leads being white, upper-class teenage girls. Their family’s wealth and status in their orthodox Christian community is worked into the show in clever and interesting ways, but it doesn’t define who the characters are. In fact, if they were from any other kind of family, I’m sure the characters wouldn’t change much. Instead, the show chooses to shy away from typical social commentary to instead focus on other aspects of juvenescence: being curious about your parents’ young lives, concealing relationships, and separating yourself from your family’s religion.

Now, of course, those aren’t universal experiences, but what Teenage Bounty Hunters does best is making all of that feel natural. Whatever these characters do is true to their natures and personalities, and nothing really feels out of place. When something goes wrong, the calamity adheres to what was previously established and works story-wise.

So yes, I got what I was looking for out of this show. But it’s not something to half-watch; no, Teenage Bounty Hunters deserves your full attention, not only because of its ongoing intrigue, but because it’s constantly surprising you, and introducing new variables into what you may have thought was a run-of-the-mill teen drama.

However, the real gold of the show comes in the chemistry of the leads, especially Blair and Sterling. When I rewatched it with my family, my brother asked me if they were actually sisters — that’s how believable they are. It’s absurdly fun just to watch these two bounce off of each other, and communicate with twin-specific telepathy. Teenage Bounty Hunters is always at its best when the titular characters are together on-screen.

Of course, the supporting cast are highly entertaining as well. Spencer House delights as Sterling’s bumbling boyfriend Luke, Devon Hales is deliciously scathing as mean girl April, and Wynn Everett never fails to bring the laughs as beloved and overenthusiastic fellowship teacher Ellen, among others. There are too many to mention by name, but the series may be worth it for the cast alone.

Sometimes it seems like a cliché teen drama, and the premise is occasionally worn a little thin — but Teenage Bounty Hunters always comes around, and for that I believe it deserves a watch. Filled with laugh-out-loud moments, with some genuinely touching moments, this show is one that shouldn’t fly under your radar. [Grade: A+]

Showrunner: Kathleen Jordan
Starring: Maddie Phillips, Anjelica Bette Fellini, Kadeem Hardison, Devon Hales, Virginia Williams
Rated: TV-MA (violence, sex, language)
Available: Netflix
Fun Fact: 
The actresses playing twins Blair and Sterling are the same age in real life -- they are both 25-year-olds playing 16.

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