Keen to construct up its streaming service past the Taylor Sheridan and Star Trek universes, Paramount+ is popping to a traditional for its newest authentic collection. Grease: Rise of the Pink Girls imagines what Rydell Excessive appeared like earlier than Sandy and Danny’s romance swept by way of the college, and within the eyes of creator Annabel Oakes, it is the birthplace of radical concepts (for the Fifties) and rollicking dance numbers. In some methods, the prequel collection captures the spirit of the unique Grease, although its extra progressive storylines and casting selections make its positioning within the franchise’s timeline a bit odd. Grease: Rise of the Pink Girls would not fairly justify its existence, however these prepared to provide it a attempt will probably be rewarded with an entertaining journey.
Opening simply as the autumn 1954 semester will get underway, Grease: Rise of the Pink Girls zeroes in on a quartet of ladies stung by the patriarchal nature of Rydell. Good pupil Jane (Marisa Davila) has desires of scoring a spot on the scholar council alongside her Soc boyfriend Buddy (Jason Schmidt), however her plans are derailed when phrase will get out the 2 went all the way in which in Buddy’s automotive — besides they did not. Olivia (Cheyenne Isabel Wells) is ostracized as a result of a rumored fling between herself and a Rydell trainer, whereas fashion-forward Nancy (Tricia Fukuhara) will get dumped by her buddies after they get boyfriends. Lastly, Cynthia (Ari Notartomaso) needs nothing greater than to be a T-Chook, however the boys within the group refuse to let a woman into their ranks. Fed up with the social constructs that mock and demean them, the 4 unlikely buddies group as much as change the college and type its most infamous “lady gang.”
Grease: Rise of the Pink Girls would not waste a lot time establishing its connection to the unique movie. From an impressively staged rendition of the music “Grease” on the identical drive-in Sandy stranded Danny to cameos from two characters from the film itself (right here, they’re in center college), episode 1 firmly vegetation the prequel in Grease‘s musical world. As soon as the pilot concludes, Rise of the Pink Girls strives to create its personal id, although the mannerisms of the ensemble forged, sure characters and dynamics, and the presence of Assistant Principal McGee (performed right here by a hilariously droll Jackie Hoffman) evoke emotions of the unique with out always planting Easter eggs. Rise of the Pink Girls might’ve simply develop into a remake of Grease‘s largest moments, however Oakes properly paints a much bigger image of Rydell.
Nevertheless, that does not come with out some distinctive challenges. It is arduous to not discover how the Rydell of 1954 is by some means extra vibrant and various than the Rydell of 1958. That is the results of Rise of the Pink Girls being created in 2023, to make certain, nevertheless it does make a Grease prequel appear to be an odd determination. Rise of the Pink Girls is a busy present, tackling themes of racism, sexism, slut-shaming, cliques, and teenage rebel generally all of sudden. With 4 episodes screened for this overview, it stays to be seen the way it will all come collectively, however the ball is rolling on quite a few storylines, a few of that are extra intriguing than others. For instance, a shocking friendship between Buddy and shy new lady Hazel (Shanel Bailey) makes for a candy dynamic (if one which additionally evokes ideas of Excessive Faculty Musical), whereas Nancy is the Pink Woman most under-served by the narrative, getting little shading to her character.
On one hand, which means that if one storyline or character doesn’t join, Grease: Rise of the Pink Girls has a number of others ready within the wings. It is a jam-packed present, which might be considerably detrimental to its general objectives. Oakes and the opposite writers have loads to say in regards to the oppressive values of the Fifties, although most of the factors are ones which have been introduced up by different exhibits and flicks. Grease: Rise of the Pink Girls is not saying something new about these points, although that is not essentially a foul factor; at this level, it is arduous not to attract comparability to earlier works. This then brings all of it again to the principle query of whether or not anybody was really clamoring for a Grease prequel.
Because it stands, although, Rise of the Pink Girls presents loads of enjoyment. The younger ensemble consists of a number of proficient performers, with Davila and Wells holding because the standouts to this point. They each get a number of show-stopping numbers that convey depth to their characters and provide the performers an opportunity to indicate off their skills. Although launched later, Bailey brings a candy vulnerability to Hazel, and Schmidt makes Buddy greater than a one-dimensional jock. Fukuhara excels at depicting Nancy’s dramatic mannerisms, and Notartomaso faucets into Cynthia’s hidden insecurities as skillfully as she nails her comedic aspect. That is solely scratching the floor of Grease: Rise of the Pink Girls‘ forged, which additionally consists of Johnathan Nieves because the Danny Zuko-esque Richie and Madison Thompson as “good” imply lady Susan.
Grease: Rise of the Pink Girls is a blatant try at constructing upon a beloved piece of IP, however at the least it’s making an attempt to create one thing new. There’s loads of appeal, humor, and coronary heart within the first 4 episodes, and choreographer Jamal Sims deserves particular credit score for bringing such power to the present’s many musical numbers. No matter whether or not it is a present that wanted to be made, Grease: Rise of the Pink Girls is an entertaining journey into Rydell’s previous, and one which deserves some credit score for dealing with thorny matters head on.
The primary two episodes of Grease: Rise of the Pink Girls start streaming on Paramount+ Thursday, April 6. The remaining eight episodes will probably be launched weekly.
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