Tiny Pretty Things premiered on 14th December 2020 on Netflix. It is based on the novel of the same name by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton, and created by Michael MacLennan. The 10-episode-long series stars Barton Cowperthwaite, Bayardo De Murguia, Damon J. Gillespie, Kylie Jefferson, Casimere Jollette, Anna Maiche, Daniela Norman, Michael Hsu Rosen, Tory Trowbridge, Jess Salgueiro, Lauren Holly, and Brennan Clost alongside other cast members.
The Blood, Sweat, Pain, And Exploitation
December brings to us another teen-drama that starts in a riveting manner but is soon too entangled in itself and pushes the plot for as long as 10 episodes of about 50 minutes each. The series opens with the shot of star student Cassie Shore who is dancing on the edge of the roof and is pushed by someone in a hoodie and after that, the entire academy, especially the students, play a blame game and Scooby-Doo Mystery Inc. However, the series is beautiful for its ballet part and it looks flawless to me as a person who doesn’t know much about the art.
Our prominent featuring in every mess group of students here are Bette Whitlaw, June Park, Naveah Stroyer, Shane, Oren Lennox, Nabil, Caleb, and few others. The series is pushed long enough for you to feel bored or tired. There are also ample sex and skin here. There are semi-naked guys and girls and well, that’s just how they grew up around each other. Touching upon important topics like institutional abuse and the exploitation of both the sexes, the series fails to bring justice to the entire idea of what it started with.
Tiny Pretty Things has enough space for all the characters to grow and have an arc but it is overstuffed with various ideas running and colliding with each other. Everyone has their fears and insecurities, we get that, but they are over-detailed and yet with low lying characters – plenty of them. Who is the chief dancer? Does Naveah make it? Does Shane get when he deserves? So many more basic questions are left for the next season.
And then there’s Cassie. She is not dead actually, she is in a deep-coma and starts breathing on her own when her parents decide to take her life support plug off and give her mercy death. Miracles, oh dear. But she is as good dead as she was alive – her presence has no strong impact on season 1. Through Tiny Pretty Things, Netflix yet again victimizes black or brown individuals and fails to empower them in any way possible.
And then there’s a generalization of a person’s life tragedy as a black/brown folk either come from a criminal background or sexual history or something close. And they have also drifted from the source material in terms of giving their protagonist’s family history. While this sounds small, the idea is problematic. This generalization is a problem – people of black and brown race don’t always have to be people who are sufferers or criminals or animosity-filled. Come on! Aside from this, the series has good soundtracks that speak more than the characters at times and nicely drafted dream sequences for each character that tells their innermost dilemma but everything good drifts away when the storyline feels bleak.
Summing up, Tiny Pretty Things lacks substance in many ways and does not justify the idea it brings forth (bulimia, abuse, discrimination, exploitation, crime, and more). If it were well-executed, the series had the power to be a blockbuster but then stereotyping and pushing the plot way too far happened and it dipped. At certain moments I switched to 1.5x and it still felt pushed and pulled unnecessarily. Do you see my point? The characters here are praise-worthy and abide by the screenplay in the best possible way. I really wanted to like this series and I was looking forward to it but it just missed the mark.
Stream It or Skip It
SKIP IT! I dearly wish I could have said otherwise. The series gets a 3-star rating here for its well-drawn ballet and dream sequences but is skip worthy as there is nothing satisfying by the end of it. Tiny Pretty Things aimed at being something and unnecessary dragged its plot and it’s just… tiring!
Tiny Pretty Things is now streaming on Netflix.
Read our other reviews here.