Netflix’s reboot is polished but promising

wwhen Netflix went down the trailer for the reboot of the 1990s Australian teen drama High heartbreak last month, most of the comments could be summed up in two words: Rack off.

Aside from Sydney’s accents, slang and background, little seemed to differentiate Hartley High’s return from the streamer’s teenage hits, notably, as the comments pointed out, Sex education And I have never. They were right: the trailer shows clumsy but handsome high schoolers trying to juggle the social ladder as teachers introduce an emergency sex education class to deal with a scandal, set in a vibrant world where even extras dress up in the main character style. . It’s a little too familiar.

Thankfully the trailer flattens the show, which by and large fulfills the then radical premise of the original – showing a wide range of Australian teens as they grow up and deal with issues of class, race, gender and more – and gives it a 2022 update. Unfortunately, in three episodes, the glossy, generic Netflixication already suffocates the unique High heartbreak: dry Australian humor, a talented cast and fresh perspectives.

Heartbreak High Season 1
Josh Heuston in ‘The Broken Heart’. Credit: Elise Lockwood / Netflix

Where the original seven-season show was celebrated and adored internationally for a raw intensity that grounded even the most soap opera plot points, the reboot is all too curated and considered to let anything settle. Her pop culture references can be overworked (think embarrassing jokes like “what in Kid’s Helpline?” To a character calling another Sia because of her condescending attitude towards autistic people) and the arc of the season around a mural that traces every hook of the year 11-up, saw and more feels frustratingly focused.

That “incest map”, as it is called everywhere, was created by our guide Amerie (Ayesha Madon), who is eager to finally climb the social ladder by entering the first day of year 11 at Hartley High, but the mural shows her. quickly makes a social pariah, as everyone named in it is forced to take an extracurricular sex education course.

The non-original setting – complete with a “mysterious” split with BFFL Harper (Asher Yasbincek) – continually interrupts the flow of more interesting and thoughtful scenes. It’s frustrating, like teenagers of High heartbreak they embody a diversity that is still rarely seen on Australian TV: most of the 11 main characters are queer and most of them are people of color, including two First Nations characters. So far, the show lets each character breathe without weighing it down with just identity plots.

Part of this can be attributed to creator Hannah Carroll Chapman (The heights) opening. The three protagonists (Madon, comrade Fangirl cast member James Majoos, TikTok star and autism advocate Chloé Hayden) were cast before a script was written and their roles were formulated around them. This is particularly seen with Hayden’s character Quinni, who is also autistic. In the pilot, Quinni initially remembers the maniacal dream girls of the elves Garden state or Skinsbut a complexity experienced for the character unfolds without excessive explanations.

Heartbreak High Season 1
Will McDonald in ‘Heartbreak High’. Credit: Lisa Tomasetti / Netflix

There are other uncommon Australian stories. Away from home Graduate Will McDonald is a highlight as Ca $ H, an eshay drug dealer who, despite the clichés of a guy falling into the wrong crowd, delivers some of the show’s most ingrained scenes. Looking at these moments, High heartbreak it looks like it could be as zeitgeisty as the original and could kickstart as many careers.

Unfortunately, the stereotypical “incest map” plot sticks out awkwardly, as if it were a plot retrieved from Sex education cut plan, as if Netflix didn’t have enough faith in the show’s ability to gain ground on its own merits and meet Australian teens where they are. But perhaps when her handsome cast and gimmicky hook has drawn audiences in, Season 2 will be able to hone its natural appeal. For now, there’s enough to shine to make a binge worthwhile.

READ ALSO :   10 best shows to watch like Netflix's Heartbreak High

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