As we’ve alluded to a few times, I’m not easily embarrassed. Much to Cammy’s chagrin. I’d like to say I’m like Barney Stinson and have an awesome gland where my shame gland should be, but in reality it’s more like I have a very small shame gland which was unable to develop properly due to my enlarged attention whore gland. So there’s not a lot of guilt involved in most of my guilty pleasures. I will tell anyone who wants to know about my soap opera addiction. I’m open about my love for Degrassi. But there are some things even I hesitate to admit to watching. Like Make It Or Break It, for example. I’m not going to deny that I watch it, and clearly I’m telling the entire internet, but I’m not ever going to bring it up in conversation.
Let’s start by getting one thing clear: It’s not a good show. It’s not even a mediocre show. I mean, in many ways, it’s truly awful. The fact that it comes on ABC Family probably tells you a lot. But I can’t stop watching it!
It’s really not that difficult to figure out why I would watch it. I’m a huge fan of gymnastics; it is, to my knowledge, the only show out there about gymnastics. I also enjoy teen angst. And what this show is really about is teen angst. Win-win. Sorta.
The show follows the adventures of a quartet of elite gymnasts as they train and compete and experience the hell known as adolescence. We have Scrappy!Emily, the daughter of a ne’er do well nail technician who also has a wheel chair bound brother. Her family has no money and she doesn’t feel like she belongs in an elite gym. Then there’s Bitchy!Lauren from a broken home, poor little rich girl type. Super competitive in and out of the gym. Not above endangering a fellow gymnast’s life by tampering with the vault or sleeping with her friend’s boyfriend. Then we have Payson who simultaneously manages to be bad ass and boring which is a clear indication how talented she is. She traded in a personality for work ethic. Last but not least, Sparkly!Kaylie, whose ex-athlete father is more interested in finding endorsements to parenting and whose mother is more interested in banging the coach. But she’s cute and has something approaching a personality.
And wackiness ensues!
Wackiness that is generally predictable and yet horribly addictive.
Okay, the first glaring problem with the show is honestly one I will concede them: though the characters are supposed to be some of the top gymnasts in the world, the skills we see them doing are somewhat less than world class. Though this impacts the realism of the show, there are only a handful of women in the world who can actually do world class gymnastics and most of them are too busy being world class gymnasts to have time to do stunt work for an angsty television show.
Then there’s the soap opera problem of nothing having lasting consequences. Lauren leaves the gym and comes back. Carter gets kicked out of the gym but comes back. Lauren and Kaylie end their friendship over Carter, but they all bond in the end. I might have been distraught when Payson fell off the bars at Nationals, injuring her spine so that she’d never be able to do gymnastics again. If I thought it would actually stick. Sure enough, Counselor Troi showed up and performed a revolutionary surgery, leaving her good as new. (Incidentally, would you let Counselor Troi operate on your child? Because I wouldn’t.)
The bigger problem is that they fail to make the characters sympathetic. Every male under 25 who enters the show seems to fall for Emily, despite her lack of curves, brain and backbone. And the fact that I want to smack her at least half the time. Payson was at her least annoying while handicapped and they fixed that. Lauren is fun with her crazed bitchiness, but at best is the type you love to hate. There are moments when I like Kaylie, but then I remember she was that obnoxious girl I hated in high school.
All this said? I’m totally going to be watching the season premiere on Monday (or perhaps whenever they get the episode online since I’ll be working during the initial broadcast). Because I may not want to, but I eat it all up. It’s like that can of cream cheese icing in the back of the fridge. You know that there is nothing to be gained by eating a big old spoonful of it, but that won’t stop you.