A series for kids that winks at nineties aesthetics
The surf girls is the new children’s series from Apple Tv +available from 19 August 2022, based on the saga of the same name graphic novel by Kim Dwinell.
The series, consisting of a total of ten episodes, is a mystery drama suitable for the whole family, a coming-of-age in full nineties style.
Co-developed by May Chan (winner of the WGA award), Alex Diaz, Julie Sagalowsky And directed by director American Young, The surf girls follows the adventures of two friends struggling with supernatural events that take place in their small town.
The show recalls a nostalgic atmosphere but also takes all its defects: the acting is childish, the direction flat and the key issues are treated in an all too superficial way. The surf girls is a fun and light series ideal for a younger audience, but which can hardly meet the tastes of a spectator who is not the same age as the protagonists.
The plot of The surf girls
Summer is the time to leave school behind and head for adventure. Or at least that’s the perfect plan for Sam (YaYa Gosselin), who plans to spend their holidays in the name of surfing and fun in the small Californian town of Surfside.
One day, while on the open sea with her surfboard, she is dragged underwater by a mysterious force and ends up in an underwater cave where she finds an ancient doubloon. Driven by her curiosity, Sam begins to explore but flees when a faint voice calls her. When she returns to the mainland, she shows the doubloon to her friend Jade (Miya Cech) telling her what happened to her, convinced that the doubloon has magical powers.
Jade and Sam are the opposite of each other: while the first is rational and lets himself be guided by logic, the second is adventurous and reckless and often throws himself into situations fueled by his vivid imagination and the desire to give his life a pinch of magic. The very different characters of the two friends are the starting point of The surf girlsa reason for the friction between the two that arose well before the discovery of the treasure and the encounter with Saints and with a world of supernatural hues.
The series, designed for a very young target, shines the spotlight on the typical problems of that ageincluding self-acceptance and the value of friendship as a bond that also overcomes differences: the two friends are starting to learn how to deal with their differences and how to accept them.
A coming-of-age in full nineties style
The surf girls it’s a coming-of-age which puts the importance of relationships, both interpersonal and family ones, at the center of its narrative.
The families of the two protagonists are represented in the most positive way possible in a completely different way compared to the family ties now typical in contemporary series where – largely in the shows of recent years – the dysfunctional family reigns as a reason for friction and growth of the protagonists. . As comforting as it is to see families again on the small screen who have a good relationship with their daughters, who are taught positive values, these dynamics are not intertwined with the main storyline.
The issues addressed are typical of coming-of-age in all its forms – both literary and filmic -, but they are too superficial due to the style adopted for the staging. On paper The surf girls it could have been a series for kids with many interesting ideas, but the yield leaves something to be desired. There funny, but rough script and is not supported by the unconvincing acting.
The mysteries which Sam and Jade find themselves facing quickly becoming very repetitive and without that supernatural aura that would certainly have given an extra gear. Also the relationship between the two friends is not very thorough. The initial frictions did not find the time to develop adequately due to the limited time (the episodes lasted just over 25 minutes), Sam and Jade have opposite and not very multifaceted characters: of them we only know that one loves adventure, the other science, passions that affect their way of investigating but that add little or nothing to the story.
A flat direction and a poorly curated script prevents The surf girls to make a qualitative leap
The series is reminiscent of the shows that populated the Disney Channel both for the visual rendering and for the far too childish acting, a style that does not suit contemporary seriality. Only the settings and photography try to make the product more refined on an aesthetic level, but the result is not supported by a well-defined story. The Californian town brings to mind summer and holidays, a perfect setting that would be the perfect backdrop for any drama, but not for a series whose workhorse should be the supernatural.
Although the target audience is very young so it is right that the series does not use horror or overly disturbing elements, American Young fails to create an aura of mystery and tension even when the series requires it. Even the soundtrack, overly simple and composed only of cheerful jingles, it doesn’t help by embracing the pop genre which – even in this case – does not always go with events.
Because of these flaws The surf girls it hardly meets the appreciation of an audience other than the one the show is intended for, but it remains a fun and light TV series suitable for younger viewers.
Final grade 1.8