Time Magazine writer Judy Berman describes SYFY’s new series Astrid & Lilly Save the World as “Buffy minus the male gaze,” and I think that is the perfect way to summarize the show. It’s an especially poignant statement right now, too, as Buffy creator Joss Whedon receives a reckoning for years of alleged abuse toward countless cast and crew members on his projects, including people like Ray Fisher, Charisma Carpenter and Gal Gadot.
That’s not to say Buffy isn’t an excellent series with a monumental impact, but there are obvious conversations to have about its “feminist” pedigree, given who helmed the series. Astrid & Lilly Save the World is a wonderful and endlessly charming supernatural/fantasy dramedy starring two plus-size teenagers, Astrid (Jana Morrison) and Lilly (Samantha Aucoin), who are mercilessly bullied, (often called “Pudge Patrol”) as outcasts at Pine Academy.
Astrid & Lilly Save the World season 1 review
Like many teen dramas and especially ones with a supernatural edge, Astrid & Lilly Save the World focuses on relatable leads who feel like real people. It’s a show for people who have been bullied or ostracized to find some representation on-screen and in the form of two very lovable leading ladies who we get to watch evolve into monster hunters.
The story begins with Astrid (Jana Morrison) and Lilly (Samantha Aucoin) mistakenly opening a portal to a terrifying and downright weird monster dimension, allowing creatures like the “Tear-Jerker” and others to escape into our world. With the assistance of their guide (or their “Giles” for Buffy fans) Brutus and their developing superpowers (powers you’re not likely to see portrayed literally anywhere else), Astrid and Lilly must defeat these monsters before they wreak untold havoc and kill everyone.
Lilly is the more introverted of the pair, while Astrid is considerably bolder and nursing a crush on the school’s resident goth kid, Sparrow (Spencer Macpherson). The duo regularly embarks on stakeouts and moonlit missions to find out what their peers are up to, to keep themselves entertained. One night, their nighttime adventures culminate in their accidentally opening a deadly portal.
Each episode involves the pair going up against a monster-of-the-week with fun visuals and special effects. It’s reminiscent of early days Supernatural in some ways, but with a distinct coming-of-age angle that parallels nicely with whatever hellion they must defeat this week.
I’m just crossing my fingers that SYFY gives this show a chance to flourish beyond a single season because Astrid & Lilly Save the World is the exact kind of lighthearted, zany fare we need right now with leads who will make some of us feel much less alone in a cruel world.