There's Something Dangerous About the Boredom of Teenage Girls | Page to Screen: My Thoughts on the Premiere Episode of Dare Me

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At last! One of Megan Abbott's best works has officially made its way to our television screens and I couldn't be more happy. The first time that I read Dare Me was in the form of a hardcover from the library that was littered with cigarette burns on its pages and cover. Looking back, I realize that it was all too fitting for what lay under its cover: the complexities of girlhood in a small town.


Megan Abbott's characters are entirely unforgettable and that alone makes for a difficult task in adapting them for the small screen. 

Each and every one is driven by something that readers see so intimately in Abbott's prose. Their essence burrows under your skin. They vary in ages but each come to life so strongly, you feel as though every word or expression comes in the form of the tip of a knife desire, and something like fear, pressed against your skin. It is what makes Megan Abbott one of my literary voices of all time. And her prose isn't one that is easy to adapt.

(So, admittedly, I was nervous.) 

Fortunately for fans and newcomers, USA Network's hotly anticipated adaptation of the novel just premiered in the most stunning of ways. The pilot episode alone captures everything you've yet to feel about Dare Me. It passes by in a haze; in hypnotic, neon flashes of youth. It teases you into its brand of tension, intrigue and mystery. 

It is, in short, the perfect introduction to Dare Me.

Coming of age tales are hard to capture at all angles but like its source material the show does so in the most addictive and tense way possible. As atmospheric, snarky, bleak and angsty as the novel, the first episode leads viewers into what is bound to be an unforgettable and intriguing tale of small town life and the inner workers of one cheerleading squad. Dare Me proves to be anything but ordinary in its exploration of mean girls and mysteries. 

It is enjoyable and by far one of my favourite pilot episodes of shows that are adapted from books. As I type this, I'm already itching to reread the book and rewatch the pilot, which is something that hasn't happened since Sharp Objects and season one of You. Dare Me left me dizzy with emotion and anticipation, all but shouting more, more, more at my television.

Viewers will be compelled by this fast paced series. Dare Me extends itself to push the limits of not only girlhood, but life, ambition, sexuality, friendship, murder and the tug of power struggles. Dare Me is lead by a spectacular cast of talented young women: Herizen Guardiola shines as Addy, Beth is brought to life by Marlo Kelly and the role of mentor comes to be in Willa Fitzgerald's Colette. Each actress, and character, stands firmly to create the complexities at hand.
Adaptations are only as good as their source material and the team behind it. Dare Me benefits from brilliance all around. Based on pilot episode alone Dare Me knows how to play up the stories at hand and build onto them in a way that is both organic and new. Already, it's working diligently to honor the novel, adjust itself to modern times (I know, saying this feels weird to me since the book was published in 2012) and break ground on new story telling opportunities. 

In addition to the novel's original plotlines, we're given a glimpse into the life of every person tangled in the narrative--an added layer that makes the story all the more compulsively enjoyable. You see, very quickly, the implications of exactly what these young women are capable of.  

Dare Me's tone unsettles and reminds us that we don't know what these characters are capable of. 

It is enthralling and achingly so. It is about more than just the boredom of teenage girls: it is about  love, the co-dependency of life long friends and new mentors, and the dangers of small-towns and their secrets. And the loudness of girlhood as it weaves into the grayness of adulthood.

At the end of the day: USA Network has a hit on their hands. Dare Me is complex and destructive, angsty and so full of life.  

The cinematography is gorgeous, the acting is passionate and compelling. Dare Me is elevated even further by colours, music, cheer routines and more. The pilot episode is a balancing act that is worthy of every sparkle of praise and must-see.

Dare Me could have easily fallen into the same tedious patterns that book-to-television translations have reached in the past. Meaning, it could loose sight on what's essential to the central arches. But, it doesn't. The build-up to the story and the crime that takes place is going to be a slow burn that, if continued to be done right, will be nothing short of satisfying story-telling. 

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