How to Tell Whether It's a Reboot, a Revival or a Spinoff: Winter Edition

There's a New Heathers, a New Shondaland Spin-Off and a New-Old Roseanne

By Cait Munro ·
Photo: Paramount

It's no secret that Hollywood has decided it's easier (and more bankable) to reboot, revive, spinoff and prequel-ize movies and television shows audiences already know and like than to take a flyer on something new. On TV in particular, the past few seasons have been filled with these kinds of projects (think: Young Sheldon and Will & Grace), and in 2018, they show no sign of letting up. 

If you're still struggling to understand which of your back-from-the-dead faves are being spun-off, which are being revived, which are being rebooted and which are doing a strange hybrid-y thing, look no further...

Queer Eye (February 6, Netflix)

Where You’ve Seen This BeforeThe original Queer Eye for the Straight Guy debuted on Bravo in 2003a time when, you may recall, being gay was way less widely accepted than it is now. The idea was to have a team of five homosexual men knowledgable about fashion, grooming, culture and design "make-better" the lives of slovenly, uncultured straight dudes (and later, other types of slovenly, uncultured people). The show was a watershed moment for LGBTQ+ culture.

What You’ll See This Time: "The original show was fighting for tolerance, our fight is for acceptance," one member of the new Fab Five explains in the trailer. The basic premise is the same, just recalibrated for the Trump era from the bygone days of Bush era. 

So, it’s a.... revival. The main cast is different but the premise is very much the same, and the whole thing feels very conscious of its own legacy.

Bachelor Winter Games (February 13, ABC)

Where You've Seen This Before: Think of it like Bachelor in Paradise except... freezing cold? And loosely based on the Winter Olympics? It's a weird premise, but popular characters from The Bachelor and The Bachelorette plus international Bachelor cast members (yes, it's a thing!) will join forces to hook up and cause drama. Oh, and I guess participate in Olympic-style events. 

What You'll See This Time: The aforementioned hooking up and causing drama, but with a snowy, winter backdrop and an Olympic theme. 

So it's a.... spinoff. Doesn't get more spinoff than this. 

Heathers (March 7, Paramount Network)

Where You've Seen This Before: The show is based on the 1988 dark comedy film of the same name, which starred Winona Ryder as a Veronica, a teen who defected from the most popular clique in school (all of whom are named Heather) to date bad boy J.D., played by Christian Slater. While attempting to prank one of her former BFFs, Veronica and J.D. accidentally kill her, setting off a chain reaction that shakes the foundation of the school. 

What You'll See This Time: The Heathers, who were originally played by Shannen Doherty, Kim Walker and Lisanne Falk, have taken on very different forms. One is plus-size, one is gay, and the other is a woman of color, but from the looks of it, they're still just as meanmeaner, maybe!as their predecessors. Meanwhile, Veronica is a Banana Republic-wearing sad girl and J.D. is an Adderall-snorting "teenage Charles Manson," so they haven't changed too much. 

So it's a.... reboot. Plot-wise, the show doesn't appear to acknowledge the existence of the original Heathers (though Doherty does make a cameo!) but follows the storyline and vibe of the film pretty closely, occasionally going as far as to mimic exact shots. 

American Idol (March 11, ABC)

Where You've Seen This Before: To be quite frank with you, I wasn't even aware American Idol, which originally ran from 2002 to 2016 and gave us such stars as Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, and Taylor Hicks, had gone off the air, but apparently, it had. And now, after less than two years of not attempting to jam ambitious young singers down the throats of the American public, it's back. 

What You'll See This Time: The big change is the judges panel, which is now comprised of Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and country singer Luke Bryan. My bet is on Katy to step into the Simon Cowell role, and I hope she does, because if all of these people are determined to come off as nice, it's going to be a real snoozer. 

So it's a... revival. Probably not much to see here, folks.

Station 19 (March 22, ABC)

Where You've Seen This Before: Well, you haven't, but if you're one of the few people still dutifully tuning into Grey's Anatomy, you soon will. The March 1 episode of Grey's will introduce firefighter Andy Herrera, played by Jaina Lee Ortiz, and the crew at Seattle's Station 19, which exists just three blocks away from Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital.

What You'll See This Time: The same drama and romance you've come to love from all Shondaland shows, but this time with fire. 

So it's a.... spinoff. But with the possibility of more crossover than just one episode. Producer Shonda Rhimes told Variety that "there’s a lot of potential for cross-pollination," with regards to appearances by members of the Grey's cast. Star Ellen Pompeo even has a cameo in the Station 19 trailer.

Roseanne (March 27, ABC)

Where You've Seen This Before: Starring comedian Roseanne Barr, Roseanne ran from 1988 to 1997 on ABC. A cheerful laugh-track comedy about the white working class, it centered on the Conners, and everyday family in exurban Illinois. It also made Barr a household name.

What You'll See This Time: Well, the tagline for the season is "same cast, new episodes," so it's safe to assume neither the tone nor the plot lines will have changed much.

So it's a... revival-boot: The show picks up right where it left off with the same couch, the same cast, and, yes, Roseanne's same obnoxious laugh. Except the year is 2018, Donald Trump is president, andoh yeahDan's not dead! Apparently, that will be addressed right away in episode one. Can't wait to see how they explain that one away. There's also a whole thing with Sarah Chalke, who played Becky Conner from season 6 onward after the original actress, Lecy Goranson, departed. Apparently, they both wanted to be involved in the revival, so Chalke will play a woman named Andrea, who hires Becky to serve as her surrogate. Not confusing at all... 

Cait Munro

Cait Munro is a freelance writer, editor, and digital content creator who obsesses about art, fashion, entertainment, and culture both pop and otherwise. Her work has appeared on Vice, New York Magazine, Artnet News, xoJane, BULLETT, and elsewhere.

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