The A List is basically a pre-teen version of Lost that’s somehow listed as a 12. Despite a compelling mystery and some nice ideas, the show is held back by some questionable acting, poor characterization and a group of caricatures plagued by a nasty case of the stupid.
The setting for this turbulent season takes place on Peregrine Island, an idyllic summer camp where our kids are ready to get stuck in to the festivities. It doesn’t take long though before things spiral out of control.
Our protagonist Mia comes to blows with fellow camper Amber, causing sparks to fly. Mia’s expectations for becoming Queen Bee are dashed, and it’s made worse when Amber reveals a strange ability to mind control everyone around her.
The midway point of the show then shifts, becoming a lot more tolerable as The A List doubles up on the mystery and puts a lot more effort into its world-building.
It’s here where The A List becomes a bit more gripping but it’s still held back by a lot of the same issues inherent with other teen dramas of its kind.
There’s an overbearing love triangle thrown in this that does nothing for our characters. There are numerous misunderstandings between different campers, and the plot grinds to a halt during ham-fisted dialogue that’s as cringey as it is unnatural.
Exposition is suddenly dumped at various moments through the story too, completely breaking up the flow of action. This is clunky and jarring… but somehow the show remains a real guilty pleasure.
For every eye-rolling segment and laughable sequence is an itch that refuses to be itched until you find out what really happened on the island.
The problem is, when the final reveals come then the savvier watchers will have figured this out by around episodes 3 or 4. That’s a real problem and only typifies the tonal clash this show has with age rating.
I can’t help but feel this should be a PG and tailor itself as the extended Goosebumps episode it feels like to watch.
The show tries so hard to be a serious teen drama contender, dead-set on wrestling with the big boys of the genre, that it sometimes becomes a parody of itself.
This goes back to that earlier comparison with Lost. The show is clearly inspired by the efforts of those over at NBC but The A List doesn’t have the nuance nor the character development to do itself justice.
A lot of the supporting characters here have very little to do, with one of the more obvious examples being Brendan. He acts cocky and arrogant and sort of just appears and acts like a jock whenever the plot asks him to. And then he’ll go missing for episodes on end until that aforementioned love triangle.
Likewise, Harry is the camp’s nerd and by the end of the season he’s still a nerd, only with a little more wherewithal over what he’s doing. It’s disappointing but hopefully something that will be addressed in the upcoming second season.
The show ends on one heck of a cliffhanger, leaving the door wide open for what’s to come in Netflix’s follow-up. Hopefully it’s an improvement on this because The A List feels more like The D List.
It’s not outright awful, but it’s not particularly great either. Chuck this on for a rainy afternoon or two, but don’t expect anything mind-blowing.