Homework Assignments Are Literally Murder in Syfy’s ‘Deadly Class’

Allen Fraser/Syfy

Some high schoolers might feel that their daily experiences are “killer” as they try to fit in socially while also tackling schoolwork. But in the series Deadly Class (Wednesdays at 10pm ET/PT beginning Jan. 16) this feeling becomes literal — the show takes place at a secret academy known as Kings Dominion, which trains privileged youngsters from criminal families in the lethal arts.

Benjamin Wadsworth, who stars as school newcomer Marcus Lopez, gave an apt description of Kings when we spoke with him. “I wasn’t really allowed to watch Harry Potter growing up,” Wadsworth offered, “but what I have heard from people is that [Deadly Class is] basically Harry Potter set in the Slytherin universe.”

Potter fans who know what sort of dark wizards the Slytherin house produced at Hogwarts will understand that comparison when they see the macabre agenda at Kings Dominion.

Proudly claiming alumni like JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald (Class of ’57), and with a curriculum that ranges from reading The Anarchist Cookbook to watching the infamous Faces of Death video to prep for classes like Poison Lab, Kings is not your typical school. And that means its internal social hierarchies also take on a more-brutal-than-usual form.

“The only difference [between here and regular high school],” Marcus tells viewers in a voice-over, “is in this place, the dagger in your back is real.”

That especially holds true for a student like Marcus, known as a “rat” — a student who doesn’t come from a well-connected family. Marcus is recruited by the school from the streets after they spot what they think is his potential as a coldblooded killer, but he does not fit in with any of the academy’s violent cliques.

“Marcus is probably one of the more morally centered characters,” Wadsworth explained.

To get into Marcus’ head, Wadsworth read Deadly Class, Rick Remender and Wes Craig’s graphic novel on which the TV show is based, six times. The series is set in 1987 San Francisco and has a striking visual look similar to the pages of its source material. With a synth-infused soundtrack and an enjoyably anarchic sensibility that recalls the best punk rock of that era, the series also feels like a film one might have stumbled upon in a 1980s video store, with the morbidly satiric approach it takes to serious teenage themes akin to the pitch-black ’80s cult classic Heathers.

“Our show is definitely a dark comedy,” Wadsworth agreed, “but we do have these serious questions about mental health and social acceptance.”