Okay so think Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars but now add the element of Ballet. I was surprised the risk the show took by casting ballerinas instead of actors who did ballet. It might have left things to be desired in terms of some the actress’/actor’s portrayals but there was so much emotion conveyed in the dancing, even I found myself enthralled. That being said though I find myself extremely disappointed in some the of the plotlines taken in the show. I am only going to focus on 3 characters in particular though.
PSA: I have not read the books this show is based on so I am just giving an opinion on what I saw.
So let’s get into it:
- Neveah Stroyer: So the only black female ballerina is a scholarship kid? And has no active parents in her life? Like I understand making her scholarship child but the no active parent in her life, besides her brother, the thing is downright typecasting and I thought in this day and age we don’t do that sort of thing to black people. I think it was particularly annoying because the only other black person is Caleb, a mixed boy who has a dislike for Muslims because of what happened to his father was killed in combat (AKA war). cue me rolling my eyes Look I know we still have some Islamaphobic people in today’s day and age but it just rubs me the wrong way that they turned the only other Black person into such an unlikeable ignorant character. Neveah is met with outright distrust and mean girls when she enters the school but I wasn’t surprised by that. What did surprise me was her reaction to everything cause this girl was a walking contradiction. At one end she is openly antagonising the choreographer and the director of the school and on the other, she is trying to keep her head down and make it through this school so she can be somebody when she leaves. What is the truth girl? Her actions are contradictions to what she says. I do wish she had been made to be a tad bit more in vain of Pretty Little Liars’ character Spencer Hastings. Sure, Spencer did her share of sleuthing but she wasn’t an idiot she did it on the down-low, so people wouldn’t catch on to her suspicions (all the time). I mean, if you are going to write a character from the hood, the least you could go all the way with it and make her knowledgeable enough to stay under people’s and the school’s radar.
- Shane McRae: I like Shane, I really do. To me, he is somehow one of the more relatable characters on the show. He needs to be loved added on to his inability to see his self-worth beyond what he can provide people with his body which can be applied to Ballet but also in his relationships. First with Oren, see I think in a way Oren gave him validation, that is why despite everything that included Oren having a girlfriend and him constantly being kicked out of his room so Oren can have sex with her, Shane felt validated that Oren saw him as a sexual being. Listen it is not uncommon for people from marginalised groups like members of the LGBTQ+ community and Black women to fall prey to idol worship to the first appropriate person who pays us a crumb of attention, particularly if its a white dude… It’s not uncommon, this stuff is extremely common, despite what angry Twitter comments will have you believe. Which is why, for me, the only disappointing thing was when he jumped right back into another relationship, that being said he seemed to collect himself pretty quickly about his bad habits and seems to be trying to be more open and honest about it, at least with himself.
- June Park: I am not going to lie this girl has got to be a combination of two characters cause the split nature of her behaviour is so concerning to me. So June is another ballerina who tends to fade into the background aka she is easily forgettable. Now, most people would think that means doing everything they can to either get better or sucking up to the people that make the decisions but no, that is not what she does. When you meet June she seems to be like this sad girl who lost her roommate and is also maybe a tad bit threatened by the presence of Neveah but there are so many things she does throughout the show that have me convinced me of not only her age but also of her need to maybe quit ballet altogether, it is driving her to near madness. First, she roofied Cassie the night she was pushed off the roof of the school. Why did she do that? What purpose could it have served since it does not seem like this school tests their ballerinas for harmful substances (like pain meds looking at Bette) so it’s not like she would have gotten in trouble with the school? Was she hoping that Cassie would harm herself while on it? Another thing I had a problem with, her being besties with Bette. You do realise why Bette was harassing the new girl and not you right? Unlike you, she saw her as a threat. Bette made sure throughout the season that June would always be playing second fiddle to her, including stealing the lead part in the ballet right from underneath her and the person she stays mad at and stays suspicious of is Neveah? Make it make sense. I am glad she got out from under her mom’s guardianship but at what cost? I am surprised any Judge would grant her this emancipation, to be honest. I hope she gets what she wants because she is so unpredictable it could end badly if she doesn’t.
So I am going to give another two other PSA’s:
- I started this show not knowing how old the students in this show actually are and normally when you think about Euphoria or Riverdale there is always a reminder about how young these kids are. It may not always be done well but it is done. Phew, this show. The sheer amount of teenagers having sex with adults was way too high cue meme. Listen, I live in the real world I know that there are adults out here having sex with children but other shows have the audacity to at least show shame or remorse in the adult or the child or at least everyone else. This show just normalised it. The director having sex with one of her students, the choreographer sleeping with a teenager. I mean the worst of the worst was the basic cesspool of molestation that the school helped foster by feeding grown men teenage girls. This show was not always great but at the end there it became downright unbearable.
- The amount of the side characters with problems that just never got addressed… Oren having an eating disorder that his current girlfriend Neveah doesn’t even know about and let’s not get into how quickly he falls for her. Nabil was just written badly, to be honest, they tried to make him mysterious but they ended up making him another man of colour who’s just chasing after a white girl, who doesn’t care as much. The instructors are also so terrible considering they are dealing with children here. I mean this isn’t even how teachers in prestigious private schools act, right?
I hope there is not another season to this show on pure entertainment purposes but if they decide to do one, I hope they really take some cues from other shows with teenagers and just refine their work a bit more. At least do a better a job of hiding the inexperience of the actors/actresses.