It’s been fourteen years since Buffy the Vampire Slayer went off the air. Many shows have attempted to fill the void left by the Scoobies, but none have succeeded.
A joint project between the creators of Misfits (an essential watch for fans of the superhero genre) and Netflix, Crazyhead became available for streaming in the U.S. on December 16th, 2016, and it’s a crime that I didn’t watch it until last week.
I hardly know where to begin with the premise of this show. The show starts normal enough. It opens on your run-of-the-mill kidnapping with a girl being dragged out of the trunk of a car by two psychos wearing clown masks. But that’s when it gets weird. Really, really weird.
After a narrative time hop, the audience is then introduced to Amy, a twenty-something who works in a bowling alley and has recently discovered that she is a “seer”: someone who can see the true faces of demons. Amy enjoys a fairly normal, if somewhat underachieving life, so being roped into a world where dark spirits exist doesn’t sit well with her. During her first demon encounter, Amy is saved by Raquel, another seer and self-proclaimed demon hunter. Remember that girl in school who sat by herself but who always made really loud and uncomfortable proclamations to the rest of the class? That’s Raquel.
This unwanted, mystical sight binds the fate of both of these girls however reluctant (Amy) or enthusiastic (Raquel) they are. Despite the fact that they are not equipped for it, they have to protect themselves, each other, and their oblivious loved ones from the forces of darkness. It’s so freaking awesome to watch them go on this journey together, because the world of fiction is saturated with stories of people who are thrown into world-upending situations and easily adjust to their new life of wielding magic or wrestling monsters. Amy and Raquel constantly react in a way that reminds the audience that no, fighting for your life against demons isn’t even in the near vicinity of normal and we are never, ever going to get used to this.
Even if Buffy and the Scoobies were terrible at maintaining personal relationships, they were still adept at kicking demon ass. Amy and Raquel are proficient at neither. They suck as demon hunters and as human beings. Raquel has spent her whole life desperately searching for someone to understand her and be her friend. When she finds Amy, Raquel does everything she can to keep her around. However, since she’s never had a friend, she attempts to do this by pinching Amy, asking her invasive questions, and insulting her. Amy’s not much better off. She has friends, sure, but she often treats her friends’ issues as inconsequential. She’s also fairly close-minded to anything that falls out of what she perceives to be normal or cool (i.e. demons or Raquel, respectively).
In a way, it’s very comforting. These girls are not superheros. They’re not role models. Yet, they manage the impossible scenarios that are thrown their way. They’ll scream and flail their way through it, but you know they’ll get the job done. They don’t have the luxury of knowledge being passed down to them like the Winchester brothers or a family spellbook like the Halliwell sisters. Instead they rely on search engines and half-researched information to navigate this new world. This is a demon hunter show the speaks to this decade and those struggling to find themselves in it.
As an extra layer of complexity, the show uses seeing demons to talk about mental illness in an intelligent and subtle way. Both protagonists see a therapist for their mental health issues, but neither girl is labeled “crazy” or talked down to in any way due to their mental illness. It should be noted, however, that the therapist (played by Doctor Who’s Vincent Van Gogh, Tony Curran) is super shady, and the girls become less reliant on professional help as the show continues. It does seem a little hypocritical for a show to talk about mental illness plainly but then crap all over the profession that treats it. Not a ton of positive representations of mental illness exist, however, so I choose to celebrate this show for what it’s doing right in that area versus what it’s not.
I highly recommend that you check this show out for its humor, its well-written characters, and its intrigue. If this wasn’t enough of a taste, check out the trailer below (NSFW due to language):
Drop your reactions to these two badass girls in the comments section!