80s black comedy Heathers is getting the TV reboot treatment, and in the forthcoming TV Land iteration, the cheerleader-like sameness of the original clique will be replaced by a diverse set of ruthless neo-Heathers: zaftig, body positive ringleader Heather Chandler flanked by black lesbian Heather McNamara and gender-queer Heather Duke, the latter played by Hollywood newcomer Brendan Scannell. And while the character’s identity nowadays may be more fluid (in the remake Duke’s given name is “Heath” and uses both “he” and “she” pronouns) Scannell says Duke, originated by Shannen Doherty, is no more politically correct.
“One of my favorite parts of the show is when Heather Duke creates a Nancy Grace, Sean Hannity-style morning talk show on school television,” says Scannell. “She uses it to just like destroy everyone in the school.”
And while such tactics may seem at odds with the perception of today’s teens as a fragile, hyper-empathetic species, Scannell, a standup comedian by trade, was excited to play a non-conforming villain. “What I really liked was playing a character who is young and queer but isn’t set up as some sort of perfect being,” Scannell says of the show’s alternative treatment of queer youth – which, he adds, may offer a counterweight to the obligatory sitcom-style gay characters and romantic subplots flooding post-woke TV. “It’s a really dark show,” says Scannell. “I think people are going to be shocked by it, and that’s pretty exciting. There are parts of the show that don’t feel safe and that’s pretty cool to be a part of as an artist.”
As an L.A.-based comedian auditioning and subsisting on commercial work this time last year, the Indiana-born actor never imagined his first big gig would be so culturally significant. “I did Snapple ads, Pepsi ads. I had sort of resigned myself to being the next Flo from the Progressive commercials,” he says. But his luck changed when Heathers’s creator spotted Scannell at a party. “I auditioned pretty late so I wasn’t really aware of the development process or anything, and then a week later it became my life.”
And despite his character’s flaws, Scannell believes this Heather will ultimately do more good than harm. “Being a young queer artist, there just aren’t roles out there that are written to be feminine or in that non-binary space,” he says. “I feel really fortunate to be part of the pastiche of gender non-conforming characters and I wasn’t expecting that with my first job.”
Scannell is also a relative newcomer to his Los Angeles neighborhood of Silverlake, where, he says, a real-life crop of non-conforming artists is sprouting. “I just met Tommy Dorfman like six weeks ago because he just moved from New York to Silverlake, right near me,” he says. “We just kind of hit it off.” When Scannell isn’t hobnobbing with the LBGT glitterati, here’s where you’ll find him.
Cup of Joe: This is truly so embarrassing, but I have to say the 365 by Whole Foods because it has Bulletproof Coffee and I’m one of those FrEaQs who drinks butter in their coffee. If I want to sit with someone and drink coffee I’ll go to Lamill mostly cause I like the chairs.
Power Lunch: I don’t really do lunch. If it’s lunchtime, I eat breakfast food. My go-to is Modern Eats and I get the Farmers Breakfast because I’m from Indiana and it reminds me of my childhood shucking corn.
Cocktail Hour: For happy hour, I go to The Friend on Hyperion, and I get “The Artist” because that’s what I am. If I’m meeting up with people it’s almost always at Akbar, the best gay bar in the neighborhood. It’s like my Cheers I think (I’ve never seen Cheers).
Retail Therapy: It’s not technically retail, but it is therapeutic: my favorite thing to do right now is to go to Glaze Fire and do paint-your-own pottery. My house is filled with oblong vases and whale-shaped piggy banks. I just painted a ceramic hand that you can hang necklaces on. Instead of getting lunch with someone, I go to Glaze Fire and get creative.
Field Trip: The Satellite is a great small music and comedy venue. There are shows or DJs every night and usually pretty cheap. Lady Gaga played there once. My roommate got tickets from his work and brought his girlfriend instead of me. I almost murdered him.
Date Night: L & E Oyster Bar. Their oyster collection is as extensive as their wine selection. I grew up landlocked and fish wasn’t part if my diet, but now I cant get enough of these salt-water bivalve mollusks!
Don’t Miss: The Reservoir! Walking around once takes about an hour. Bring a buddy and unload your problems on a friend! Check out the dog park! Be free!
Hidden Gem: I get my nails done at Gloss as much as I’ll allow myself. They’re all so sweet, accepting, and have amazing artists who have made my nails look like everything from cherry blossom trees to Illuminati eyes. All my friends go there now. It’s like my other Cheers.
Main image: courtesy of Carissa Dorsen