Netflix’s ‘Tiny Pretty Things’ Takes Dance Drama to the Edge

Created by Pretty Little Liars visionary Michael MacLennan Tiny Pretty Things is a mystery drama about a group of teenagers at an elite ballet academy in Chicago, IL. The Netflix series is based on the novel by Dhonielle Clayton and Sonia Charaiotra. The series takes the challenges and competition of professional ballet to another level with secrets, scandals and even murder. This show will have you completely enthralled in the chaos from the moment you begin watching.

The plot of Tiny Pretty Things begins when one of Archer academy’s top dancers, Cassie Shore (Anna Maiche), gets pushed off the edge of the dormitory roof and winds up in a coma. Not knowing if or when she will wake up, her spot at the academy becomes available to Neveah Stroyer (Kylie Jefferson), an incredibly talented dancer from Englewood, CA. In order to give the academy good press following Cassie’s “accident” the school’s headmaster, Madame Dubois (Lauren Holly), publicizes the fact that Neveah is underprivileged and at Archer on a full scholarship.

While Madame Dubois may be hyper focused on both her own appearance and that of Archer, she has a bag full of secrets just waiting to be found out. Plus, Madame Dubois is far from the only problem with the faculty at Archer. In fact, one of the students’ teachers, Ramon (Bayardo De Murguia), has a fetish for underage ballerinas; and the another teacher named Topher Brooks (Shaun Benson), treats his students like soulless bodies as opposed to actual human beings.

All while dealing with the constant mental and physical abuse brought on by their teachers and confidants, the students battle their own demons. For example, Bette Whitlaw (Casimere Jollette) has to deal with always being in the shadow of her older sister Delia (Tory Trowbridge), who has gone on to dance professionally and is one of Archer’s most successful former students. Then there is Oren (Barton Cowperthwaite), who feels so much pressure from his teachers as well as anxiety within himself that it causes him to develop an eating disorder.

Netflix

June Park (Daniela Norman) first faces the immense pressure of ballet when her mother threatens to make her leave Archer if she doesn’t land a lead role in the next big performance. June’s biggest fear is not being able to do the one thing she loves most, which is dancing. June’s dance partner is Nabil (Michael Su Rosen), who was Cassie’s boyfriend and is struggling the most with her being in a coma; the situation gives him trouble concentrating on his dancing. We also have Shane (Brennan Clost), who desperately wants true love with someone who isn’t afraid to be with another man. He finds this to be more difficult than one might expect.

While the plot of Tiny Pretty Things may seem at times to be anti-dance—based on the way it paints so many of the dancers and dance teachers as villains—every time we see one of the cast’s performances, we are reminded of just how incredible this art form is and how the act of dancing makes people feel. With that being said, many dancers in real life are pitted against one another and often put themselves through mental and physical pain for the sake of making it big. The series clearly exaggerates the abuse and mistreatment that goes within the sport, yet most likely stems from truths that already exist.

I enjoyed this show because I was not only constantly hooked by the drama, but I also enjoyed seeing the actors and actresses (many of whom are professional dancers) dance each episode. I recommend Tiny Pretty Things to anyone looking for something you can binge in one weekend that will capture your undivided attention. Although nothing has been confirmed yet, Tiny Pretty Things will most likely return for season 2 in 2021.

‘Tiny Pretty Things’ is available to stream on Netflix.

By Blair Krassen (@blairlyawake)

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