Episode 1 -| Review Score – 3/5
Episode 2 -| Review Score – 2/5
Episode 3 -| Review Score – 3/5
Episode 4 -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 5 -| Review Score – 3/5
Episode 6 -| Review Score – 2/5
Episode 7 -| Review Score – 2/5
Episode 8 -| Review Score – 2/5
Episode 9 -| Review Score – 2/5
Episode 10 -| Review Score – 1.5/5
Combining the dark, gritty themes of Black Swan with a “whodunit” and teen drama reminisce to Pretty Little Liars, on paper Tiny Pretty Things seems like the perfect winter warmer. Like a shot of Bailee’s mixed with cloudy lemonade though, the ensuing result curdles in the tumbler; turning two unique tastes into something ghastly that doesn’t sit well in your stomach.
The setting for this story is the Archer School of Ballet where newcomer Neveah arrives hoping to make a big splash. Between Queen Bee Bette, ballet owner Madame Dubois and coach Topher, Neveah almost quits on the first day after struggling with the pressure. Thankfully, fellow dancers Shane and Oren lend her words of encouragement as Neveah comes out fighting for another day.
The reason for this hostility soon becomes apparent. The girl she’s replacing, Cassie, was pushed off the roof 3 weeks earlier by someone inside the ballet. With Csssie in a critical state and numerous suspects in play, when Neveah receives an ominous calling card and a threat on her life, things quickly escalate. This sets the scene nicely for a deliciously dark whodunit to follow, mixed in with tackling important social themes along the way. At least, that’s what it seems like on the surface.
Unfortunately looks can be deceiving and like Gordon Ramsay receiving undercooked food in Hell’s Kitchen, the ensuing result of this drama is likely to leave plenty shaking their heads calling for a re-fire.
Credit where credit’s due before we dive into the negatives; Tiny Pretty Things does touch on some timely topics across its 10 episode run. From body image issues and bullying to drug abuse and sexual assault, this ballet drama is surprisingly good and bringing these topics to the foreground, giving the impression that this series boasts some depth and more to say beyond its surface level script.
Sadly, this illusionary façade of depth is soon shattered as you realize the show never dives deeper than surface level into any of these topics. At worst, they’re completely dropped midway through and never mentioned again.
One such example comes from Oren, who has issues with his looks and constantly counts the calories. Several episodes tackle the idea of looks and the effect ballet can have on one’s physique. It’s a wonderful inclusion, backed up by a decent display of empowerment in one solitary, unified movement… only to be shattered completely by the next episode’s coach calling the boys “fatsos”.
Bette meanwhile goes through quite the transformation across the season as she suffers a set-back early on that forces her down a slippery road of taking painkillers. She soon becomes addicted, setting up a nice downward spiral reminisce of Nina’s demons in Black Swan. Unfortunately the show completely abandons this plot-line midway through with a quick line of dialogue and another love making segment.
And Tiny Pretty Things features a lot of sex scenes. So many times characters hook up and awkwardly engage in some rough and tumble with absolutely no chemistry, rhyme or meaning. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against a sex scene in a story; Cruel Intentions probably has one of the best across any media form.
But Tiny Pretty Things is not cruel intentions. In fact, it has intentions to try and deliver something dark and gritty but the cruel reality is this falls flat on its face trying.
To make matters worse, the show is tonally inconsistent too, swinging from dark, gritty drama to teen melodrama in the blink of an eye. There’s even a few nonsensical slapstick comedy scenes for good measure too. These are the most damning of all, feeling completely out of sync with the rest of the show.
The only thing here that isn’t out of sync is the dancing. In fact, the various dance numbers are one of the few high points in this show and help to break up some of the bigger bouts of melodrama that plague the series. It’s just a pity that this dancing never really amounts to anything more than window dressing for dominating teen melodrama and half-baked plot lines.
Tiny Pretty Things is certainly not the next Pretty Little Liars. Nor is it the next Black Swan. In fact, this show tries so desperately to cling to past influences that it struggles to find a distinct voice for itself. Instead, Tiny Pretty Things plays out like a back-up dancer slightly out of sync with everyone else. Sure, it may get a couple of moves right but by the end you’ve seen enough; I’d be very surprised if this one is renewed for a second season.