Netflix has unveiled the cast for its forthcoming Heartbreak High series, an eight-part reimagining of the Australian teen drama that ran from 1994 to ’99.
The new series was first announced to be in development last December, with Screen NSW aiding in the joint production between Netflix, Fremantle Australia and the Amsterdam-based NewBe. According to a press release, the new incarnation of Heartbreak High will be “inspired by the original ‘90s series, but totally reimagined for a new generation”.
Today (November 22), Netflix confirmed that 2022’s Heartbreak High will be led by a 13-piece ensemble. A new synopsis for the series reads: “A discovery makes Amerie an instant pariah at Hartley High, and causes a mysterious and very public rift with her ride-or-die Harper. With her new friends – outsiders Quinni and Darren – Amerie must repair her reputation, while navigating love, sex, and heartbreak.”
🚨 Casting Announcement 🚨
— Netflix ANZ (@NetflixANZ) November 21, 2021
Amerie (who uses the pronouns she/her) will be played by Ayesha Madon, and is described as “whip smart and outwardly brash, a working-class girl with an enormous heart and an even bigger mouth”. Asher Yasbincek will play Harper (she/her), “the person in high school everyone is a little afraid of”, while Chloe Hayden and James Majoos take the respective roles of Quinni (she/her) and Darren (they/them/he/him).
Among the group’s classmates will be Malakai (he/him), an athletic Bundjalung boy played by Thomas Weatherall; Dusty (he/him), a bisexual musician and jock – played by Josh Heuston – who “underneath the hot aesthetic [is] just as insecure as the rest of us mere humans”; and Ca$h, played by Will McDonald and described as “a drug dealer, food delivery driver, pet duck owner, eshay [and] complex young man quietly struggling with his identity”.
Gemma Chua-Tran will play Sasha (she/her/they/them), “the coolest, sexiest, and chiccest lesbian at the school”. She’s said to come across as “well-read and highly nuanced”, marking a stark contrast to Spider (he/him), who’s pinned as “a sprinkling of incel, dickhead and class clown rolled into one”. Bryn Chapman-Parish will portray him.
Rounding out the teenage cast is Brodie Townsend as Ant (he/him), “the kind of guy who’ll always look out for you when you get too wasted at a party”, and Sherry-Lee Watson as Missy (she/her), who’s said to be “much more introspective than she lets on”.
As for the adults, Hartley High’s principal, Woodsy (she/her), will be played by Rachel House. “She likes to think of herself as a woke ally,” the press release notes, “but the students say she’s more of a ‘Karen’.” Chika Ikogwe will play the English teacher Jojo (she/her), who “when the school is mired in controversy, volunteers to tackle the issue head on”.
In a joint statement shared with the casting news, executive producers Chris Oliver-Taylor and Carly Heaton said: “Heartbreak High allowed a generation of Aussie teens, us included, to see themselves represented on TV for the first time. It was brash, fun, uniquely Australian and an international hit. Through our great partnership with Netflix and our amazing cast and crew, we can’t wait to take Australia to the world once again.”
Que Minh Luu, Netflix’s director of content in Australia and New Zealand, echoed the pair’s excitement. In her own statement, Luu said: “Making Heartbreak High for today’s generation of Australians has been a long-standing dream.
“We couldn’t be more stoked to be starting production on a show that means so much to so many of us, with a cohort of such incredible breakthrough talent stepping up both on screen and off. Teenage (and adult) me would be equally thrilled to be friends with or socially rejected by this outrageously talented cast.”
Heartbreak High debuted in 1994 and quickly garnered a healthy local audience. It aired for seven seasons in total (with the first four on Network Ten and latter three on the ABC) and helped launch the careers of several Aussie actors, including Callan Mulvey, Ada Nicodemou and Lara Cox.
Upon being uploaded to Netflix in November of 2020, the original series quickly became one of Australia’s most popular titles. It also attracted interest from international viewers, cracking Netflix’s Top 10 in Serbia and Top 30 in the Netherlands.