A show with a title like Teenage Bounty Hunters can go wrong in so many ways. It's the kind of thing you might find at your local video rental in the 80s or 90s with lurid, exploitation-style artwork. Fortunately, instead of some gross dudes producing and making this show, it's Jenji Kohan executive producing, her first new show for Netflix since the end of Orange Is the New Black with a pilot script by creator Kathleen Jordan.
Sterling (Maddie Philips) and Blair (Anjelica Bette Fellini) Wesley are sheltered upper-middle-class twins who go to a Christian private school in deeply Republican Georgia… who fall into bounty hunting outside of school. When they're not hunting bail-jumpers, they're eager to explore sex and the limits of social barriers. Their (very) reluctant boss Bowser (Kadeem Hardison) runs his bounty hunting business out of the ice cream franchise store he owns and curses being saddled with two ditzy white teenagers who happen to be very good at this job. They act like Nancy Drews in a YA novel but run around in an R-rated world. Blair is the self-proclaimed "slut' and rebel with an edge whose bark is really worse than her bite. Sterling is the one who tries harder to be the good girl but starts having sex first with her boyfriend and turns out to be the more decisive and ruthless of the two.
This being a Jenji Kohan joint, you know what you're in for: wry, deadpan but chirpy satire lampooning religious repression, conservatism, zealotry with cheerful heroines too blissfully ignorant to be truly hurt or outraged by any of it. Kohan heroines usually have White Girl Armor, which is a blessing and a curse and the source of endless jokes. These were in Weeds, Orange Is the New Black, and the short-lived American Princess. Feminism and sex-positivity figure high in the series, as do themes of racial justice. Blair gets a crash course in the latter when she starts actually meeting black people and even starts dating one. Bowser, living a life of disappointment, quiet desperation, and a serious midlife crisis, is secretly rejuvenated by having these two nutty kids who are actually better at sleuthing out perps than he is.
The show shouldn't work but it does due to the sparkling writing and the chemistry between the actors. Philips and Fellini have that rare chemistry that has them bouncing off each other constantly and hilariously, and Hardison's deadpan weariness adds the third part of the equation. The show treads the line between a network procedural and a Netflix serial. It's that rare Netflix show about teenage heroines that's not about another Chosen One with superpowers nor feels like it was created by an algorithm. And it's loads of fun.