'Deadly Class' Season 1: It's the deadly 1980s that highlights Syfy's new teen thriller
Forget Poison Lab and the other black arts of homicide, the streets of 1980s America were enough a setting for 'Deadly Class' to be a deadly show
Sure, Poison Lab, Black Arts, and the Fundamentals of Psychopathy make King's Dominion a one of a kind high school, curated to train the future destroyers of America, but what makes the series 'Deadly Class' a deadly one, is the backdrop it is set in - a 1980s counterculture.
The 1980s have been referred to as the deadliest decade, and it's not just the 2016-2017's TV series I am quoting here. Crime in the United States, including in major cities such as Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Dallas, and Miami witnessed soaring homicide rates, increased drug trafficking and the street gangs that battled for a share of the market in the 1980s and early 1990s.
Fort Worth, Texas, reported 202 homicides, the highest-ever in 1986, making this central Texas city the deadliest city in the nation, quoted by the Star-Telegram in 1999 in the article titled 'Officers Remember '80s, Early '90s As Dark Years.' And this is reflected in Syfy's 'Deadly Class,' - the unfiltered raw violence of the '80s.
We have an orphan vagrant, Marcus Lopez, who gets enrolled in a school of assassins because of his rep as a killer who burnt down a boys' home. It takes about two episodes to realize Marcus isn't the one to set the boys home on fire, but he sure is a ruthless killer, the kind of an assassin the school is dedicated to train.
The coming-of-age story wastes no time to introduce the then President of the United States, Ronald Reagan, and, of course, he is one of the major antagonists. Marcus is determined to kill 'the Gripper,' because he is responsible, indirectly, for his parents' death.
As an allusion to the deadly decade, Marcus shares that ever since Regan cut-short the funds for mental facilities in the country, releasing the mentally ill into society, a schizophrenic woman named Barbara Salinger jumped off the Golden Gate bridge, killing both his parents on the spot and leaving him a homeless Latino orphan on the streets of San Francisco.
The unsafe streets boasted street thugs like Rory, who murdered other homeless people to claim monopoly on the streets. When Marcus kills Rory and is consumed by guilt, Master Lin assures the young man he killed the right person and someone who deserved to die, given that he was responsible for six homicides, which means, killing him, Marcus possibly saved the lives of many others.
Reagan's controversial presidency, when it comes to the plight of HIV Aids victims, is also explicitly mentioned in the second episode when Professor Denke, who becomes fond of Marcus, tells him killing Reagan is so justified as he never helped his friends who suffered and perhaps died from the disease Reagan won't even mention in public.
'Deadly Class' does not filter the era. Sure, Maria Salazar boasts big hair and there's a lot of glamour and glitter, but the violence is as real as a street kid of the 80s may recall. "We're trying to give a pretty realistic look at what that era was like," 37-year-old Wesley Craig, the illustrator of 'Deadly Class' told USA Today.
Series co-creator, as well as the creator of the graphic novel the show is based on, Rick Remender, told the same publication the series is based on his teenage experiences, "drifting and undulating." A streak of nostalgia amid violence and crazy gore and slurs, is experienced through the show's soundtracks featuring a mix of alt-rock and punk music significant of the era.
The pilot titled 'Reagan Youth' boasted tracks 'such as 'Behind the Wheel,' by Depeche Mode, 'Too Young to Die' by Agent Orange, 'The Holy Hour' by The Cure and many more. Modern day TV series have taken upon the 80s as an interesting backdrop for reasons mentioned above. Watching 'Deadly Class' may feel like you're transported to a magical kingdom of assassins, the truth, however, is the series is much more real than you think and is, perhaps, one of the more deadly tales set in the '80s, told without metaphor, and as raw as it can get.