‘Beetlejuice Beetlejuice’ And The Valley: Cautionary Suburban Stories

Beetlejuice Beetlejuice And The Valley- Cautionary Suburban Stories - HEADER

By Anne T. Donahue

This week, we were treated to stills from the upcoming Beetlejuice sequel, titled Beetlejuice Beetlejuice, which, as far as I’m concerned, is the perfect title for any follow up.

Here’s my extensive list of the remakes and sequels I currently care about: Beetlejuice. And I care about it because I will follow Winona Ryder to the ends of the earth, because I wasn’t allowed to see Beetlejuice when it came out (and therefore it will always be appealing to me), and because it’s a weird story about weird people (and/or ghosts). As a consumer of art, I can’t take any more instalments about superheroes, supermen, new-and-improved ghostbusters, and whatever Dune is about. I am tired. I want to be both comfortable and nestled in a brand of nostalgia only Winona’s micro-bangs can bring. I root for Jenna Ortega every goddamn day.

I understand that I’m saying this after a week in which I’ve been pushed to my limit. In addition to Kate Middleton doubles and ads for Lisa Vanderpump’s new hotel-in-Paris TV show, I – nay, all of us – have been inundated with clips from and interviews for The Valley, the Vanderpump spin-off that promises to bring drama, discourse, and the dark reminder that a career in reality television will inevitably ruin your life.

When the trailer first dropped, I don’t think any of us really cared. Then, in the last few weeks, we, as a people, have learned that stars Jax Taylor and wife Brittany Cartwright are now living apart (as well as another couple featured on the series). It’s messy and it’s complicated, particularly since they share a child, they obviously don’t like each other, and the resentment between them is on par with the couples you hear fighting in Home Depot garden centres. Recently, the two did press in support of the show and while Jax claimed not to want to get into their personal life, Brittany took the opportunity and ran, emulating the episode of The Office where Jan and Michael host a dinner party. Their dynamic makes me want to walk into the sea.

This is exactly the type of remake/sequel/spin-off culture that has exhausted me to my very core. I don’t think Vanderpump Rules was supposed to become the epicentre of reality TV discourse, and I don’t think any of the people we were compelled by at the start of the show were supposed to be part of our daily lexicon over a decade after the premiere. The Valley may be a valuable look into the lasting effects of a lifetime playing one’s self. Or, it may be another attempt to recreate Scandoval, as if we’re not all totally bored by it.

More realistically, the current sequel-and-spin-off landscape is exhausting. And in a culture populated by remakes of Roadhouse, the conveyer belt of follow-ups and subsidiaries feels like we’re all stuck at a party we’ve been at too long. Is Beetlejuice Beetlejuice ground-breaking? Absolutely not, but It’s interesting in that its original players are back to usher in new generations of wee weirdos. It’s different than Ghostbusters’ latest because it doesn’t feel reactionary; it’s been over three decades since the 1988 original and, as Wednesday has proven, the vibes in the 21st century are appropriately are macabre. I welcome the likes of Lydia Deetze. Bring on the scowls and Catherine O’Hara’s hats.

Or maybe this is just a marker of my own age, my own cynicism, and my own increasing inability to get psyched over a new approach to the same thing. Maybe The Valley doesn’t appeal to me because, while Jax is entertaining, he is also an oaf, and I think he may be a sociopath. Maybe I want to curl up with a blanket over my head when I hear about the majority of spin-offs or remakes because good movies aren’t being made because studios are opting for what they consider safe bets. Maybe Beetlejuice Beetlejuice will be awful, and I will regret writing this essay with every fibre of my being.

But I don’t think so. Not only because I trust Winona, but because if I wanted to watch a Vanderpump spin-off, I would’ve attended James Kennedy’s DJ set down the road from my hometown so I could witness cold, hard reality.

Need a little more Anne? Read more from Anne T. Donahue right here!

Tags: Anne T. Donahue, beetlejuice, Beetlejuice Beetlejuice, top story, topstory, Winona Ryder

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