Between: “School’s Out” Review (Netflix)

A new Netflix series has come to my attention, so I have decided to write a review for the pilot episode. I know a lot of people who have interest in the Netflix originals, so I feel that this will be of some benefit.

The plot of Between centers around the town of Pretty Lake, where a mysterious epidemic is taking the lives of everyone over the age of 21. This of course leaves a town full of youth who have to navigate through a world without adult supervision.

I will fully admit that the premise for this show doesn’t seem at all fresh or interesting. It’s been done before, on many occasions. On top of that fact, the pilot episode leaves a lot to be desired. The first season of this show only appears to be 5-6 episodes, and the episodes are about 45 minutes apiece. Based on the pilot, it seems like the show put all of its cards out on the table too early, and there really isn’t much to drag viewers into the next episode. In addition, I had a hard time finding any of the characters to be likable, which also doesn’t work in the show’s favor.

This brings up an interesting point about the show as well. Everyone who watches Netflix original series will know that one of the key characteristics is that an entire season is available for viewing all at once, perfect for the binge-watchers. In the case of Between, this is entirely different. Only one episode of the show is released per week, similar to shows available on all other networks. Now, I’m uncertain if this is the first time Netflix has used this tactic, but I do feel like this may have been the wrong show to do it with. Many of the show’s characteristics support the notion that it may be a partnership with another network that is actually airing one episode per week. The running time of each individual episode is a large factor in that.

Within the first episode, the viewer is introduced to the cast of main characters. There is a pregnant teen named Wiley (played by Jennette McCurdy of Nickelodeon’s iCarly fame) who is also the daughter of a minister. There is a “genius” “hacker” teen who is said to have been accepted into MIT early. We have a young adult who works on a farm with his family and has just joined the military. There is a set of brothers, one of which is clearly a troublemaker. There is a spoiled, rich boy who also has two siblings, and of course there are other side characters as well who conveniently (or in one case.. oddly) remain alive despite the epidemic.

There is an additional pool of characters in a prison setting that I must mention. The prison seems to be located in Pretty Lake, although any other connection was completely missed by me. I’m not sure if this will be explained later on or not, but it was ultimately very confusing while watching the episode. It didn’t seem to have a place in the overall scheme of it all.

While the first episode focuses on setting up the plot and introducing the characters, it doesn’t seem to leave any room to grow. There are so many characters that you don’t really get to know any of them well in the first episode, so it’s hard to feel for them when they are in risky situations (and there are some). In addition, I felt that the epidemic took hold too quickly. The characters don’t really grieve for their lost loved ones because there isn’t any time to. I felt as though the show may have benefitted from stretching out the onset of the epidemic rather than having the town succumb within 20 minutes of the episode. Maybe have the epidemic strike the adults in sequence based on their ages, all leading down to the only survivors being 21 and under. This may have increased suspense, and it definitely would have created a panic of sorts in the surviving youth. They would have seen the deaths happening in sequence, and for all they know they really could be next. Instead, the majority of adults are just gone, and I’m having trouble seeing where the show is going to go from here.

As far as the production of it is concerned, I really had no issues. It’s well shot. It looks nice. The overall look of the show, especially when mixed with the ages of the characters and the subject matter, is reminiscent of some CW shows. It has a very youth novel feel to it. It kind of goes along with the popular dystopia plots that have captivated audiences over the past couple of years (i.e. The Hunger Games).

Normally, I have no problem with this. I still consider myself young. I can get into it. For this show, however, I’m just worried that it has no room to grow. I mentioned that this series probably would have benefitted from being made available all at once so that viewers could go through all of the 5-6 episodes quickly, possibly amped up by the previous episode and definitely aided by the unescapable charms of autoplay. By making only one episode available per week, Between has every possibility of being forgotten after an episode ends, especially with its pilot.

I will most likely be giving the series another go when the next episode becomes available. We’ll see if it defies my current doubts.


One response to “Between: “School’s Out” Review (Netflix)

  1. Pingback: Between: “Who’s the Boss?” Review | Haley Noelle Cummings

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