Make It or Break It (2009–2012)
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When I began watching the pilot I thought - it'll be a one season wonder. But as I continued to watch I found myself connecting with each character - while there are characters I do not 'like' as such, the tension truly enhances the show and engages the audience. This is so captivating; motivating; inspiring and simply amazing; the whole package.
The show is more about more than just gymnastics. The success and failure of each gymnast is moving but most of all - the spirit of the team is contagious and can be applied to almost every setting. Each character has such a complex story and though it appears at first to be "predictable" I find that my predictions are often wrong or there is some twist to it. I must say that certain events made me cry whilst watching. I found myself pulling a Payson Keeler happy cry. I do think she is the most beautiful character. The strength, power, discipline and grace of her character is inspiring. I have never felt so moved by a character.
Every episode of this show is an emotional roller coaster and I absolutely love it. I hope this show goes on to create many seasons and follows the same characters through their lives. This is an amazing show and I hope it wins its own "Olympic Gold" equivalent.
Make It or Break It is about a bunch of Olympic-level gymnasts and the drama that goes on behind the scenes on their way to Nationals. Yeah, it's on ABC family. And yeah, it's full of clichés. But it is well done and promises a lot of addictive teen soap action.
Biggest Weakness: The characters in this show are really one note: Lauren (Cassie Scerbo), the villain of the piece, is an ambitious and manipulative brat who will (and does) betray her friends to get ahead in the competition. Emily Kmetko (Chelsea Hobbs) is a plucky scholarship student who is torn between her dream and wanting a normal life. Payson (Ayla Kell) is completely focused. And Kaylie (Josie Loren) is clueless.
That said, all the lead actresses play their parts well. The performances from the cast of parents and paramours are solid also.
It's hard to get really excited about this show- nothing truly awesome or awful about it. The show is fun and has some pretty great moments (The gas station scene at the end of Episode 2 had me laughing out loud.), but it doesn't take enough chances to separate it from the rest of the tween-dramedy pack. B+
As I said it all now...Some may not like it. Of course, if you're a gymnastic athlete or huge fan, know all the routines,what is possible and is not, scoring system etc, you may find it a bit unrealistic. But for me, who always liked shows about team spirit, sporting events, sports and athletes, especially gymnastics...this was my cup of tea. It has a great potential to develop into a extraordinary story, and yes, if it goes that way, I will continue to watch. But, if the first 2 episodes go all Gossip Girl meets Beverly Hills on me, I'll just stop. I have really nothing against these 2 shows, but I'd like this one, which should always have sport as a main thing, and all the drama like the cream and cherry on the top, to be different. Show us their life in and out of gym, why should one go throw all that hard work and pain, preparing for years to go to the Nationals or Olympics, having no room for ordinary stuff, giving up so much (time, money, new towns and cities...) to either "make it or break it".
I'm really in a need for something like that, so with all my enthusiasm and "wow! gymnastics in a TV show" excitement, I'm giving it a 7. Would give it a higher score, but we don't want them to get cocky, right? LOL
I have never been so wrong—and if you knew me you'd know just how horrible this show is if I'm admitting I was wrong about something. I couldn't get through the first five minutes of it without feeling offended by the mockery it makes of the sport of gymnastics. I will never understand how even non-gymnasts could tolerate one full episode of this show, let alone get invested in the characters and the story lines as some of my friends did. It's baffling. Make It or Break It is just about as bad as they come. It is silly, it is inaccurate and it is above all offensive to gymnasts.
If you're going to watch this show, expect horrendous acting. I've been forced to sit through episodes of Secret Life of the American Teenager and Pretty Little Liars, so I know ABC Family accepts nothing but the "highest" quality actors. Their actors and actresses have about the same amount of acting knowhow as I do—none. The comedic scenes are ruined by the actor's lack of timing, the joyful scenes seem fake with their plastered on smiles and school girl giggling, and the dramatic scenes are just about as believable as the surprised look on a kids face when he unwraps a brand new pair of socks for Christmas. And I haven't even gotten to the gymnastics part of the review yet.
You'd think that with the show centering on the lives of four Olympic hopefuls, the producers would aim to create a program that real gymnasts could get behind and appreciate. ABC Family and the creators of Make It or Break It accomplished exactly the opposite of that. Great job, ABC. It was impossible to just sit back and enjoy the show without being constantly distracted by all the inaccuracies around the sport of gymnastics. It was immediately clear that the producers don't have a clue what real gymnastics is like.
One huge problem I had with the show right off the bat was the content of the gymnast's competitive routines. The pilot episode of the show, a crucial time for the viewer to judge a show on it's believability, features nationally ranked, elite gymnasts competing compulsory level skills. The second I saw the "best beam routine in the country" end with a cartwheel back tuck dismount, I lost any remaining respect I had for the whole show. Imagine Olympic All Around gold medalist Nastia Liukin, concentrating on her dismount, taking a long, deep breath, pounding down the beam, propelling herself into the air, pulling off a 2.5 twisting back layout, sticking the landing, and making the whole thing look easy. That's the kind of dismount I want to see. Not just a cartwheel back tuck.
That wasn't all they got wrong either. Episode after episode, they had parents allowed on the competitive floor, gymnasts conspiring against each other, girls scaring away an urban gang with cartwheels, scratched routines being performed, and a whole lot of other craziness. They even had a gymnast make herself puke up her breakfast because it was "too fattening". Excuse me, what? That was the last straw for me. I barely made it half way through the season before I was too disgusted to continue. No longer would I put myself through that torture.
1. the girls set a horrible example for any student. Every time an extra walks past the girls they are the kings of snob-town. "Hey guys what are you doing!?" "Nothing get the hell out of here" *shooing motions with their hands* Or a guy comes to say hi and they bite his head off saying "I'm out of your league, get out of my face." and then they walk off to find another guy to dote over. Now usually in a family/Disney show like this you expect these kinds of girls to get their come-uppance somehow. But in the world of 'Make It, Or Break It' (a Disney show gone evil) this is just accepted as completely acceptable because the girls rule the school.
So either its marketed to the family. Then they're bullies by any other standards other than their own. And underage sexual deviants, gawping over boys who are just as rude as they are and having implied relations with all of them. (Not to mention their coach who practices with his wife in his office regularly, shutting the blinds so the girls don't see in. That's how people envision their coaches nowadays?)
And if its not marketed to the family, then everything else falls apart. The acting is clearly Disney. The lighting is Disney. The music is Disney. The only one thing I saw that wasn't Disney but kind of scary was where the coach called them to a private campfire meeting in the middle of the night and asked them to remove their team jackets and burn them. Imagine explaining that one to your mum: "Where's your jacket honey I'll wash it and put it away... What? what do you mean your coach wanted you to take off your clothes and burn them. I paid good money for that jacket! and you're not to burn your clothes for another man again!"
The cast is likable and are not chosen for looks but for acting ability. The 4 main girls are well cast - different and likable in their own way. Josie Loren as Kaylie looks like a young Eva Longoria and is sweet and has star quality. Ayla Kell is good as the determined Payson and her body is quite full - a good move not to choose just skinny girls. Chelsea Hobbs is effective as the financially struggling Emily. The adults are quite well cast too. Cassie Scerbo plays the bitchy manipulative Loren quite well it's a difficult role and she manages to make you feel for her. Some of the guys cast as romantic interests are a bit clueless looking. Among the parents and grown ups Peri Gilpin (Roz from Frasier) is a standout - she is a great gym mom. Candace Cameron (of Full House) plays a very sweet adult. The coach is played by Brit Neil Jackson and he is quite convincing. Susan Ward as the trailer trash mom with a good heart is quite amusing.
A couple of faults: at the end of Season 2 Chelsea had to leave for a pregnancy and the story had to awkwardly incorporate that. The evil NGO woman is a unnecessarily annoying. The alternating competition and team spirit between the girls is a bit repetitive.
Overall - a great show that should entertain and is topical with the 2012 Olympic games in London coming up.
Expecting another fantastic season from the ABC Family
By the end of the second season, they've managed to thoroughly shock me (happily) with four of their characters who totally break out of the typical morality play quality of most ABC shows for teens.
The gymnast central to the storyline learns all sorts of typical morality play lessons - then gets pregnant and drops out of the sport to live her life as a single teen mom with no prospects. Wait, what? Second, the only openly Christian character, the gym manager, (played by Family Ties alum Candace Cameron) is so sickly sweet over the top holier than thou she pisses off the rest of the characters regularly. She emotionally devastates one of the teen girls by telling her that she would always be there for her, then refusing to forgive her after the girl makes a mistake and admits it. Cameron's character frequently shocks and upsets others with her extreme moral attitude and hypocrisy, eventually forcing her to leave the gym (and the show).
The coach - the most positive supporting adult in the series - is openly atheist and teaches the girls about morality and forgiveness. He takes on responsibility for his actions, and encourages others to do the same. He makes the greatest sacrifice for the girls immediately after being romantically rejected by the Cameron character because he will accept her faith/values, but not join her religion.
A major love interest for one of the girls reveals that he is not gay, but bi, and complains that even the gay community won't accept him (insisting he must go full gay and drop girls, or he's simply still in denial). Wait, an ABC Family show willing to discuss not just homosexuality, but bisexuality? What?
Whoa. That's a lot of TV stereotypes smashed in one show.
However as I began to watch the show I realized that there was actually a really great plot that focused on not only of a struggle of teenage athletes, but also personal struggles that are relevant to everybody.
Also the characters in the show are very well developed and have their own unique distinctive personalities that allows the viewers to have a better understanding of their thoughts and actions and allows the viewer to connect with them more easily.
Overall I think that this show is definitely worth watching and once you start watching their is no stop! It is definitely very entertaining, addicting, and appeals to any demographic.