Blood, pain, betrayal, drugs, heartbreak, drinking, sex, power, glitter. A lot of shows about teenagers today have all of these elements at play, as more and more TV producers and writers choose to portray the dark, sometimes-realistic-sometimes-not side of being a teenager onscreen – Euphoria being the most recent example of this. But Dare Me, though it has some of the same ingredients, presents a very different result by choosing to have a narrower focus on its female relationships, filled with obsession and manipulation.
Based on the novel of the same name by Meghan Abbot, who is also screenwriter and showrunner for the series, Dare Me follows cheerleaders Addy Hanlon (Herizen F. Guardiola) and her best friend Beth Cassidy (Marlo Kelly), whose already fraught relationship starts to fall apart once the new squad coach, Colette French (Willa Fitzgerald), arrives and shakes up the High School´s power dynamic. The show gives every single character, even the most minor ones, a complex set of characteristics that makes everyone feel fresh and real. Fellow cheerleader Riri (Taveeta Szymanowicz) and Beth´s sister Tacy (Alison Thorton) are a delight every time they interact with one of the main characters.
Maybe it´s because the writing allows its women to be nasty, angry, vindictive, and still be empathetic to the viewer (something the media in general still has a problem doing), or maybe it’s the camera, never afraid to get as close as possible to the actors, showing makeup smudges and bruises with the same amount of care and intimacy. But this show pulls you in and doesn´t want you to stop watching, much less when it inevitably ends up with someone being murdered.
The series has not yet been renewed for a second season, but judging from the way it´s first season ended, and the fact that all 10 episodes are now available on Netflix in full binge-able glory, probably indicate a positive future for Dare Me.
Words by Gio Chiconelli