Staying true to the classic book series — the show follows the life of 12-year-old Darrell Rivers who leaves home for the first time to head off to boarding school — the show is set in the late 1940s in a post World War 2 Britain, at an all-girls' school on the Cornish coast.
Promising "a nostalgic world of midnight feasts, lacrosse, pranks, a mystery ghost and lasting friendships," the show retains the beloved world of Malory Towers school to welcome you back, but also makes it relevant for the younger generation. It deals with time-old experiences like bullying, peer pressure, shifting cliques and self-doubt; experiences certainly not exclusive to children. With a nearly entirely female cast, it puts women's stories centre stage. Empowering and diverse, it's all about showing girls how much they can achieve and that they don't need to be perfect.
In a world of web shows such as 13 Reasons Why and Sex Education, the audiences, even the teens have matured enough to watch shows with no likeable characters. There are no heroes or villains in the teen shows that are available today. There are no victories of good over evil and vice versa. For many fans of the book like me, the show seems too smug, because we have already crossed the age to know that real life is different from the happy pictures, Enid Blyton painted in her books. For the ones who haven't read the books, the show might seem too difficult to relate as one wouldn't know much about the background of the characters or their shared jokes or adages. I mean a friend of mine had no idea about why a girl would make hot chocolate to a senior or the importance of midnight feasts. The show is set in the 40s- and 50s and we can safely say it is no longer relevant to the ethos of today. The production quality also is a huge issue as I felt the show was done on a budget with little attention being paid to details.
Ella Bright who plays Darrell Rivers is the star of the show. The rest of the cast don't have much to do but keeping in mind the sensibilities of 2020, the cast is diverse.
Do I recommend it?
No. It is a tepid adaptation of the book series and makes no sense to someone who hasn't read it. It is also no longer relatable to the audiences of today. Teens today want to see and read more on real issues pertaining to sexuality, mental health, body positivity, abortions etc. No one wants to watch a show based on goody-two-shoes girls from the 50s. The show could have picked up some tips from Derry Girls on how to make a period drama seem more relatable and enjoyable.