Netflix, pay attention. Dare Me deserves a Season 2 just like You. If you make it, we will watch!
USA’s little-watched sizzler Dare Me has all the elements of a breakout hit. It is filled with beautiful people doing varying degrees of dangerous or awful things with occasional cheer montages sprinkled in to incredibly NSFW songs. In a word, Dare Me is sublime. Unfortunately, not very many viewers tuned in each week. From the beginning, this series was a weird fit for the channel best known in the past for Burn Notice, Covert Affairs, and so many reruns of Law and Order.
In the past five years, USA has edged into an ahem… edgier space with critical darling Mr. Robot and The Sinner but a teen murder mystery that reads as much about mean girl culture and teen sexuality as an actual who done it was a tough sell for viewers who quite frankly had no idea what to do with the show. They started watching, thinking it would be some sort of Bring It On reboot but quickly were sorely disappointed. Much like another slow burner, You, that languished on Lifetime but found new fans on Netflix; Dare Me has gotten new life and new hope that the cheerleaders with a gun will get a second chance.
Netflix has a history of resurrecting shows successfully.
Dare Me is a perfect example of real teenage girl angst and fits much better on a streamer that can let it all hang out. As mentioned earlier, You, deliriously raucous Arrested Development, and hilariously sexy Lucifer, all found new homes and new life in the mega streamer. Script to screen shows like You and Dare Me are smart stories with fresh characters. Just Like You, a ton of the work is already done. For a streamer like Netflix, it is a no-brainer. For binge-worthy shows that need someplace to spread their wings a little, Netflix is their huckleberry. Dare Me is a prime example. Based on Megan Abbott’s novel, this series is uncomfortable to watch, intense, and embarrassingly addictive.
Dare Me needs the freedom Netflix provides.
Teen dramas have long been about wish fulfillment. We watch as supposedly high school-aged kids engage in adult-sized activities and drama. All while their parents only exist to pay their bills and occasionally offer sage advice if they are lucky enough to get any screentime. Riverdale broke the mold a bit when they allowed the Hot Dad Club to participate in more than just lite meal prep or background violence.
Dare Me keeps the focus firmly on the teen girls and their coach. They struggle with self-identity, sexual assault, substance abuse, and neglect. The girls are roiling masses of need, anger, and frustration. Their story is a delicate mix of escapism and excruciating. Everyone likes to watch a good sex scene between beautiful people who we know are actually in their mid-twenties. When the actors are as believable as Marlo Kelly and Herizen Guardiola, it becomes tougher to enjoy. Leaning into the tumultuous truth of high school girls it would continue their story in an authentic way.
If the actors look or feel too young, things get real uncomfortable real quick. For example, people lost their minds when Arya Stark in Game Of Thrones decided to end her virginity in a typical Arya way by asking Gendry to be her first. “She’s a child,” they screamed. That didn’t stop anyone from watching the next week, mind you. HBO treated Maisie Williams(Arya) with respect, and the event was very loyal to her character’s progression and age. Allowing Addy and Beth to continue their trajectory unfettered by prime time television’s sensibilities would provide an anything goes high wire act of honesty and uncomfortability that would be prestige programming.
Dare Me has that same sense of realism. It is what makes it so good and also so horribly wrong for USA. The central trio of cheer coach and students are fire and ice. The girls are scorching, and their mentor is an ice queen of barely contained want. Unlike Hulu’s The Teacher, Dare Me doesn’t care if you make judgments about Willa Fitgerald’s Coach Colette, or Beth and Addy’s choices for that matter. All three main characters defiantly look you straight in the eye and dare you to judge them.
Marlo Kelly(Beth Cassidy) simmers with sad desperation when she isn’t seething with jealousy and rage. Herizen Guardiola(Addy Hanlon) needs to get out of her dead-end life and dead-end town before consuming her. She and Kelly are believable as teens because the source material is accurate to the high school experience. They emote every intense reaction through their pouty lips and arched eyebrows. Despite being in their twenties, these two women resonate with naked need, desire, and pain. Netflix allows the series to explore their passions and reactions in a ready-made environment already primed for titillation.
We can’t get enough of these three women, and we need to know what really happened. Without giving away any spoilers, Season 1 ended with more than a few questions. The story just got started, and I’m not ready to let go. Season 2 would bring answers to the integral murder mystery and give each of the core three a chance to flesh out their futures. That’s something worth its weight in body glitter. Watch Dare Me. It is the best guilty pleasure on Netflix right now, and we deserve to see an end to Colette, Addy, and Beth’s story. We need to know what happened to that certain someone who may or may not have been killed. Until then, catch up on all our Dare Me coverage here and keep your poms ready and your fingers crossed. As of right now, there has been no notice of renewal.
As the TV/Streaming Editor for Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre tv. I grew up with old school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. When I’m not watching and writing about my favorite movies and series, I’m introducing my family to the wonderful world of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. My only regret, there is not enough time in the day to watch everything.