Hi everyone, but especially the ladies! How are you feeling? Just so great and chill and optimistic about the reality of the world we live in? Just like, super safe? All the time? Well, here’s a balm: MTV’s newest scripted offer, “Sweet/Vicious” — the female-driven, buddy action/comedy vigilante story launching Nov. 15 after “Teen Wolf’s” final season premiere.
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Jules (Eliza Bennett) and Ophelia (Taylor Dearden), the two vigilante lady buds at the center of Jennifer Kaytin Robinson’s first series, are the most 2016 of odd couples: A sweet, sober, ass-kicking sorority sister and a crude, moorless, genius-hacker stoner, who team up after a series of absurdly lucky coincidences as literal social justice warriors, taking on the creeps of fictional Darlington University with matching masks and switchblades when the structures that should be providing legitimate protection prove too weak to defend the vulnerable, time and time again.
There’s also a murder mystery subplot (with a twist), and enough complex, compassionate friendship drama that one could almost forgive MTV for sending Amy and Karma off into the sunset this past summer, and preparing Scott and Stiles to follow shortly.
“Sweet/Vicious” was originally ordered as a half-hour comedy to replace the programming holes left behind by “Awkward” and “Faking It “– and it is truly, keenly funny. The sharpness of Taylor Dearden’s blank-eyed genius-stoner line delivery, as Ophelia interacts with a world that can’t figure out what to make of her, and Eliza Bennett’s commitment to every gosh darnit! and rats! out of Jules’ mouth at the least reasonable of moments, are both constantly surprising and delightful; the tiny, fumbling goof-ups they each have in the midst of their various beatdowns will induce cackling.
The root of Jules’ and Ophelia’s crusade, however — the unchecked violation of the vulnerable on their campus by those in positions of prestige or privilege — is grim, firmly grounded in reality, and completely earns the full hour-length treatment the show has now.
“Sweet/Vicious” isn’t perfect. Many of the elements in the pilot that set up Ophelia’s situation in particular, are cliches, and don’t end up carrying through to future episodes. There is a whole thing with not one but two Buster Keaton films playing on the televisions at the diviest of dive bars, with not one word of explanation. And yes, Jules’ and Ophelia’s skillsets, and their successes employing them, are somewhat beyond the pale…
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But no more beyond the pale than the fact that so many marginalized people suffer sexual violence from so many unchecked quarters so much of the time. No more beyond the pale than the last year+ of life IRL we collectively held our breath through. When Jules swaps her bubblegum cashmere sweater for her all-black vigilante costume, and stalks after dudes twice her size, when Ophelia manipulates the world, real and cyber, into giving her the space to uncover the cover-ups and turn predators to prey — it is a window opening, even just a crack.
“Sweet/Vicious” airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on MTV. The first three episodes are available on the MTV app — which you’ll be glad to know, when the final scene of the pilot lands.