What I thought about: Dare Me

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.

Coach Collette and Lieutenant Addy being rather confrontational – I wonder what changed?

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?


What I thought about: Too Hot to Handle

This ain’t no Love Island. Problematically short, lacking in depth and character, and full of fake tension, this Netflix dating/self-fulfilment hybrid is a cute but ultimately disappointing competitor to the UK’s favourite reality show.

The guy on the right is a MASSIVE twat.

What’s it about?
Five guys and five girls (all of them ridiculously horny) land at a beach side resort, ostensibly with the intention of pairing up and having flings with each other, with some kind of ‘winner’ taking home a $100,000 cash prize. But there’s a twist – throughout the resort, their activities are being monitored by LANA, a talking lava lamp. LANA wants the participants to form deeper emotional connections rather than commence a shag-fest, so it will deduct money from the prize fund if anyone has any kind of sexual contact (in my Jeremy Kyle voice, that’s anything from a kiss to intercourse).

What do I like about it?
There are two tenements to the show that actually are interesting.

Firstly, the participants are made up of people from multiple places – The US, UK, Canada, and Australia. There’s a particularly satisfying cultural difference between UK and US dialects that can be fun at times – such as Bryce trying to get to grips with the concept of a ‘geezer’, or basically anything else Chloe says.

Secondly, the show features four sort of personal development classes that the participants are forced to do – two mixed, one for guys and one for girls. You might dismiss the courses as hippy dippy nonsense, but the participants genuinely seem to have gotten something out of them each time, especially the single-sex ones (perhaps they feel more able to show vulnerability in the absence of the opposite sex?)

What do I not like about it?
Unfortunately, save for the interesting stuff above, everything else about the show is lacking any depth whatsoever. Many of the participants are criminally under-utilised. The show tries to do the whole ‘bombshell extra participants’ staple of Love Island but they just don’t manage to pull it off in the same way.

The AI gimmick was super lame. It’s obviously a real human voice, it doesn’t look particularly good, and it clashes entirely with the rest of the show (we only see a phone on screen once, and all the classes emphasise being driven by nature). It’s also way less suspenseful than even the lame text-fest that takes place around the fire pit in Love Island.

Worth a watch?
Not really, unless you want to see a little bit of reality drama (some of the characters are truly bitchy) and you’re desperate for something to tide you over until whenever Love Island manages to come back.

By the way…

  • I’m convinced one of the relationships is put on for show in order to boost their respective Instagram influencer cred.
  • It’s comprised of 8x 30-45 minute long episodes, so I feel it’s far too short to get to know any of the participants properly.