Everyone is looking for the next big teen drama while Euphoria is on a break between seasons, and Netflix delivered. The USA network dropped “Dare Me” after one season, but fans are already rallying behind the show and calling for a second season after it shot to #6 worldwide on Netflix in January. The teen noir drama, based on a book of the same name by Megan Abbott, follows two best friends, Beth Cassidy and Addy Hanlon, and the pathway of their high school cheerleading team upon the arrival of new coach Colette French. Full warning: many spoilers for “Dare Me” Season 1 are ahead, but if you’re ready, let’s dive into the review.
First, I find it necessary to point out that other than the fact that the show is visually stunning in general, what really makes it phenomenal is the accuracy to the novel! Having Abbott on the writing and production team really cemented some of the iconic scenes, lines and plot points that make the novel so gutting in the first place. This is pleasing to fans of the original work, and new ones who might be interested in reading it after watching the show. The way the USA network adapted “Dare Me” was satisfying cinematically and script-wise because Abbott was a creator. The dialogue in the book is snappy and so quick that you can’t help but visualize teenagers going through those situations, building friendships, and engaging in banter because it simply feels real. That’s what makes a hit on the screen. From a marketing and releasing standpoint, Netflix has mastered the art of timing and taking over production on teen media; the plot of a great story + a ton of Netflix promo + efficient casting ensures the show some major traction within its audience.
Second, the plot speaks for itself. Throughout the 10 episodes of Season 1, the audience gets glimpses of a bloody crime scene, monologues from Addy describing shadowy darkness that haunts teenage girls, and visual displays with an unsettling tone. While watching, we know something is very wrong, and the season paces the unraveling of the ultimate mystery deliciously. By the end of the season, the viewer realizes that Colette’s affair with a military sergeant ended in his murder (rather than the believed suicide) by the hand of Colette’s husband- that Addy helped cover up. Addy and Colette’s relationship is tense and a bit too personal, which causes strain between Addy and Beth where lines are already blurring between friendship and romance.
This leads me to my last thoughts on the series: the dynamic characters. One standout is Beth Cassidy, played by Marlo Kelly in the first of many sure-to-be breakout roles. Beth’s brazen nature and the fact that she is so flawed, mean, and hopelessly messed up is part of her allure! She doesn’t change, even in her vulnerable moments and after devastating losses. It’s what makes her so compelling and what makes her an interesting opposite to Addy, the ultimate good girl-next-door trope. The fact that Addy’s actress is Black, whereas in the book she was a white character, is interesting to see as well, and elevates her progression as an individual. The suspense and dramatic climax of the show leaves many loose ends open for the much-needed second season.
Will you be streaming it soon?
By Leah Ollie, Senior, Whitney Young Magnet High School