Red Rose Season 1 Review – Exposes the internet-driven world’s dark side in an uncompelling fashion

Season 1

Episode Guide

Episode 1 – | Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 2 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 3 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 4 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 5 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 6 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 7 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 8 – | Review Score – 2.5/5


Red Rose poses an important caveat for creators looking to expose the dark side of the internet: do not take viewers for granted. The world is smarter, the viewers are more informed, and the possibility of them finding out pitfalls in the depiction of something they know intimately is high.

Red Rose perhaps had the right fuel: a mysterious figure running an app to target teens, isolate them, and create a circus for their customers. The elements of drama within that framework had the potential to be interesting. The whole setup could be a telling statement on new adolescent habits and attachment to their smartphones and the internet. But the makers promised too much and delivered too little.

The reason for this frustration is that at almost eight episodes long, they had enough time to fully integrate drama with mystery. But after all the grand build-up and hours of wondering why all of this is happening, the show leaves its viewers in the lurches. One part of the combination was excessively obsessed over, while the other remained emancipated.

For those going in to watch the show, there is a heads-up: you do not get the answers you are looking for. And Red Rose does not do it in the intentional way where it is a calculated choice; it happens due to mismanagement of the narrative and disproportionately characterizing it with storytelling elements.

Red Rose is mostly set in Bolton around a group of teenagers who tastefully call themselves the “Dickheads.” Rochelle, who is the undeclared leader of the group, is the one targeted first by the app. Alyssa, a girl from Manchester, was the app’s first target a few months before the incidents in Bolton. When Roche tries to explain her situation to Wren, Ashely, Noah, Antony, and Taz, she is ignored. The app successfully isolates her and she loses her life. Wren is targeted next but, on this occasion, they have the benefit of hindsight and rally behind her to get to the truth.

One cannot help but feel that pinch of unfairness when you discover that the show just rolls over the reasons behind the app and how the Gardener and their aides actually managed to make it possible. Their motivations, backstory, and profile are neglected altogether. What was the point of building up this intrigue and mystery, only to decide not to give us any answers in the end? Was this just meant to be representational – a universal idea that can emanate anywhere in the world? Perhaps that seems to be the unfortunate truth.

The drama in Bolton with the families and their dysfunction is the bright part of the storytelling. A similar, more even-handed treatment to the other elements could have drastically changed the show’s fortunes. Each of the teens from the Dickheads had some sort of problem at home, forcing them to join hands and find family in each other, so much so that they were prepared to give their lives for one another. Adults dealing with suitable, real-life problems reflect well on the writers. The standard here is realistic and relatable. Even with the kids, the tone changes appropriately and there is not too much out of place. The story’s emotional support finds good strength in this strand.

But as we make our way to the expose of the dark side of the internet, the commitment of the writers wanes and the impact of the episodes weakens. The makers are too hasty to bring the story to a conclusion. They do not have clarity on how to fill the gaps in their script and even struggle to make a believable case for the creators of the app. That is the pivotal moment where the viewers most expectedly lose interest in following the story. They try to reforge Red Rose into a story of salvation and redemption, something that did not turn up in the first half.

These tonal inconsistencies only add to the woes. Red Rose had the makings of creating a real impact in the sordid, cutthroat television space it belongs. But the potential never materialises, even as the show beckons something to save it.

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  • Verdict - 6/10

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