The creator of Child’s Play, Don Mancini, has recently reimagined the franchise’s direction with his new television series, Chucky. First introduced in 1988, Child’s Play helped establish the trend of ‘80s horror flicks with an orange-haired Good Guy doll as a psychopathic killer. Following Child’s Play, the franchise went on to produce six more films. In the modern-day, Chucky has received widespread attention and praise. As such, the television series has quickly become a massive hit. Both the USA Network and SYFY both confirmed it to be one of the most-watched premieres in 2021. From queer representation to manipulative tactics, let’s take a look at how the TV series Chucky differs from the movies.
As per the creator himself, Chucky is a direct sequel to Cult of Chucky. After the film’s suspenseful ending events, Chucky picks up sometime later, where the infamous Charles Lee Ray (Brad Dourif) is once again yearning to cause chaos and torment. Chucky has now focused his sights on Jake Wheeler and is intent on bringing more mayhem and destruction to the town of Hackensack.
A Gay Main Character
Jake Wheeler (Zackary Arthur), the protagonist in Chucky, is adamant about his gay identity. While most of his peers are accepting of his sexuality, his father, Lucas, a struggling alcoholic, highly disapproves. Nevertheless, Jake proudly carries his label with him, even crushing on fellow student and podcast-creator, Devon (Björgvin Arnarson).
In later Child’s Play sequels, Chucky becomes the father of Glen, who also goes by the name Glenda. Glen/Glenda reveals to be a genderfluid character, helping to push the agenda for more queer characters to be included in the horror genre. The inclusion of queer representation in the film’s franchise awakened a progressiveness for the character of Chucky. Despite Chucky possessing a mean streak as a ruthless killer, his willingness to accept his own child’s sexuality is viewed as a groundbreaking step of embracement.
While Glen/Glenda is an LGBTQ+ character, they don’t shine as a particular main character of the film franchise. While their journey is imperative to the story, their overall lack of importance discredits how much their representation actually means. As such, the implementation of a gay main character in Chucky has proven to be an effective approach to the story’s original plot. Seeing as Chucky has familiarity with the topic, he slyly uses this to his advantage when manipulating Jake. Nevertheless, queer characters in modern television shows as main leads is a step in a positive direction.
Charles Lee Ray’s motive in the original Child’s Play is quite clear. When the character is first introduced, he is shown to be a killer criminal on the run from law enforcement. Wounded by a bullet during a shootout, Charles frantically transfers his soul into the body of a Good Guy doll. When Andy Barclay’s mother purchases the doll in a back alley, Chucky sneakily enters the Barclay’s home with revenge on his mind. The simplicity in Lee Ray’s motive conveys his message of wishing to seek revenge against the officer that killed him, and against his former partner. To do so, Chucky strives to transfer his soul from out of the doll and into Andy Barclay’s human body.
In the TV series Chucky, Charles Lee Ray’s motive tends to become confusing. Fans speculate that because Lee Ray grew up in Hackensack, he wishes to inflict further pain upon the town that he first murdered in. As such, Chucky consistently attempts to use Jake as the driving force to complete his deadly antics. Others assume that rather than commit murders on his own, Chucky would rather form a team of killers working together. Hence, Chucky’s careful grooming of Jake serves a selfish purpose.
With all of this in mind, one of the biggest reasons the TV series Chucky differs from the movies is the grey area surrounding Charles Lee Ray’s exact motive in the television adaptation. Theorists have also speculated the notion that perhaps Chucky actually cares about Jake. Suffering from his mother’s recent death, Jake presents as a misanthrope and a loner. As a victim of bullying, Jake often neglects to stand up for himself against his harassers. Chucky might recognize Jake’s problems as similar to problems that his own child has faced. Still, Chucky’s precise plans remain up for discussion.
Charles Lee Ray’s Origin Story
In the Child’s Play film franchise, very little is actually known about Charles Lee Ray. Referred to as the Lakeshore Strangler, Lee Ray uses calculated manipulation to deceive those closest to him. As such, Chucky’s personality is built around general nastiness and a desire to cause pain to others. Lee Ray is accompanied by his foul-mouthed nature and despicable attitude towards others. With this in mind, he will stop at nothing to achieve exactly what he wants. In Child’s Play, Lee Ray organizes a plan to have a young Andy Barclay bring him to the South Side of Chicago. There, he murders his former partner, Eddie Caputo, by blowing up his house.
Within the first couple of episodes, Don Mancini’s Chucky has already laid the soil for the foundation of Lee Ray’s origins. Viewers first observe minuscule glimpses of Charles as a child during one of his birthday parties. Throughout each episode, the showrunners dive further into Chucky’s terrifying backstory. From childhood, Charles Lee Ray displayed signs of brutality and destruction. In an episode flashback, a young Charles takes a bite into an apple that he received while Trick-Or-Treating. Despite the apple containing a sharp razor blade, Charles takes a bit anyway.
Whether it’s following the central plot of the films or honoring Lee Ray’s original roots, his insanity isn’t up for debate. Even though some similarities are present, the TV series Chucky undoubtedly differs from the movies. While there’s no discrediting the film franchise’s successful run, Chucky is quickly becoming a fan favorite.
Despite each variation’s notable differences, both Chucky and the Child’s Play films have established a successful horror franchise. With more episodes of Chucky to come, there’s no telling what differences the audience will see next.