HBO’s latest teen-focused drama follows two delightful characters in Astrid and Lilly Save the World. These two plus-sized heroes are perfect headliners for a fantastical high school adventure. The monster-killing, alien fighting genres have so much potential to be entertaining, and Astrid and Lilly Save the World is taking its chance to break into the genre.
In the style of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Astrid and Lilly Save the World follows titular characters, high schoolers Astrid (Jana Morrison) and Lilly (Samantha Aucoin). As someone who missed the Buffy train, I was unsure of what to expect in a series about lovable yet imperfect heroes who balance fighting the paranormal and extraterrestrial with fighting through the unique hell that is high school.
From the start, Astrid and Lilly are so clearly far from perfect. They recognize how wrong they are to continue spying on their popular classmates. It’s a violation of so many things, and yet they continue to do it anyway. However, they’re so refreshingly relatable, and the focus on their friendship is nothing less than delightful. It’s such a wonderful change of pace to have a show focus on the joy and depth of female friendships, particularly in a high school setting. It’s not that whirlwind, chaotic romances aren’t a part of the high school experience. Rather, friendships are so fundamental to survival in this chaotic setting, and it’s always lovely to have these relationships take the spotlight.
The first monster for our heroes to face (as it seems we will get a new one each week), was one who lived off of human tears. There’s a feminist message buried in here somewhere, having male tears be the sustenance of all life. Unfortunately, a poor allergy sufferer also got co-opted into providing her excess eye secretions. As a fellow sufferer of seasonal allergies, the pain was all too real.
The first monster for our heroes to face (as it seems we will get a new one each week), was one who lived off of human tears. There’s a feminist message buried in here somewhere, having male tears be the sustenance of all life. Unfortunately, a poor allergy sufferer also got co-opted into providing her excess eye secretions. As a fellow sufferer of seasonal allergies, the pain was all too real. To help guide our heroes is Brutus (Olivier Renaud), who we barely got to know in this episode. He has his horn and quirky sense of humor, which will hopefully prove enough for him to be an effective mentor.
As relatable as this series is clearly trying to be, there were certain elements that left much to be desired. In particular, the use of language was cringe of the worst kind at times. Using acronyms that absolutely no one uses completely derailed the story at the moment. This is the problem that so many teen-centered shows fall into. By trying too hard to be “relatable” they end up being parodies of themselves and distracting from the story they are trying to tell. This show is at its strongest when it focuses on the characters themselves, and what makes them special.
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the talented Geri Hall, an absolutely perfect addition to this cast. The Little Mosque on the Prairie alumna is perfectly cast a mother in the throes of religious extremism. This is the character most susceptible to being taken over by alien monster invaders. Seriously, her role in the Little Mosque on the Prairie episode ‘Holly Go Quickly’ is proof that she can handle the role of a middle-aged woman who found religion and took it way too far.
Astrid and Lilly Save the World is off to a strong start. While it clearly isn’t a total package, there is a lot of potential here. In an industry that only allows women and girls to look a certain way, it’s great to see plus-sized actors given starring roles. Hopefully, the show will be able to strike a balance between the fantastical stakes it has set up, with the gritty reality of being a young adult trapped in high school. This is where the show’s strength is, and where viewers are likely to derive the most entertainment.
New episodes of Astrid and Lilly Save the World air Wednesdays on Crave.