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First impressions | ‘Rebel’ is Netflix’s new guilty pleasure

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The telenovela “Rebelde” became one of the most successful productions in Mexican culture and won fans around the world when it aired between 2004 and 2006. Putting names like Anahí, Dulce María and Alfonso Herrera to the The focus of the spotlight was on Elite Way School and followed the daily life of a group of young people facing typical adolescent experiences, from sexual arousal to eating disorders. In addition to having been shown numerous times in the national territory (which is why the protagonists had already declared their total passion for the Brazilian public), the production has rekindled interest in the stories of the genre in question. Now, with the arrival of the streaming era, the plot is moving towards a more modernized reinterpretation under the responsibility of Netflix – and which will reach the platform’s catalog in 2022.

Inspired by both the previous telenovela and the first adaptation, ‘Rebelde Way’, the main plot takes us back to the aforementioned school and, this time, it opens the doors of the school to a new generation of young people who carry their own values ​​and who are striving to conquer your space in the most unexpected way possible. Directed by Santiago Limón, the version brings topical elements to the discussion – such as questions of gender and sexual orientation, which are gaining ground day by day on mainstream networks – as well as the phrase “search for dreams ”which is intrinsic to everyone. one of the characters. In the end, we are dealing with several slippages that tarnish the rhythm and the construction of the series, but it is clear that, in a few weeks, ‘Rebelde’ will be the new guilty pleasure of the streaming giant.

For those who expect a certain relationship with the previous production, the script makes a point of gifting Easter eggs to soothe the hearts of even the most ardent fans – like the appearance of Luka Colucci (Franco Masini). , a parent of Mia Colucci, loaded with a sense of belonging that makes him an extremely unpleasant character motivated by family status. On another spectrum, we are introduced to Jana Gandía Cohen (Azul Guaita), a famous teenage singer who is treated with contempt by other Elite Way students and who must prove her talent if she is to break free from the privileges that come with her life. . . We also have Estebán (Sergio Mayer Mori), a shy boy who starts to fall in love with Jana; Dixon (Jeronimo Cantillo), a Colombian student being bullied precisely because he comes from another country; Ultra-optimistic MJ (Andrea Chaparro), who grew up in California and struggles to adjust his values ​​and beliefs to high school savagery; and Andi (Lizeth Selene), a talented drummer who doesn’t take any insults from herself or from her friends.

The two chapters of the first season serve as an introduction (or re-presentation) of a microcosm that we already know, or at least those that grew up with the original series. However, as good as the intentions are, showrunners forget about one important element: motivation. Of course, when it comes to young people, there is the solid basis of intergenerational conflict that prevents them from being who they are or making their own decisions (which is very welcome, given the scarce resources that exist for them. unreasonable daring). But it is only at the end of the second episode that we understand what is happening and how the dynamic between the protagonists will work: each living in his world and united by a misfortune of fate, none of them does seem to have a desire to be vulnerable, running up against tiresome and repetitive stereotypes.

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Make no mistake, the problem here is limited to character construction. The actors and actresses are quite talented and appeal to a passionate naturalism, which is why we put our misunderstandings aside and accept the invitation to accompany them on this journey, especially when an old secret group decides to show their faces to school and threatens the integrity of teachers and students (a clever idea that leaves room for playful mergers of multiple narrative genres). And, even with pitfalls along the way, there is enormous potential to explore, if – and only if – the creative team understands that it is not possible to take one step further than the leg and that sometimes , playing with clichés can be a practical and functional result.

The presence of a veteran cast helps to make the layers of the plot more complex. The return of Estefanía Villareal as the charming Celina Ferrer is one of the highlights of the episodes, as the character has gone through a deep maturing process and, now, has to remember her school years. to understand what is going on in the minds of students; Karla Sofia Gazcón adopts the impetuosity of the beadle of Lourdes to lend a little comedy to adolescent melodrama; and Giovanna Grigio, who was immortalized as Mili in the ‘Chiquititas’ remake, delves into the girls’ mean demeanor and bets on the versatility of antagonist Emilia Alo, Brazilian exchange student and apparent nemesis by Jana.

‘Rebelde’ has its ups and downs and begins with two troubled episodes that demonstrate an appreciation for the artistic genres that have dominated Latin television in recent years. Referring to “Elite,” Netflix’s new foray has a lot of room to improve – as long as it doesn’t try to copy what came before or revolutionize a niche that can’t be revolutionized.

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