Dance of Deception

Dozens of teens in impossibly good physical shape living, training, and competing with each other to be at the top of a demanding field where no one stays on top for long. What could possibly go wrong?

I mean, aside from attempted murder, obstruction of justice, parental manipulation, locking people on the roof, sexual assault, pimping out students to wealthy donors and, eventually, actual murder?

In Netflix’s new messy teen YA drama, Tiny Pretty Things, we get a lot of scandal plus a whole lotta sex between sexy people but not much else to make us hold our plie.

Setting A High Bar

At the Archer School for Ballet, the show’s fictional Chicago school for elite dancers, things are rotten. The school portrays itself as one of the city’s greatest institutions. And it does turn out talent. But we are taken inside the walls where even great talent doesn’t get you anywhere unless you know how to kiss up to the right people and scheme against the rest.

Neveah (Kylie Jefferson) is a late add to the school to replace a student who fell/was pushed off the roof and serve as a new story for the media to cover. Neveah literally walks over the crime scene tape to get inside. From there life is a whirlwind of scandal, dance, and romance.

Let’s Get Physical

None of the cast members are skipping leg day. Or Ab day. Or any day at the gym. It’s clear the producers put a premium on casting people whose primary skill is dance. That’s not to say the acting isn’t good. But easily the best part of Tiny Pretty Things is the intense dance.

The dance sequences are a staple of the show but never feel forced. It doesn’t matter if they’re in the studio rehearsing a complex new sequence, on stage wowing donors, or busting a move on the street for a little extra cash, all of these performances are compelling and look amazing and are the best part of watching.

All & Nothing

Conflict is key to any good story, and this show has it. The problem is, there is too much of it. Everyone’s story is connected, and I didn’t have any problem keeping up with who’s sleeping with who and who’s screwing who. My issue is there are so many scandals and betrayals that I never really grow attached to any of the characters.

After a night of arrests and sex and betrayals, one character from outside the Archer School’s orbit finally asks “Who are you people?” And it’s a good question. After 10 hours I have no real ideal who any of them are. Some are better drawn than others. Too many are as shallow as my driveway after a light rain.

The Critic’s Cocktail Recommendation

Every time I enjoy a night at the ballet I think of the lifetime of work the performers put in leading up to that performance.

So I’m serving up the Commonwealth Cocktail. With 71 ingredients it’s like ballet in that it’s a difficult challenge to master and like this show, there’s a lot going on and you’re not quite sure it’s worth the effort.


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