Heathers (1989) — The Pseudo-Rom Com That Conflates Love & Violence

Nadia Carmon
3 min readAug 29, 2021

At a time when we’ve been confronted with the everyday reality of violence, growing steadily at an exponential pace, my rewatch of the 1989 Dark Comedy Heathers struck a different chord than it did the first time I watched it.

Back then I was as a freshman in college.

At the time, the social commentary didn’t quite seep into my consciousness as much as its cool factor — a blend of high school tropes, melding into a highly volatile mix of personal values and egoism.

I knew it was dark.

But I didn’t read between the lines beyond that. I know, total reading comp fail.

But watching it again I realize there’s so much to unpack — From the way it anticipates a wave of sporadic gun violence on a mass scale, depicts both teens and adults mindlessly treating suicide and death as a currency for entertainment (enter: Social Media), and vocalizes the angsty struggles of teens in finding self-acceptance in ways that are undeniably hilarious yet unmistakably sad at the same time.

It’s a timelessly relevant social critique that amplifies many of the things we’ve gotten wrong as a society, and the mistakes we keep making.

A farce of a never-ending, vicious cycle.

Light spoilers ahead.

Bad Romance

The relationship between Veronica (Winona Ryder) and J.D. (Christian Slater) is perhaps most interesting because it’s destructive in a way that’s far removed from what most would consider to be healthy. Yet a considerable amount of effort went into making them look like sexy rebels.

At its heart, Heathers is about an abusive boyfriend who uses gas lighting as the fuse to keep the love between himself and his girlfriend alive.

Defined by Vox, gaslighting is

“the act of undermining another person’s reality by denying facts, the environment around them, or their feelings. Targets of gaslighting are manipulated into turning against their cognition, their emotions, and who they



Nadia Carmon

Austin Film Festival Screenplay Competition 2nd Rounder ◌ Script Analyst at Coverfly ◌ Freelance Writer ◌ Black Magic Woman www.nadiacarmon.com