Wednesday, August 8, 2012

TV review: Dance Academy (Season 1)

Genre: Drama, Teen, Australian TV shows, TV-14
Channel: ABC [Australia]
Aired: May 31st, 2010
Rating: 5 stars
Summary: Dance Academy features Tara Webster (Xenia Goodwin), a new student at Australia's National Academy of Dance. The show presents the students at the Academy learning the intricacies of ballet and dance, and is primarily shown from Tara's perspective, along with fellow first year students Kat Karamakov (Alicia Banit), Abigail Armstrong (Dena Kaplan), Sammy Lieberman (Tom Green), Christian Reed (Jordan Rodrigues), and third year student Ethan Karamakov (Tim Pocock).
Tara is what people would call a country gal. When she arrives in Sydney for her dance audition, she does anything but fit in. Upon arrival she’s promptly pointed in the direction of what she thought was the girls’ locker room, but was really the guys’ locker room. There she runs into Christian, whose criminal background as landed him in the Academy as a sort of rehab. Christian, surprised to find a girl stripping down in the guy’s locker room, dubs Tara “Training Bra.” This infamous title followers her throughout season one. Luckily, she makes more friends once she finds her way out of the dressing room (shirt on inside out). These friends include rebel girl Kat Karamakov, awkward Sammy Lieberman, and hottie Ethan Karamakov. She also makes enemies with none other than her snarky roomie, Abigail, whose life revolves around all things dance (and only dance). The series takes us on Tara’s journey as she struggles through the rigorous life at the Academy and all the trials that come along with friends, boys, and life in general.
Dance Academy was just one of those shows I stumbles upon while browsing through the titles on Netflix. Every once in a blue moon, I’ll get the urge to become addicted to a tv show, and when that happens, there’s no way I’ll get much reading done for at least the next week. I wasn’t expecting much out of Dance Academy- in fact, I wasn’t even expecting to like it. But soon I found myself watching one short 20-minute episode after the next, and then I knew I was addicted.
I’m not sure what exactly it was that drew me in. To be honest, I didn’t like Tara at first. It took me the whole season to start tolerating her. The thing that irritated me about her was her talent at looking ridiculous. She wasn’t modest about her feelings- she wore her heart on her sleeve. When Tara developed a crush on Ethan (Sorry, spoiler!), she instantly felt that her friends should know and care, for some reason. It didn’t take long for the whole stinking Academy to find out that first-year Tara Webster was secretly slobbering all over third-year Ethan Karamakov. The way she handled herself in situations was just embarrassing. It was like she had no dignity or pride to uphold at all- she acted like her reputation was something she didn’t care throwing out the window. It wasn’t until towards the end of season one that I started realizing that maybe the way Tara acted wasn’t a bad thing at all. She didn’t care what people thought of her. She didn’t have any secrets- everyone knew everything about what she was feeling all the time, and though people might not care, at least they knew. There weren’t any barriers. They didn’t have to pry to get to know her. She was open and indifferent to people’s opinions and…real.
So, just as a warning, if you start watching Dance Academy, Tara might get on your nerves like she did mine. Or she might now. But if she does, just know that it gets better. She isn’t always that ridiculous. She gains some dignity throughout the season, and you begin to like her openness. It’s refreshing to have a main character like that.
[Some spoilers in the next paragraph]
That was really my only qualm about the show. There are a couple other things I didn’t like, such as the flip-flop way that Tara dates the boys at the Academy (one minutes it’s him…now it’s someone else…then back to the first guy…) and then I wasn’t too thrilled when Sammy questions his sexuality at the end of the season (hope nothing comes of that, or I might consider dropping the show), but nothing too awful enough for me to stop watching.
Now, the things I did like about the show were numerous. I liked the dancing, for one thing. After reading and enjoying Bunheads (see my review here) I started looking for other books/movies that had to do with the ins and outs of the ballet industry. This is just the show for people who want to learn more or like that sort of thing. I also loved the Australian accents. *grin* I loved Ethan and Christian and Kat, and getting to know their backstories and lives. Abigail was a fun character too, even though she was mean (the kind of mean that borders on evil and malicious). I like all the characters’ relationships with each other, and yes, I liked the romance. It was sweet and girly, if sporadic and fickle.
I was so surprised at how much I loved this show. Every night, instead of reading (yeah, I feel the guilt coming on) I would pull out my laptop and watch several episodes of Dance Academy. It still took me awhile to get through season one, though, because there’s a good 26 or so episodes. When I finally finished season one, I thought I had my life back. I thought I could read again at night without the irresistible urge to watch DA. But no. The despicable people at Netflix added season two the day (I’m kid you not- the very day) I finished season one. There my life went, out the window again. So I’m currently struggling to fit in a few episodes of season two each night along with sufficient time to read the books that keep piling up beside my nightstand.
In conclusion, then, I highly recommend Dance Academy. It’s very entertaining and captivating (if you didn’t get the gist from the last paragraph) and perfect for anyone who’s looking for a foreign show, a teen show, or a dance show. Or all three. You pick. *wink*
Quick Content Review: [contains spoilers]
Language: None that I can remember.
Violence: None. (Two boys run from the police after they rob a service station, or “servo,” as they like to call it.)
Sexual: Mild- Moderate [Tara kisses Ethan. Tara kisses Christian. Tara almost kisses Sammy. Somehow, Tara’s not slutty, but she still ends up kissing a good deal of boys. Kat has several boyfriends who kiss her. One tries to take advantage of her before Christian intercedes. Sammy and Abigail date for a while, and want to “take it to the next level.” Sammy consults Christian on “logistics.” (Count on Sammy to make things weird.) Sammy and Abigail end up not doing anything, though (phew). It’s hard to list everything- since this was a teen show, it does focus a lot on dating and such (I guess Australian tv shows aren’t any different than American tv shows). Nothing too bad happens, though. Like I said in the review, Sammy does question his sexuality towards the end of season one, but he ends up dating girls in season two.]

1 comment :

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