Erika and Gia are best friends about to graduate from high school in Netflix’s new series “Boo, Bitch” when they realize that they’ve spent most of their formative years being mildly bullied and thoroughly boring. So in a last-ditch effort to leave their mark on high school forever, they decide to party it up right through prom. Unfortunately, the first night they muster up the courage to move past their social anxiety to party and drink, a freak accident leaves Erika dead — and confused.
“Boo, Bitch” is “Booksmart” meets “The Sixth Sense” for the “Riverdale” set, with a surprise twist that is worth the wait but you’ll need a couple of lattes to get there. The series stars Lana Condor (“To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before,” “Moonshot”) as Erika Vu and Zoe Margaret Coletti (“Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark”) as Gia, besties who have known each other since elementary school.
To be clear, Erika is not a zombie, nor is she possessed, but for some reason, people can still see and hear her, which leads the girls on a quest to find out what Erika’s unfinished business or “UFB” is. Solving the mystery of Erika’s specter status before her physical body rots away in a ditch will involve amateur wizards, witches, mediums, lots and lots of ice, and several characters named Jake.
Finding out what your “UFB” is as a ghost is a matter of trial and error. The girls try everything including making amends for past mistakes with hilariously disastrous results. A motley cast of characters provides clues to the mystery of Erika’s fate, including the “Newlifers,” a Christian club that sees Jesus everywhere (including a pizza). And the “Afterlifers” are made up of a magician, a medium, a star witch, and a Harajuku Girl fortune teller. Naturally, the latter team proves much more helpful.
The second central plot thread follows Erika’s growing confidence, including standing up to “resident bitch” Riley (Aparna Brielle) and her merry band of meanies. As Erika becomes more comfortable being herself, people are pulled into her orbit. Including Erika’s secret crush Jake C. (not to be confused with his best friends, Jake M. or Jake W.). Unfortunately, he also happens to be Riley’s ex. Almost overnight, Erika’s popularity skyrockets, and the more followers she gets, the more she wants to stick around and the more she loses sight of her original objective and best friend. Erika’s fall from grace has more significant consequences than either she or Gia realize, and in the end, her “UFB” is pretty OMG.
Solving the mystery of Erika’s human form and her transformation into a selfish, selfie-obsessed influencer goes from the sublime to the ridiculous pretty quick. When Erika decides to make amends with everyone she’s hurt since kindergarten, her mission culminates in a hilarious appearance by “On My Block” star Jason Genao as Devon, an old classmate plagued by a flatulence joke he never recovered from.
As with most teen paranormal tales, you need to leave a certain amount of logic at the door to enjoy the story. Over the top at times, like the sapphic vampire series “First Kill” (also on Netflix), this show doesn’t take itself, or ghosts, too seriously. Instead, showrunners Erin Erlich “(My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”) and Lauren Lungerich (“On My Block”) deftly inject humor into what is a pretty morbid premise. Still, as dark as a show about teens dealing with the death of a classmate gets, we’re nowhere near Vecna territory.
Although Condor is the romantic comedy queen, here she also serves as Co-Executive Producer and flexes her physical comedy skills in a role that feels utterly different from the pining Lara Jean that made her famous. In addition, Condor and Coletti’s best friend chemistry, although ridiculous at times, will make you want to root for them.
However, “Boo, Bitch” does suffer from pacing issues, as the plot barrels along at breakneck speed in the first few episodes, only to slow down in the middle and drop into the resolution like a ’90s sitcom.
Beneath its glossy veneer, “Boo, Bitch” is a fun, poignant look at love, life and grief. Averaging about 25 minutes each, “Boo, Bitch” was made for a weekend binge with popcorn and bunny slippers. The big twist near the end of the season makes up for the plot’s predictability and is just the antidote for those of us still recovering from “Stranger Things” Season 4.