It has happened, people who grew up in the Eighties. Enough time has passed that the Youths are reimagining the cultural objects of YOUR youth. Selena Gomez, along with playwright Tanya Saracho and writer/producer Gabriela Revilla Lugo, is reimagining the John Hughes coming of age classic Sixteen Candles as 15 Candles, a half-hour series for Peacock in which four Latinas come of age during their quinceañera. Gomez is co-producing with Saracho and Lugo, who will also write for the series.
Other than making me feel old, I am into this reconceptualization of Sixteen Candles. That film was a Saturday afternoon staple growing up, but it doesn’t really hold up, not least because of the racist portrayal of Long Duk Dong, an Asian exchange student in the film. Sixteen Candles will always exist, it’s not like it’s being erased, but reimagining it for a new generation, hopefully without the Asian stereotypes, isn’t the worst thing. Also, I like the idea of having four protagonists, and four different ways to explore coming of age. Using multiple protagonists in a similar setting is a good way to explore how the universal can come from the specific, to show how everyone’s story can be different and yet still touch on the same experiences and shared ground.
And this is another pin on Selena Gomez’s producer coat. Besides co-executive producing Only Murders in the Building, she also produced, among other things, The Broken Hearts Gallery, Hotel Transylvania 4: Transformania, 13 Reasons Why, and her own cooking show, Selena + Chef. But wait, there’s more, because Tanya Saracho and Gabriela Revilla Lugo are also multi-hyphenates, as Saracho is a co-founder of the Untitled Latinx Project, which seeks to increase access and opportunity for the Latine community across the entertainment industry, and she has worked on shows like Looking and How to Get Away With Murder, and was showrunner for Vida, which she created. And Lugo is a writer/director/producer who most recently worked on Taika Waititi’s Next Goal Wins, due out later this year. So this is basically a power triumvirate of Latinas banding together to remake Sixteen Candles for Gen Z.
Attached - Selena at the Critics Choice Awards on the weekend.