Upon reflection, I’ve re-written this review. Dare Me is a confusing mess of teenage angst and suffering, but its redeeming features help make it bingeable, and I wonder if I’m just missing something about the plot.
What’s it about?
Beth is captain of her school’s cheerleading squad, assisted by best friend and ‘lieutenant’, Addy, who loosely narrates the story. The squad’s new coach, Collette, dethrones Beth immediately (‘there are no captains in my squad’) and begins treating Beth’s half-sister, Tacy, with more than a little favouritism.
Addy wants a scholarship, and cheer squad is her path to it. She cosies up to Collette in the hopes of being guided to success, but it comes at the cost of alienating Beth. And then stuff gets really… weird. Collette seems to revel in the rift she is creating between Beth and Addy. She’s also using Addy to help her cheat on her husband.
What do I like about it?
The cast are very good. Beth, emotionally damaged by her adulterous father leaving her mother for a woman who literally lives across the street, harshly bullies Tacy (who sort of deserves it) and battles more than a few personal demons throughout the series. These emotions are captured brilliantly by actress Marlo Kelly.
Collette, played by Willa Fitzgerald, is a perfectly balanced mix of sweet and sour – she’s cute on secretive dates with her high-school flame, but puts on a ‘tough love’ attitude with the squad. She’s also, as we eventually discover, quite sinister.
The colourists have also done an excellent job, utilising the High Dynamic Range (HDR) format well and making the gritty scenes look, well, gritty.
What do I not like about it?
In one scene, Addy goes inside Collette’s house for the first time and she… strokes the bedsheets (‘1000 ply cotton’, Collette says) and lays down in the bed? Is it supposed to symbolise the ‘success’ that she too can achieve, if she follows in Collette’s footsteps?
There’s a lot about the plot which just seems quite weird and off-putting. You wonder why the characters are doing what they’re doing. But maybe that’s what the show is going for? We’re seeing into the destructive world of a teenage cheerleading squad, maybe that’s just how they are?
Worth a watch?
I was underwhelmed by the confusing nature of the plot and the disappointing ending, but I’ve reconsidered my earlier review in which I described it as ‘ten hours of my life I’m not getting back’.
By the way…
- The show is based on a book that has a 3/5 rating on Amazon. That should serve as warning…
- The show was cancelled by USA Network for poor ratings, despite receiving critical acclaim. The book’s author says the first season only got though half of it, so watch this space?