While cheesy, campy, and all over the place, Astrid and Lilly Save the World manages to be entertaining.
Astrid & Lilly Save the World Season 1 Episode 1 introduces us to our title characters, along with the monsters they have to defeat — in the form of bullies and actual monsters.
The lead actresses dedicate themselves to their roles and make a messy and lackluster script fun.
Jana Morrison and Samantha Aucoin play Astrid and Lilly (respectively), two girls who constantly get bullied for their body type and quirkiness.
A significant aspect of the hour set the scene of a horrible high school environment riddled with bullies and mean girls.
Their raw emotion coming from the effects of the bullying is portrayed wonderfully in the script and the performances.
They are happy and very close friends, but the ridicule takes a toll.
Their friendship proves to be one of the best aspects displayed in the show.
Seeing two strong female leads being best friends delights throughout.
Written wonderfully, the emotional beats get center stage, and we wonder how their friendship will change and grow now that they have opened a portal to a monster dimension.
This is where things get weird, and the premiere starts to falter.
An advantage to the show is that it knows that it’s camp. They aren’t trying to hide it.
Sadly, the camp only occasionally works.
A magical sexy man with a horn appeared in the woods and became their guide (sort-of). Doesn’t that sound like wonderful theatrical goodness?
Sadly this character, named Brutus, takes away from the female empowerment trying to be displayed.
He mansplains everything, and he only appears when it’s convenient for him.
While he is (very) sexy, we can’t help but wonder why he needs to be such a pain in the arse.
He also seems to be relatively useless.
He doesn’t help them defeat the monster, Tearjerker. He only provides the necessary tools to stop him.
Because the girls opened the portal, they are the only ones who can close it (which got explained in a highly convoluted way).
They have to retrieve ten body parts from monsters and have them in a relic to close the portal.
Lots of things about the monster dimension make no sense.
Are there only ten monsters? Why ten body parts? Why aren’t there hundreds (or tens) of monsters already on earth?
These questions do not get answered (or are explained partially but then left hanging).
Brutus has the necessary liquid to destroy the monster, Tearjerker, for some unexplained reason.
Tearjerker does make for an exciting monster, even with his horrible haircut.
He steals people away to feed on their tears, letting them bathe in their tears for 48 hours before consuming them (as Brutus called it, “distilling his victims”).
The design of Tearjerker seems pretty basic — but it works.
Even though the kidnapped victims thought he looked like a sexy daddy, his long nails and grotesque face make for a menacing creature.
Tearjerker: Let all those tears out my miserable lovelies. And I’ll tell you why you can’t stop crying… because you’re excellent party guests!
Girl: I know this monster’s disgusting, but is he also kinda sexy? Like a sexy daddy who deals party drugs?
Tate: Gross, but yes exactly!
We wish the show could take itself a bit more seriously because we became a little freaked out before that line.
The campiness provides mountains of potential (especially with such dedicated performers), but it gets misused too often (like calling a monster feeding off of your tears daddy).
Another misuse of the exaggerated style came from the initial summoning of the portal (and the description).
Brutus explained how they opened the portal, but the devil was literally in the details.
Astrid: What Spell?
Brutus: Oh you know, the one where you were standing 7.263 feet from each other. The copper, the fir tree bark, and the _____ when you were howling your intense pain at the moon. “aahhhhh”
Lilly: And then we said “we want you all to evaporate” backwords!
Brutus: What? No, no, only the stuff that I said.
Astrid: Why are we listening to this lunatic?
Brutus: And you really should’ve known better than to do it on the third Sunday of the ninth month during the pink moon! Come on.
What’s with the specifics?
The wonkiness of the writing occasionally appeared throughout the entirety of the hour.
Brutus: Look, I can’t make you stay. Rule number 6795c. But you should know, the thing that has your friend is called the Tearjerker and it targets literally that cries for any reason at all.
Astrid: We gotta go. Let’s go.
Astrid and Lilly Save the World managed to be a boatload of fun to watch despite these flaws.
Their relationship, paired with an outrageous situation, put up a lot of laughs while dealing with the severity of the problem well.
Adding in the outcast trope works well, as it provides the leads with a different, much more real monster: Highschool Bullies.
Even with the mountain of issues, the show grounds itself in the strength of its lead characters.
Sadly, there also turns out to be a plethora of continuity issues that get entirely glossed over.
A woman kidnapped by Tearjerker got her eyes removed by the monster but never mentioned again.
There were supposedly the two classmates and a woman that went missing (I assume that woman is the one who gets de-eyed, but we don’t know), but when Astrid and Lilly free the captors, she’s nowhere around.
Brutus himself causes many continuity issues and more than once contradicted himself when it came to Tearjerker.
Shouldn’t the first blast of the Tearjerker-repelling liquid have taken him out? Why did he come back just to be taken out again?
They cut him open and cut out his tongue. That sort of injury usually makes it hard to bounce back.
Even with continuity issues, they managed to use gore, goo, slime, and a myriad of other gross things to bring strength back to the show’s theatricality.
If the show continues in this direction, it will stay mediocre.
Hopefully, they lean more into Astrid and Lilly’s friendship and how it grows through the weird times they face while keeping the camp level in the sweet spot.
We are excited to see the monster/creature designs in the next episodes, and the preview voice from one of them seems pretty creepy.
Christine: Jamison? If that’s you playing another one of your pranks I will be forced to tell you mo- My Lord and Savior! You’ve chosen me! What an unusual-looking angel of his mercy. Not at all what I expected, but no matter. You heard my prayers, and you are here to rid me of that evil teacher Jonas.
Creature: I am here to serve.
It could be pretty solid for Syfy if the show manages to pull itself together a bit.
What did you think of the premiere?
Will you be tuning in for more?
Let us know in the comments, and remember to watch Astrid & Lilly Save the World online here!
Michael Stack is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.