According to Deadline.com, ABC Family may be producing a series called The Final Girls based on the horror movie trope of the same name. The project hasn’t yet been picked up for a pilot, but so far director Steve Miner is attached to the project, and so is one of the most famous final girls: Jamie Lee Curtis of the original Halloween franchise.
As the name implies, “final girl” refers to the last girl left alive at the end of a horror movie. I’ve talked about the role before, primarily in my discussion of the series that I feel does the best work with them, A Nightmare on Elm Street, so I don’t think I need to discuss the trope itself too much. What I plan to do today is speculate on what this new series may become and how excited I am for it.
According to the Deadline article, the show will star Curtis as the guiding force who assembles a team of “final girls”, women who have survived their own personal horror stories, in order to “channel the stress and scars of their experience for some greater good.” Now, this is a very open-ended premise and there are a lot of ways it could play out, which has me more than a little intrigued.
For starters, what does the phrase “personal horror stories” entail? Are these women who have been in horror movie-style life-or-death situations, like the girls for whom the trope is named? Or perhaps, will these personal horror stories be emotional ones, like survivors of abuse? I don’t know, and I don’t know which would be better, to be honest. On the one hand, I love horror, and a show based in the genre would be right up my alley. On the other hand, a show that deals with more realistic problems and characters who overcome them to make a difference in their world could be very rewarding.
However, both concepts have their pitfalls.
A horror-based show is tough to sustain, and while we can look at Supernatural as one of the greatest successes in this genre, it also illustrates the problems such a show can face in the long run. Raising the stakes and scares season after season is hard to do and can result in some awfully contrived stories. Furthermore, being part of a genre in which women and characters of color aren’t usually active, respected characters makes it easy for the writers to disregard them without really thinking seriously about it. This show being female-led should help it in the representation of women, at least, but the other issues will require extra care by the creative staff.
A show which deals with emotional scars and the women who bear them has a very rich concept and great potential for story and character arcs, but will require even more effort from the creative staff to pull off properly. It’s so common for serious issues like physical or emotional abuse to be trivialized in entertainment as a quick plot device to create sympathetic, broken characters and I definitely don’t want to see that happen with this series.
Hopefully, whatever direction this show takes, it will be a well-written success. I have been pretty pleased with ABC Family’s character-driven programming of late with shows like Switched at Birth and The Fosters, so hopefully if this show is picked up, it will be another piece with thoughtful development.