What ‘Teenage Bounty Hunters’ Gets Wrong About Growing Up in the South

Leah Marilla Thomas
·4 mins read
Photo credit: TINA ROWDEN/NETFLIX - Netflix
Photo credit: TINA ROWDEN/NETFLIX - Netflix

From Cosmopolitan

When “Strawberry Wine” by The Chicks started playing in the first episode of Teenage Bounty Hunters, I was transported right back to my own adolescence in the American South. But while the show’s polo shirts are poppin’ and its sex education is accurately lacking, the Netflix satire does make a few mistakes when it comes to Girls Raised In The South, aka GRITS. I moved to North Carolina from New England when I was 7 years old. So I was only raised in the South, not born there, but that makes me uniquely qualified to spot mistakes non-Southerners make because I made them all and got teased for them in school. I had to earn the right to say “y’all,” y’all.

Showrunner Kathleen Jordan based Teenage Bounty Hunters on her own high school experiences in Georgia, but some things slipped through the cracks. Hey, we’re all human, but I’m still gonna poke a little bit of fun (with love).

Sterling and Blair never got BBQ, not even once

Pork, please! Sterling and Blair only step inside a BBQ restaurant once in season 1 and it’s when they’re far from home. I call shenanigans. Also, while I’m being snooty, the sign at Hobo’s Ham (the BBQ in question) says “hickory cooked” when it should be “hickory smoked.” What is this, amateur hour?

Blair said “Appa-laysh-un” Mountains

Pronouncing the Appalachian Mountains/Trail incorrectly is right up there with Louisville, Kentucky, as a quirk that, if you eff up, immediately identifies you as an outsider. How did nobody on-set catch this? For future reference: Pretend the word “latch” is in the middle and you’ll be all set.

Bowser called ice-cream sprinkles “jimmies”

I truly had to rewind Netflix because when I heard this, it was that surreal. It’s not a nitpick—it’s just flat-out wrong. “Jimmies” is a regional phrase local to Boston/New England and Philadelphia. As a former New Englander myself, I dropped “jimmies” from my vernacular at the same time I stopped saying it was “wicked hot” outside.

Photo credit: Netflix
Photo credit: Netflix

They held a memorial service for an agnostic teacher

Now, I went to public school, not a private Christian school like Blair and Sterling, so the accuracy of that environment is not my strong suit. However, I dodged questions about what church my family went to (we didn’t) from second grade to college because of how people around town talked in hushed, pitying tones about those who had not accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior. There’s no way the kids would have just brushed off rumors that their former substitute teacher was agnostic. That’s downright scandalous!

I do, however, think it’s good that Teenage Bounty Hunters labels some stereotypes associated with Southern Baptists and Evangelical Christians, like snake handling and burning down abortion clinics, as extremist activities and not the Bible Belt norm.

They were ignorant about Confederate statues

Overall, I think the way Teenage Bounty Hunters takes cracks at systemic racism and conservative values offers a variety of perspectives and is responsible—although it is meant to be satirical, and your mileage may vary as to how much satire you can handle without getting annoyed with Blair and Sterling’s privilege.

But it just doesn’t make sense that Blair would innocently quip, “How many Confederate statues can there be in Atlanta?” and then moments later reveal that her own father is a member of a Confederate Historical Society and runs a Civil War reenactment league. Even if she doesn’t agree with it, she’s clearly not that oblivious to the culture she was raised in. It felt like someone on the writing staff who didn’t grow up in the South had momentarily dropped in on the conversation. It doesn’t track.

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