From Snooki to the Real Housewives, most breakout reality TV stars are known for their petulant bickering and habit of tossing drinks in each other's faces. But pliés and pirouettes? The CW is attempting to elevate the reality TV genre with Breaking Pointe, a new six-episode series that showcases the demanding training and brutal stakes faced by the dancers at Salt Lake City's Ballet West dance company. (Watch a trailer below.) The first episode, which premieres Thursday, focuses on the tense renewals and cancellations of the dancers' yearly contracts. But can Breaking Pointe, which is produced by BBC Worldwide, succeed without the arguably loathsome shenanigans typical of reality TV?
It's a must-watch series: I hope Breaking Pointe marks "a seismic shift in TV consciousness," says Linda Stasi at The New York Post. No barking judges. No groan-worthy parades of clowns seeking their 15 minutes. It's the real deal: "The injuries are extreme; the dancing gorgeous; the dancers young and beautiful." Despite its cultural credibility, the show doesn't stint on reality-TV drama: A prima ballerina looking over her shoulder at the rising star; the dancer on the verge of being cut from the company; the magnetic, hunky male lead. Plus, Breaking Pointe boasts the best slogan on TV: "Blood, Sweat, and Tutus."
The dancers are a little dull, but the show's still riveting: The "ballet — it ain't for wimps!" premise intrigues me, says Diane Werts at Newsday. But Breaking Pointe suffers when it tries too hard to be a standard reality TV show by, for instance, tracking the romantic entanglements of the dancers. "Just keeping the players straight practically requires a flow chart." The show's real appeal is their "intensely felt dreams, desires, and tears." Anytime a reality TV show portrays young people with actual ambition, it's worth a look.
"Stepping on toes in Breaking Pointe"
Sadly, it's just too boring: The cutthroat, fascinating world of ballet has been explored before — brilliantly in Black Swan, entertainingly-if-cheesily in Center Stage, says Jessica Shaw at Entertainment Weekly. Breaking Pointe tries, but brings too little drama to the table. The most intriguing storyline belongs to prima ballerina Christiana, who fears being eclipsed by the ingenue. Yet, although we yearn for her to say something mean or petty, she never does. Unfortunately, the other compelling dancer, the sweet and funny Katie, looks as if she's going to be cut from the company. "Maybe the show can ditch Ballet West and just follow her."
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