Tuesday, December 15, 2020

REVIEW: 'Tiny Pretty Things' - The Dancers Unite Against Ramon's Heinous and Domineering Behavior in 'Dance Dance Revolution'

Netflix's Tiny Pretty Things - Episode 1.04 "Dance Dance Revolution"

Neveah urges the troupe to rise up against Ramon, while June battles her mother for emancipation. Bette tries a new tactic to score pills.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides 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 Tiny Pretty Things.

"Dance Dance Revolution" was written by Aiyana White and directed by Joanna Kerns

Dancers push their bodies to the limits. It's all in the name of making great art. And yet, it's perfect reasonably - necessary actually - for them to feel safe and protected in the spaces where they are cultivating those abilities. They can be pushed to the limit without being forced to the edge of their mental and physical capabilities. They are told to be grateful for all the opportunities they have. Those could all be taken away in an instant. They need to be able to speak up when any issue arises though. They need to be respected when they feel their safety is being put in jeopardy. They are taking on systemic institutions of abuse. Plus, they live in a space where a literal killer is on the loose. That increases the drama. All of this is potent and visceral narrative exploration of power dynamics. It features just how corrupt and abusive those can become. It's also sickening to watch. The show highlights the monstrosity. It's the vindictiveness that Ramon feels entitled to at every single moment. He isn't an acclaimed choreographer though. The critics agree that he has become formulaic and derivative. The dancer is the star of the show. Delia had to overcome the choreography that wanted to constantly show off in the hopes of amusing people. Moreover, the messages he hopes to provoke from his work come from his twisted world view of how people operate. He claims that he will respect the dancers when they raise these concerns if they actually earn it. He doesn't want them to move against him in the hopes of protecting themselves. He calls their bluff. He believes that they will be too terrified to challenge any authority. That's exactly what they need to do. They have no allies except each other. The administration only encourages these gross abuses of power. It's acceptable because they too are prone to these abuses. Madame Dubois has a sexual relationship with Caleb. She is committing statutory rape. She makes it seem as if this bond is some grand salvation for his life. The only way he can manage his grief over his father's death is the comfort that she can provide. It's much more enjoyable than the treatment the other students get. She is abusing him. She is taken advantage of someone entrusted to her care. She has no remorse either because she is a powerful person in society. She can get whatever she wants. The world bends to her will. This show finds the young ensemble challenging the people trying to dictate their lives. They may not fully understand the consequences all the time. Emancipation means that June will be all alone. She won't be able to rely on the money her mother provides. That too highlights just how vindictive and spiteful so many are in this world. None of the adults seem rational or care about the well-being of these children. Meanwhile, it's all played off as them being destructive because they are reckless teenagers. They need an iron fist to mold them into shape. And yet, Ramon throws a ball at Neveah. A mirror breaks. Madame Dubois believes that's okay since no one was injured. The threat of violence is just as indicative of an unsafe environment as the actual act. These dancers prey on each other. Ramon takes inspiration from that. However, he deduces that people are eager to victimize themselves and then use the darkness brought on by that insight to inflict damage on everyone in their worlds. It's how he reacts upon being challenged. He commits heinous acts all the time. He demeans and belittles the dancers. He believes that will make them incredible. Great art doesn't come from a necessity of tortured artists though. People can be compassionate and still do phenomenal things in the world. The show understands some of these concepts. However, it remains incredibly reluctant to actual depict the damage being done. It strangely wants to present both sides as being at fault. It only wants to embrace incremental change because it fundamentally needs the focus to be on the horrors of the institution of ballet. Meanwhile, the personal dynamics continue to shift at whim. No one can understand any action that takes place when it comes to romance. Those bonds should feel real and powerful. And yet, it all comes across as desperation. It's all forced drama in the name of making a statement. It's all completely muddled. It's with no consideration for genuine storytelling developments or the actual emotions that create well-rounded characters. It's barely a mission statement. Some of the ideas are genuinely compelling. The execution simply ensures that the powerful remain strong and controlling no matter who speaks up against them because the world is so full of chaos and complications. That scattered mindset only makes these issues more pronounced and lethal to the overall story engine.