Nearly half a century later, the debate continues as to whether Grease is overtly sexist due to its ending in which the girls change to please the boy, or overtly feminist due to its brash female characters and rejection of puritanical sexual mores. To judge by Paramount+' s Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies , there will be no equivalent discussion of his visionary stance. The prequel aims to combat the sexism and racism that plagued the 1950s, and apparently also offers infectious tunes, likable characters, and cute teen love stories.
The series does some of that. An expression of the ideals of social justice , Rise of the Pink Ladies walks on uneven ground; As a musical, it's disappointingly forgettable. But as a tale of the joys of teenage friendship and first love, it's engaging enough to make up for shortcomings in other areas.
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Set four years before the events of the original Grease , Rise of the Pink Ladies serves as the origin story for the badass girl group that gave the series its name. The de facto leader is Jane (Marissa Davila), who begins the 1954-55 school year as a bespectacled, Sandy-style good girl, though her main boyfriend Buddy (Jason Schmidt) first complains to us. In contrast to Sandy's chaste sigh about a man "kind and hold my hand."
But when a malicious rumor ruins her reputation, Jane finds herself on the outskirts of Rydell High's high life, where she meets a new group of misfits: Olivia (Cheyenne Isabelle Wells), a quick-witted romantic dubbed Schoolgirl. **; Cynthia (Ari Notartomaso), a down-to-earth tomboy aspiring to join the T-Birds; and Nancy (Trisha Fukuhara), a flamboyant fashion designer tired of her classmates' obsession with dating.
With his encouragement, Jane launches a campaign for class president against her current classmate, which quickly leads to an intensified power struggle between the attractive grassroots community she represents and the larger coalition of fat dramas, nerds, idiots, and other misfits that Jane represents. .
It's a universally appealing premise, at least if you're a fan of upbeat musicals about the mix of high school bands and the resulting turmoil of teenage hierarchies: a la Hairspray , High School Musical , Glee and, of course, the original Grease . . . . And Rise of the Pink Ladies' love for their parents shines loud and clear in the premiere, which pays homage to classic songs like "Greased Lightning" and "Beauty School Dropout" as well as brief performances of smaller versions of one or two. family members have thick characters .
Unfortunately, the wheels on the song and dance front start to loosen early. Rise of the Pink Ladies has some noteworthy numbers, including a chorus of moms singing electrical appliances at the start of episode two, and a gentle love song by two quirky characters against an old Hollywood backdrop in episode five.
But the vast majority of the songs are unimpressive, despite the overflowing enthusiasm and unquestioning professionalism of the show's huge cast. The musical numbers are more like a seat cushion than anything special to enjoy. With at least three of the five episodes presented to critics (a ten-episode season), the hour-long screenings feel too messy.
The series also juggles its own politics. Her brand of female empowerment is simplistic but mostly satisfying, with stories and issues that deal with the hypocrisy of shame and the double standards of the dress code. But with gender, the situation is more ambiguous.
The first two episodes of Rise of the Pink Ladies are set in 1950s colorblind America. It wasn't until the third episode that the show acknowledged that with the introduction of Hazel (Shenel Bailey), that wasn't the case. Coming from a predominantly black community, she is the first to point out that some students might not like the idea of prom at a social club that only accepted Italians five years ago. Meanwhile, some white characters are seriously struggling with their unexamined preconceived notions. The heart of the show may be in the right place, but his shyness comes across as awkward at best and cowardly at worst.
However, Rise of the Pink Ladies comes to the point where it matters the most, and despite its shortcomings, I was more captivated by the third or fourth installment. Sharing its sassy sense of humor with its predecessor, the series gleefully parses everything from mid-century cooking ("It looks like cake, but it's meat," a party animal gasps after trying something called a Ribbon Loaf) to Romeo and Juliet ("stupid moral story of two mischievous teenagers. The punishment is death,” the haughty drama teacher snorts.)
As regular characters in Comic Relief, Fukuhara applauds Nancy's deadpan oddity, while Notartomasu shows off the obvious time with a series of jokes, many directed at the Deputy Director (Jackie Hoffman).
More importantly, Good Times draws on the genuine warmth and sympathy of the young characters. Olivia, Nancy, Cynthia, and Jane may feel trapped in the stereotypes they've been burdened with, but "Rise of the Pink Ladies" encourages each of them to be something more: deceive Cynthia to show the more vulnerable side of a budding young woman. . . Actress; the flawless Jane who sets Richie (Jonathan Neaves) in motion; for prickly outcast Olivia to discover the cause of her inner explosion.
What started out as a group of near-strangers, the only thing they had in common was their outward status, had grown into a network of true friendships, reinforced by empty talk during sleepovers and elaborate schemes for revenge.
Who said kids are king of sweaters? Cynthia sings at the end of the premiere. At the end of the second episode, the question turns into an explanation as the Pink Ladies stroll through the hallways of Rydell in matching outerwear. At the moment there is no singing, dancing, loud talk about social ills or Riddle's revolutionary potential, which is a good thing. This show does it best: celebrates the strength and joy that comes when you're part of a really big group of friends.
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