Wednesday, December 18, 2019

REVIEW: 'Soundtrack' - Joanna Faces Near Constant Rejection at Every Dance Audition in 'Track 2: Joanna and Nellie'

Netflix's Soundtrack - Episode 1.02 "Track 2: Joanna and Nellie"

Nellie takes a swing at spontaneous romance. Joanna reconsiders the minor perks - and major pitfalls - of chasing passion. 

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of Netflix's Soundtrack.

"Track 2: Joanna and Nellie" was written by Beth Schacter and directed by Karen Gaviola

The premiere ended with the reveal that one story was happening in 2012 while the other was happening in 2020. The second episode spends the majority of its running time in 2012. It helps better flesh out the early days of romance between Nellie and Sam. It also sets out to offer the backstory for Joanna, who is clearly going to become a major pressure in Sam's life in 2020. The thematic connection is drawn by how these women are choosing to pursue their dreams. They each feel that they have a significant choice to make about how long they can sustain their lives like this. It's not focused too much on the financial strain of the characters. All of them are more than willing to take common, lackluster jobs just in order to earn some money. The narrative is much more focused on the passion they bring to their various artistic endeavors. It's about the bonds and joys they feel throughout that expressive community. It may come across as a fantasy at times. Yes, the narrative does burst into song on numerous occasions. However, the heart of the conflict is incredibly genuine. It's something that every person in a creative field may feel. How long can one chase this dream with no results to show for it? Nellie may have a luxury that others do not simply because her parents are wealthy. They can help her out. She enjoys a wealthy lifestyle and is a little too carefree about it. She doesn't see it as a problem to take Sam to an upscale restaurant for their second date. It may actually flaunt her privilege. But again, that's the point of the story. This episode wants Sam and Nellie to clash with one another. They don't get along. The only thing they can agree on is their raw sexual chemistry. That aspect of the relationship works. That may reflect the changing evolution of how people meet and connect nowadays. In the premiere, there was a serious conversation that was condemning the impersonal nature of the world and just how difficult it is to pursue a possible connection with someone when so much is built around a digital identity. And now, the show features Sam and Nellie regularly having sex and intimacy growing out of that. At first, they want to be emotionally detached. It's just something fun they can do. However, they eventually open up more and more. They actually reveal their dreams. It's because of this time together that they learn how to have a conversation and actually connect on a deeper level. Nellie is expressing more than just the same opinion as Sam's mother. Similarly, he encourages her to chase her dream because she is incredibly talented. He believes in her. That confidence is invigorating. It's what she needs in order to thrive especially when her mother just wants her to embrace a safe life of academia. That may be the financially stable option in the abstract. However, it's not an active choice on Nellie's part. That stands in sharp contrast to the decision that Joanna eventually makes. She goes to audition after audition in the hopes of booking a part as a dancer. She gets close a couple of times. But nothing truly goes her way. It's depressing because the audience can see that she is talented. The show cast Jenna Dewan in the role for a reason. Joanna is more than just a dancer though. She has a unique sense of empathy and compassion. She has a desire to reach out and help people even though it takes some time for her to actually hone that skill in a practical way. She may be personally devastated by dance until it no longer makes her happy. She isn't abandoning her dream for a safe option though. She is just choosing to pursue another interest of hers. The narrative reassures the audience that she makes a career out of this. In fact, it may be beneficial that she is the social worker handling Sam's case in 2020. She sees he is a great father and wants to keep this family together. That is special. Hopefully, it doesn't preventing Dewan from dancing in the future. That is a talent that should be expressed too and may easily be included because of the fantasy music performances in this world. That too is a profound theme in this series. Those who embrace art need the confidence to share it with the world and receive whatever feedback that it brings out of others. That can be both positive and negative. That's simply a part of the creative community.