If “Scream Queens” and “Awkward” had a baby, it’d be Netflix’s new limited series “Boo, Bitch.” Starring and executive produced by Lana Condor (“To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before,” “Moonshot”), the series’ six episodes follow Erika Vu and her BFF Gia (Zoe Colletti) as they try to make the most of their last days of high school — that is until one of them dies!
One unspoken-but-harped-upon rule in many Asian cultures is to not tempt death. I myself can’t count how many times I’ve used the expression, “I’m dying.” Erika takes this to a whole new level; I can’t/didn’t count how many times she used the slang in the first episode. After talking to her crush, one of the many Jakes, she exclaims, “I’m dying. I’m dead. I’m a ghost.” As fate would have it, the next morning, Gia and Erika find her shoes attached to a body under a dead moose — just maybe Erika should have heeded those Asian warnings about courting death.
Erika is not like other ghosts, however. Although she has some new powers, she is still seen by others and can manipulate physical objects. (A hilarious scene from the trailer has her running into a glass door.) The rest of the series follows Erika as she tries to carry out her unfinished business (or UFB) tying her to the earthly realm.
“What originally caught my eye years ago, was that I got this script through my agent from a friend of his. He was like, ‘Hey, I have these two kids [Tim Schauer and Kuba Soltysiak]. They just graduated from [University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts], and they wrote a script for Lana,’” says Condor in an exclusive interview with Mochi. “I was, of course, very flattered. But I was also like, ‘You got to open the door for someone, right? You get into this industry in all different, weird sort of ways.’”
Three years later, “Boo, Bitch” was born. In addition to Schauer and Soltysiak, Erin Ehrlich (“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” “Awkward”) and Lauren Iungerich (“Awkward”) serve as showrunners and EPs. Condor serves as executive producer for the first time.
Condor shares, “Representation was so important on our show. That was another reason why producing was a thrill, because I wanted an incredibly diverse cast, and I wanted it to be female-led in front of and behind the camera. That was so, so important to me.”
Filling out the cast is Mason Versaw (Jake C.), Tenzing Norgay Trainor (Gavin), and Jason Genao (Devon). Aparna Brielle (“AP Bio”) plays Riley, Erika’s lifelong bully and high school Queen Bee.
Brielle shares that being cast was surreal: “I don’t think any of us really often saw Asian women or Asian girls as the popular girl. More often than not, it was like a stereotypical nerdy role. So for me, when I was cast in the first place, it was a pretty emotional moment for me, because Riley wasn’t written as any particular race. In fact, she was written as white, but they were kind of open to interpretation. And to know that, to know that girls can see that the popular girl can be a South Asian woman, I think it’s really special.”
Erika also shifts stereotypes as she evolves from a sentimental, sweet Lara Jean Covey type to — Condor’s exact words — “a horrible person.” Death somehow brings about a radical confidence in her, and Erika goes from “Erika who?” to Bad Bitch Erika.
“She might be a little bit of a shock to the community, because that’s not necessarily how we are portrayed often in the media,” Condor acknowledges. “Even though Erika is pretty gnarly at some points, it’s important to show range and that we are not just one thing, right? Like, we as a community are so much more than just one box.”
For Asian American viewers, pre-bitch Erika offers a feeling that many of us may have had in high school: that of being invisible. On the other hand, Bad Bitch Erika brings fashion, confidence, and attitude, finally thriving and growing out of her shell in search of her UFB. The limited series touches on friendship, betrayal, and popularity — although the plot twist is not totally unforeseen — but most of all, adds a new portrayal of high school life to the mix with goth kids, friend groups with romantic dynamics, pizza Jesus, and Jakes who watch “The Bachelor.”
“I really hope people can see all the different versions of Asian Americans that there are out there,” Brielle said to Mochi Mag. “We’re not all one trope. We’re paving the path with shows like this, where we really are trying to look out for each other and to know that there’s a world out there where other Asian Americans are looking out for them, too.”
With plenty of high school parties, hookups, and drama, the series is silly and totally binge-worthy. Laughs aside, “Boo, Bitch” may even offer a bit of social commentary: My favorite character is Alyssa (played by Alyssa Jirrel), a teenage mom who goes to school and parties while juggling her newborn. Irresponsible? Maybe. Incapable? Not at all.
What is Condor’s favorite part of the series? The Vu family. She explains, “I’m flipping my mom off, and mom is flipping me off, and my dad is being a weirdo. That’s another kind of thing that we need to squash, because not all Asian American families are the same. Showing a Vietnamese family that’s, like, crude and crazy, but so loving, that’s exciting too, because maybe you’ll be able to see parts of your family in ours.”
Cover photo: Erik Voake/Netflix
Last modified: July 4, 2022