Here’s why we like the teen gymnastics show:
1) Make It Or Break It has actual substance and life lessons. We would seriously make our teenage girls watch this show, if we had them. There are lots of good, but not cheesy, plotlines about perseverance, honor, honesty, loyalty, leading, the obsession with success, the struggle for perfection, and self-respect. Example: Payson realizing that there is more to life than gymnastics and that she should keep trying and dreaming, even without her sports career.
2) On this show, as soon as someone does something wrong or has a secret, our first thought is, “It will be interesting when that comes out.” Because it always does on this show, more often than on other shows. But this “truth always comes out” mentality that the show fosters in its viewers is realistic. It is best to fess up, in your own time, rather than have someone like Lauren Tanner tell someone first…and make it sound worse than it is.
3) The tension can be horrifyingly thick for a teen soap. You really care, and during competitions, you are on the edge of your seat.
4) The villains. Lauren Tanner, a gymnast, is the most infuriating villain we have ever seen. She’s more evil than just about anyone we’ve ever seen on TV, followed closely by gymnastics big shot Ellen Beals. But sometimes the baddies are sympathetic. Within two episodes, you will be screaming at the screen at Lauren, desiring her slow death, but the next episode will have you tearing up on her behalf. Most shows with sympathetic villains don’t let them do truly unforgivable things. Not so with Lauren. She goes too far, all the time. And we love to hate her. You understand why she does what she does, but what she does is SO bad. We really can’t think of many characters more horrible and backstabbing than this girl…and it creates a lot of drama.
5) Like most teen shows these days, the show gave one of the girls a crush on her teacher. When looking at the fan sites, we saw that the teen girls, after watching the episode where the young gymnast kissed her coach (that ended on that cliffhanger), just assumed that the romantic relationship was on. They started debating the two as a couple. Rather than having him reciprocate and make the audience root for an abuse of power, the show had him react correctly and he even smoothed over the awkwardness with the student, restoring their working relationship. Aaaand that’s how it’s done, LUX and Pretty Little Liars.
6) Let’s get real here: Most Christians on TV or in movies are either simple, childlike, African-American angels or white, holier-than-thou monsters. We think that’s a little weird and racist toward both groups, but it goes overlooked most of the time. And those who practice abstinence are mocked and painted as having unrealistic views of how things work. We don’t think that’s fair. So it’s refreshing to see this show has an abstinent, white, kind, Christian adult woman. We kept waiting for her to turn into a two-faced stereotype, but she never did.
7) The gymnastics is fun to watch.
8) Cute boys, good parents, and lots of the men who are really good guys who respect the women on the show and act unselfishly, killing off yet another stereotype for young viewers.
9) The show’s tone is fast-paced, but its relationships aren’t. This isn’t like Glee where Finn breaks up with someone eight times a season. The couples stay together a while and take a while to get together.
Is this show immune to mockery? Absolutely not. In fact, we look forward to mocking it next season when we start covering it more often. Is it a work of art? No. Is it soapy? Oh yes. For instance, we both HATED the pregnancy storyline and we hope it ends soon. The best way to handle that on a show like this is to just have the girl miscarry. Can’t that happen, already? Leeard is upset that the show had her, a Catholic, kind of rooting for an abortion. Also, a lot of the twists and lines are incredibly predictable. And too many bad things happen on the show. If something can go wrong, it will, and it’s a little like watching that movie The Pursuit of Happyness. It’s mostly pursuit with little happiness. But it makes the happy moments all the more rewarding. In short, we recommend this show to teens, gymnasts, and young women, and maybe even their moms if they want to watch it with them. It’s a fun show, with more genuine drama than Gossip Girl and 90210 combined.
Finale Grade: B
Season Two Grade: B+
Season One Grade: A