A New Coach
Dare Me is the latest USA Network Original, beginning this Sunday (29th December) and it gets off to a pretty good start with its opening episode. Combining the stylish cues from shows like Euphoria with a deliciously dark and twisted storyline to boot, Dare Me feels like it could be one of the bigger surprises going into 2020 but right now it’s far too early to make that assumption. For now though, Dare Me sets the foundations nicely for a dark thriller to follow.
We begin with a car crawling down a road as our protagonist, Addy, narrates about cheerleading until mentioning things went too far. We then cut back three months earlier to find Addy and her best friend Beth living the high life and drinking together. The team have a new coach in Colette French and as we cut to cheerleading practice, Colette walks purposefully between the different girls, pushing them to their limits. She tells them she doesn’t see a top girl among them nor does she see a united squad. After giving them some further critiques, the squad break for now and head home.
Beth snubs her Father who offers her a ride and instead pleads with Addy to stay after school. She refuses though, eventually receiving a lift from her Mum, who happens to be a police officer. Here, we learn a little more about Beth and her background. Cheerleading practice continue the next day and the team continue to perform their moves, with Colette breaking up the normal routine by selecting a different girl to place at the top of the human pyramid, who fails and hits her head hard on the way back down.
Addy speaks to Colette soon after about Beth and warns her. However she shrugs off the warnings and tells Addy that the girl need limits. On the way home, Addy and Beth continue to discuss their new coach and her influence on the team. On their way, they stop outside her house and see her family set-up, including a baby and her partner Matt.
The next day at school, Colette sees Addy practicing her back-flips and lends a helping hand. She drives her home after and the two start to grow closer, connecting and understanding one another better. At the same time, we also see a little more about Beth and her fractured family life, learning just why she acts the way she does.
This leads us nicely to the cheerleaders rallying the crowd up during a big game but with Beth missing and another distracted by someone in the crowd, it’s far from a stellar performance. Colette huddles them up and gives the girls some words of encouragement. Beth finally shows up and as she does, Colette strips her of the Captaincy and chooses a different girl for the star-role.
It’s a tense performance, but one they manage to pull off despite Beth’s glaring looks at Addy throughout the performance. Afterward, Colette enjoys drinks in the neon-lit bar where the other teachers lavish praise on her before addressing the room and telling them the plans they have to build a new stadium. Matt happens to be the new Project Manager for this too and the situation gets pretty awkward when he learns a secret about one of the teachers.
A drunk Beth meanwhile goes crazy at an impromptu party in the woods and fires a gun blindly into the air before pointing it at Addy, questioning her friend’s loyalty. After a tense showdown, Beth puts the gun down and Addy takes her home, telling her everything’s changing. Unfortunately, Beth left her phone and as she heads back to the party to grab it, they see car headlights in the distance. As they approach, they find Colette inside having sex with someone other than her husband. Beth, as it turns out, filmed the entire thing and as she runs off, the episode ends.
Well that was an unexpected twist! I have to admit, the cryptic trailer sold me on the premise and going into this I had no idea what to expect. Thankfully, Dare Me is a pleasant surprise, although it does share more than a few stylistic similarities to HBO’s teen drama Euphoria. Between the eclectic soundtrack and clever sound mixing, Dare Me peppers in an intriguing story and the beginning triangle of conflicts sitting at the heart of this one promises to be the fuel to keep this dramatic fire burning.
Having not read the book I can’t comment on how accurate this is to the source material but right now, Dare Me gets off to a good start and this is one show you’re probably going to return to when USA Network drops the next episode in 2020!