REVIEW: ‘Teenage Bounty Hunters’ is a Hilarious Sister Comedy

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Teenage Bounty Hunters

Teenage Bounty Hunters Season 1 is a ten-episode comedy series on Netflix created and written by Kathleen Jordan. The show stars Anjelica Bette Fellini, Maddie Phillips, and Kadeem HardisonThe series focuses on teenage twins Blair and Sterling, students at a deeply Christian school in Atlanta, Georgia, and members of an upper-middle-class, conservative community. When on their way home from a midnight rendezvous with their boyfriends, they crash their father’s truck into a man on the run from a bounty hunter called Bowser. The sisters help recapture the criminal, resulting in them being employed by Bowser to gain money to repair their father’s damaged car. They must take on the responsibility of bond enforcement while balancing their lives of school, relationships, and their parents.

The plot is procedural in its nature, with each episode containing a case for the trio of crime fighters to solve. Running parallel to this is usually a situation within the school or the girls’ home lives that for the most part takes narrative precedent. Jordan’s script often presents the bounty hunting as secondary to their education and romance for most of the series, which is important as it allows for their career to start putting pressure on those things as the episodes proceed.

The pace of the episodes is maintained throughout as the series moves at a steady speed. The character arcs and sub-plots build slowly, given time to be festered by the characters and their decisions. But the audience never feels impatient, with enough hints given to keep them interesting. There aren’t many surprising reveals in each individual episode, but the direction relationships go in are shocking and a revelation that hits the teenagers close to home fractures everything about their family midway through the season.

The plot is interesting on its own, but itis absolutely carried by the wonderful characters that drive it. The two protagonists are amazingly realized in their dialogue and their performances. Both actresses give their roles great charm and power. Sterling, played by Phillips, has a very intense arc. She is intelligent and honest but also appears innocent at times in the first episodes. In the first episode, she is appointed as the Fellowship leader within the bible group at the school, destined for a path on the straight and narrow. The night before, she had begun having sex with her boyfriend, Luke, contravening what is taught in her education. This results in her attempting to keep it hidden from her classmates and parents. Her struggle to clarify the morality of herself and the community around her is investing to watch as she wrestles with her Christianity and her sexuality at the same time. Phillips is brilliant in the role, filling it with this fast-talking, wide-eyed energy that makes her so enjoyable to watch. When she makes a mistake, she starts panicking and babbling. There is a realism to Sterling, and she’s a great protagonist to follow.

Fellini plays Blaire, who is much louder, more outspoken, and much more confident than her twin. She seems to ignore much of the practices of her faith, desperate to journey into the world of sex. She listens to heavy rock and her lines drip with sarcasm. Blaire is much more likely to charge in with her gun blazing than her sister, or more eager to try the wilder forms of disguise to get a little bit closer to the target. The one part of her arc that I feel is missing is where she fits in within the school grounds. Sterling’s social life and how others view her is laid out from the first episode, down to what subjects she enjoys. But that isn’t present for Blaire, who will only appear to talk about Sterling’s day. Most of the fellowship don’t speak to her and there isn’t enough insight into what friends she has beyond her sister. Fellini enriches the character; every one of her jokes is delivered expertly. 

The two actresses are fantastic on-screen by themselves, but they are spectacular when together. The dialogue weaved by Jordan is full of fast punchlines and back and forths between both women and they bounce off of each other brilliantly. They talk exactly like teenagers do in terms of how fast they speak them and just the lines in general. This gifts the dialogue with an authentic tone. I have covered other series where characters don’t talk like teenagers and producers have casted actors that look closer to 30 than to 18,  but in Teenage Bounty Hunters Season 1 the young actors look like they belong in the correct age group.

Not only do Sterling and Blair sound like teenagers, but they also sound like sisters. The chemistry the actresses have made their exchanges infectious. They have been characterized so that they are so alike in many ways, how they decorate their rooms or the energy that radiates off of them when they get excited. But at the same time, they have their differences that compliment arguments and conflict. Their devotion to each other creates a heartwarming core to the series, also providing something to be tested and frayed. The connection is also represented through editing and camera shots. Frequently, there are close-ups of the two that cut away from the scene when one of them need help figuring out the right answer to a question or situation. The fish-eye lens used creates the illusion that this is done almost telepathically, as in other characters in the room may only see looks between the women instead of the conversation the audience is privy to.

Teenage Bounty Hunters

The Teenage Bounty Hunters are mentored by the gruff but lovable Bowser, played by Hardison. In order to cover for their secret, Bowser employs Blair and Sterling into his ice cream shop day job. Their relationship is antagonistic to begin with, as Bowser struggles with the intensity the sisters bring into every situation, but they quickly become close and develop a friendship. Bowser is given a detailed arc of his own as his protégés take it upon themselves to help him try to rebuild his life after a horrific breakup. The chemistry between the trio takes time to build, but once it is developed it leads to one of the most satisfying scenes in the show.

The comedy is delivered through the amazing dialogue, and it is shared around the whole cast. The laughs tend to come from the arguments and exchanges but there are also hilarious examples of slapstick. The chase scenes when the team are after a bounty are fun and alternate between humorous and badass. The dialogue feels natural while also clearly being twisted to fit in as many jokes as possible, always angling to end with a punchline.

Teenage Bounty Hunters is an incredibly funny series, but there are also small moments when it gets serious, and these scenes are also really well written. There are countless examples of important topics being used for comedic purposes, which is a fantastic method of exploring them, but the switch in tone highlights the quality of writing and acting within this series. Blair and her date Miles have an in-depth discussion on the destruction of statues in an episode that is unafraid to state multiple opinions. And the conversation Sterling has with her mother over the links between sexuality and morality is one of the most powerful in the series. 

There isn’t a criticism of God as a figure of worship within the show, but there is debate on the way Christianity is practiced and used to dictate behaviour. The contradictions within the Bible are considered, particularly regarding how someone is viewed within their own communities if they don’t abide by the rules of a person’s interpretation of the Bible. These themes and conversations don’t weigh down the tone of the series, but I have always felt that the best dramatic scenes are found within comedies, and this one is no exception.

Teenage Bounty Hunters Season 1 is a hilarious comedy that also serves as a beautiful story about sisters. Jordan’s scripts are incredible, filled with a wonderful mixture of wit and drama. Both of the protagonists feel real and are performed exceptionally by Phillips and Fellini. The show is really well-shot and features an awesome soundtrack. I really do think this could be an important story for young women to find, as they may find themselves latching on to the brilliant characters and their experiences may resonate through them. 

Teenage Bounty Hunters Season 1 is now on Netflix.


Teenage Bounty Hunters
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    Rating - 8/10
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TL;DR

Teenage Bounty Hunters Season 1 is a hilarious comedy that also serves as a beautiful story about sisters. Jordan’s scripts are incredible, filled with a wonderful mixture of wit and drama. Both of the protagonists feel real and are performed exceptionally by Phillips and Fellini. The show is really well-shot and features an awesome soundtrack. I really do think this could be an important story for young women to find, as they may find themselves latching on to the brilliant characters and their experiences may resonate through them.