Episode 1 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 2 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 3 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 4 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 5 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 6 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 7 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 8 – | Review Score – 3/5
Back in 2004, Mexico released a popular telenovela by the name of Rebelde. Stretching on for three seasons with 100+ episodes a pop, the misadventures of teens at a prominent private school captured the nation in a big way.
Fast forward to 2022 and in an age of endless sequels, reboots and spin-offs, it’s perhaps unsurprising to see a remake of Rebelde drop on Netflix. Capturing the essence of the original’s expansive story and spinning that into an 8 episode series was never going to be easy and in that respect, Rebelde does feel the weight of expectation at times.
However, If you’re looking for a heady blend of teen drama and music, Rebelde has enough in the tank to recommend, even if it does fall flat at times.
In its simplest form, Rebelde plays out as a mix of Glee, Elite and Control Z. The premise centers on kids attending Elite Way School, a prestigious establishment where only the best musicians thrive. With a lucrative prize of joining the Musical Excellence Program on the line, these teens are forced to team up and win the Battle of the Bands in order to secure a place at the elite table.
It’s a pretty simple set-up but one that’s made all the more complicated by the inclusion of a secret society known as The Lodge. This secretive hazing group have been around for a while and try to thwart our main characters every step of the way.
It’s a pretty goofy gimmick, if I’m being honest, and their motivations are never actually clear until the final episode, so expect to be in the dark over what’s happening here for large swathes of the run-time.
Thankfully the teen drama is enough to overlook that, with a distinctly soapy tone and simple but effective arcs for each of the kids. Some of the characters do get the short end of the stick – like Dixon who never quite establishes himself – while others like Luka are well rounded and have pretty deep personas.
Predictably, Rebelde is also trope city. There are so many clichés and obvious love triangles; little squabbles that raise the tension momentarily and are joined hand in hand by the usual misunderstanding betrayals. Normally I’d be quite critical of this (and I certainly have been on a few of the recaps) but given the material being adapted thrives on these sort of instances, it’s enough to overlook a little – even if some of the storylines feel a bit blasé.
Where the show is less successful however, is in its blending of music and teen drama. At times it feels awkwardly crowbarred into episodes, with one chapter in particular very noticeable. Within this episode, a competition takes place to create a music video. This sees several montages placed through the chapter, placed in the middle of big bouts of drama between the kids. But yet, it adds nothing because the music video is never elaborated on further.
Despite its flaws though, Rebelde’s characters are easy to warm to and distinct enough to remember. There’s definitely some good material here but it comes with a heavy dollop of tropes and clichés. If you can goo into this YA project knowing that, you’re bound to have a good time.
Verdict - 6/10