TV: Teenage Bounty Hunters (Season 1)

Created by Kathleen Jordan, Teenage Bounty Hunters has an outlandish but appealing premise. It’s about twins in a southern religious family, Sterling (Maddie Phillips) and Blair (Anjelica Bette Fellini), whose subdued Christian rebellion thrusts them unexpectedly into the adventurous world of skip-tracing. When they accidentally crash their car into a vehicle driven by a wanted fugitive, they end up aiding bounty hunter Bowser Simmons (Kadeem Hardison) with the collar. Bowser ends up hiring them, outwardly as clerks at his frozen yogurt franchise, but secretly as proteges in his after-hours bounty-hunting business. As it turns out, Sterling and Blair have useful connections in white Republican Georgia, even if their coming-of-age teenage dramas sometimes interfere with their focus on the job. But when their newfound crime-enforcement skills point toward an unexpected mystery within their own family, the girls end up juggling personal problems and family issues with their incongruous, dangerous new profession.

I wasn’t initially aware of Jenji Kohan’s involvement in Teenaged Bounty Hunters, but once that connection was made it seemed an obvious fit; the show is covered in her stylistic fingerprints. There’s a similar snarky, perverse sense of humor, and similar uninhibited lurches into boundary-pushing topics. But there’s also a refreshing sweetness to the show, a winning teen rebellion coming-of-age tale, as Sterling and Blair question their upbringing and pursue new paths. Phillips and Fellini are terrific as the effervescent twins, and there’s an immediate, winning rapport between them and Hardison, who is brilliantly funny as he gradually becomes something of an alternative father figure for them. It does a fine job leveraging it unusual milieu toward the examination of right and wrong, and societal expectations. The final episode propels the series even further into unrealistic plot territory than the earlier ones, but it all kind of works in the playful, heightened-reality way of something like Jane the Virgin or Veronica Mars. An agreeable, heartfelt, and funny series.

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