"Teenagers are horny, and that's not really news," Anjelica Bette Fellini tells Refinery29, describing the plot of her new Netflix show Teenage Bounty Hunters. She plays Blair, one half of a young bounty hunting duo alongside her twin sister Sterling, played by Maddie Phillips.
Teenage Bounty Hunters is just as unique and exciting as its title suggests, but in between the epic action sequences (that the actors assure me they had stunt doubles for) there's the story of two teenage girls discovering their sexuality. This discovery is complicated by the fact that they attend a Christian school and that their whole family is very religious. But rather than being teens who rebel against the church, they learn how to make their faith coexist with their desire to be sexually active.
Blair always knew she was going to have premarital sex. She's one of those self-described "horny" teens for whom sex was a when and not an if. For the slightly more devout Sterling, things were a little more complicated. But in the first episode we see her make the decision to sleep with her longtime boyfriend, because it's something she can easily justify to herself. "She wants to marry Luke when they're older, and she loves him very much and the Bible says that's okay," Phillips says, explaining Sterling's mindset around her sexuality. "No matter what they do, God will love them. She just feels really justified with her desires."
The series does an excellent job of showing how the Bible can be interpreted differently by different people, and how that leads to characters like Blair and Sterling feeling confident in their relationships with God even as other Christians may not agree with their choices. As each of them grow more confident in their sexuality as the series goes on, the actors want the same for their audience. "I hope that this ... shows young women that it's okay to have wants and desires. And it's okay to act on them. And it's okay to ask for what you want and to use your voice in a sexual setting," Fellini says.
That's a journey that Sterling, in particular, goes on as she works towards achieving her first orgasm and understanding who she's attracted to. After acting in those pivotal scenes, Phillips agrees that "it's really empowering to get to see these girls ask for what they want and go for what they want."
Although Sterling and Blair do run into people, many people, who disagree with the way they live their life, they don't let that change them. As Phillips says, "Sterling, who has a very strong faith … she really believes in her heart that God loves her no matter what." In addition to their strong personal relationship with God, both girls come to love themselves more as well. It's that personal journey that Phillips most wanted to represent to teen viewers. "Hopefully girls will come away from this show feeling like they don't have to judge themselves as hard as maybe they have done," she says. "I hope that they can find a safe space in these two flawed, well-intentioned young women who really follow their hearts."
Sometimes they follow their hearts into a sexual situation, because, you know, teens are horny. And that's fine! As Fellini says, that's not really news. But when it comes to young women, people really love to act as if it is.