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Why the TV industry is obsessed with reboots: The Powerpuff Girls, Clueless, and Lizzie McGuire in 2020

Why the TV industry is obsessed with reboots: The Powerpuff Girls, Clueless, and Lizzie McGuire in 2020

Thank u, next

Text: Emily Heng


Prolific author, Stephen King, once declared that everything old is new again. This is corroborated by the resurgence of scarf tops and tie-dye in fashion; the collective reverence for French manis and chunky highlights amongst the beauty community; and the revival of classic gaming consoles from the tech sector. Bearing this in mind, it stands to reason that your next thought would be — well, what of the entertainment industry? The answer proves glaringly clear: reboots, remakes, and rip-offs re-dos.

But I digress. Historically, the dictionary defines a reboot as a fresh start; or the act of making a change in order to create a new beginning. Its meaning doesn't differ much in a pop cultural context, where it often refers to a new take of an established fictional universe. Primarily, this translates to the revamping of certain storylines, characters, and backstories. You know the drill: Queer Eye retains its makeover concept with an all-new cast; Archie Comics is now a dark murder-mystery; while The Baby-Sitters Club preserves its heartfelt narrative when facing modern-day issues revolving gender, discrimination, and inequality.

The appeal of a reboot is plain to see. Creatives get to capitalise on existing — and most, likely, well-loved — intellectual property, while fans get to revisit much-cherished worlds and stories. When done right, both producer and user get to reap a bounty of benefits. Alas, it's a tricky balance to master; a constant debate of when to stay true to original source material or diverge into uncharted territory. In fact, these days, it feels as if reboots are veering entirely off-course, going from a celebration of renowned works to being entirely, well, ludicrous in concept and plotting.

Will showbiz wise up and cease exploiting the same old, tired content? Only time will in tell. For now, here's a roundup of the most disastrous, dreadful, and downright bizarre TV remakes hitting our favourite streaming platforms. Don't say we didn't warn ya.

The Powerpuff Girls

We smell sugar, spice, and, uh, a serious stretch on the part of the CW. Yes, that's the television network responsible for reboot hits in the vein of Riverdale, Charmed, and Batwoman. The live-action, crime-fighting series is supposedly in development, and will once again follow Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup on their new adventures. Except, oh wait, a twist! "Now they're disillusioned 20-somethings who resent having lost their childhood to crime fighting," the show's tagline reads. "Will they agree to reunite now that the world needs them more than ever?" So, PPG but... gritty? Having already witnessed my childhood comic book favourites get dismembered, drugged, and decapitated on Riverdale, I think I'm going to have to politely decline.

 

Clueless

This time with Cher's sidekick, Dionne, as the lead. It will be available on NBCUniversal's streaming platform, Peacock, sometime soon, though I can't say I'm too excited after getting wind of the show's synopsis. Feast your eyes upon this: "a baby pink and bisexual blue-tinted, tiny sun-glasses wearing, oat milk latte and Adderall-fueled look at what happens when queen bee Cher disappears and her lifelong No. 2 Dionne steps into Cher's vacant Air Jordans. How does Dionne deal with the pressures of being the new most popular girl in school, while also unraveling the mystery of what happened to her best friend?" Did anyone... did anyone understand that? Did anyone get that? No? Yeah, that's what I thought.

 

Lizzie McGuire

Don't get me wrong: I'd love to see a modern-day Lizzie. The beloved Disney franchise definitely has potential for expansion, especially now that it takes place in an all-new setting with a thirty-something McGuire. However, what concerns me is the creative differences between lead actress, Duff, and Disney+ — with the streaming platform halting all work on the reboot due to concerns over "too-adult themes." Eek. It seems, however, that not all hope is lost. Duff recently spoke to Cosmpolitan to confirm that it's "back to the drawing board" with Disney "to come up with something that works for all of us." Fingers crossed that they'll come up with a happy middle not too contrived...?

 

Avatar: The Last Airbender

Much as with Lizzie, my worries about this production stem from the announcement that the original creators of the animated series, Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, have opted to leave the show's development team. DiMartino took to Instagram to break the news, revealing that "whatever version ends up on-screen, it will not be what Bryan and I had envisioned or intended to make." Uh, how ominous. To make things worse, he then went on to add, "Netflix said that it was committed to honoring our vision for this retelling and to supporting us on creating the series. Unfortunately, things did not go as we had hoped." None of this sounds promising, but hey, it's likely that I'm just jumping to conclusions.

 

Nancy Drew

The series quietly launched late last year to minimal fanfare. And for good reason, we suppose. As with Riverdale, the show tries too hard to be edgy, stripping away the optimism and buoyancy of the original novels in an effort to be "alternative." Nancy is hardened, aloof, and a far cry from the intelligent, savvy detective we all know and love, there are supernatural elements thrown in the mix, and Ned Nickerson (ah, the alliteration of it all) now goes by the much more boring... Nick. It's a no from me, folks.


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