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Davey & Jonesie's Locker Might Be Too Weird for Its Own Good

Hulu's latest teen series takes big swings, but this whacky multiverse story lacks any real substance.
  • Veronika Slowikowska and Jaelynn Thora Brooks in Davey & Jonesie's Locker (Photo: Hulu/Blue Ant Media)
    Veronika Slowikowska and Jaelynn Thora Brooks in Davey & Jonesie's Locker (Photo: Hulu/Blue Ant Media)

    There’s always been a place for weirdness in the young adult TV sphere. From the original Roswell to recent hits like School Spirits or the tragically short-lived Astrid and Lilly Save the World, the genre has never been afraid to take big swings. Heck, prior to its rebranding, The CW’s entire ethos could basically be summed up as “super weird teen dramas” like Riverdale and Stargirl. When done right, YA shows that embrace chaos and don't take themselves too seriously can be great — or, at the very least, highly entertaining.

    However, Davey & Jonesie’s Locker might actually be too weird for its own good. Hulu’s new teen comedy, which premieres March 22, centers on oddball best friends Davey (Veronika Slowikowska) and Jonesie (Jaelynn Thora Brooks), who discover that their locker is a portal to the multiverse. Their eccentric science teacher Mr. Schneider (Dan Beirne) guides them through various alternate universes of their high school and tries to get them back home. Meanwhile, the Delinquent Acquisition Deputy (D.A.D) and Management Organisation of the Multiverse (M.O.M) attempt to trap the girls in the “Detention Dimension,” threatening to erase their memories of each other.

    Right from the beginning, the series feels like it’s just aiming to be as weird and nonsensical as possible. Within the first few minutes of Episode 1 (“You Don’t Belong Here”), viewers are introduced to Mr. Schneider’s class of holograms, alternate universe versions of himself that include vampire Schneider, hippie Schneider, and even dog Schneider. Towards the end of the pilot, Davey and Jonesie interrupt the school dance with a bizarre performance in which they wear giant chicken and horse mascot heads to send a “message” to their classmates (is it really any wonder they don’t have any other friends?). There’s also animation and special effects mixed in to underscore the offbeat atmosphere — think floating cartoon animal heads, anthropomorphic lobsters who look like they got lost on their way to The Amanda Show, and colorful patterns reminiscent of a bad LSD trip.

    Episode 3 (“The Day the Music Schneid”) in particular might be one of the strangest teen show episodes in recent history. The girls find themselves in a reality where any kind of music is strictly forbidden — as a result, none of the students they meet at this alternate universe high school has any concept of singing, instruments, or rhythms. It’s an admittedly intriguing concept that feels fresh. In one unsettling scene, a student taps their pen and a janitor sweeps back and forth as a teacher mouths gibberish in place of any singing. It’s downright creepy.

    The episode quickly devolves into whacky nonsense again when the girls decide that they simply have to sing (despite it being the literal one rule they’re supposed to follow) and put on a goofy performance in the bathroom. They then teach the other students how to rock out, which involves ridiculous stuff like one girl putting a musical triangle over her nose. It might be amusing, but it’s not nearly as funny as the show wants it to be. Despite its promising premise, the episode is so focused on being over-the-top silly that it misses a chance to say anything worth listening to.

    The biggest issue with Davey & Jonesie’s Locker is that it uses ridiculousness as a substitute for an actual story. By the end of Episode 3, we still know virtually nothing about the two leads except that they’re incredibly codependent and pride themselves on being “different” from their classmates. It doesn’t matter how fun and zany their adventures through the multiverse are if we don’t have any reason to be invested in their characters or friendship in the first place. Without any actual stakes driving the plot, a floating werewolf randomly popping up (a real thing that happens) isn’t scary or funny. It’s just a floating werewolf.

    There are plenty of examples of “weird” teen shows that still deliver compelling stories. Take School Spirits — the tone is much darker compared to Davey & Jonesie’s Locker, but the show takes similarly big swings and creative risks. While School Spirits' Season 1 twist ending is definitely wild, it ultimately works because we’re so invested in its world. Even Riverdale, which became known for going totally off the rails in its later seasons, still had a solid foundation to build on, in terms of characters and relationships — we were willing to follow Archie and Betty through anything, no matter how ridiculous, because we cared deeply about them.

    Although Davey & Jonesie’s Locker has some fun moments and a solid cast, its need to be weird and outlandish above all ultimately gets in the way of what should really matter: the story. And that’s a shame, because, as the music episode proves, there are actually some intriguing ideas hidden in this multiverse.

    Davey & Jonesie’s Locker Season 1 is streaming on Hulu. Join the discussion about the show in our forums.

    Kelly Martinez is a TV Reporter based in Los Angeles. Her previous work can be found at BuzzFeed and People Magazine, among other outlets. She enjoys reading, spending time with her cat, and explaining the plot of Riverdale to people.

    TOPICS: Davey & Jonesie's Locker, Hulu, Jaelynn Thora Brooks, Veronika Slowikowska