ConStar’s Pilot Watch: Red Band Society

Red Band Society was not on my list of shows to watch. I just didn’t have too much interest in it and I don’t often purposefully watch things that might be sad.  I’m not one to watch something that I know will be sad going in. I’m an action, fantasy, magical plot kind of girl; if it happens to be sad, I’ll deal and be sad too, but then it’s back to fun and magic and superpowers. And I definitely expected this to be sad–sick kids in a children’s hospital? Obviously very Fault in Our Stars. While The New Yorker TV Critic Emily Nussbaum proclaims the two aren’t the same at all—she also make a good point, the show is tailor-made for fans of that book. Emily’s opinion is that Fault is better—richer, deeper characters—but I’m giving RBS the benefit of a pilot. The Fault in Our Stars has book level character depth—given over the course of a hundreds of pages. RBS must delve out its development slower and across more characters. What might seem like “caricature” in a pilot might evolve to greater depth as we get to spend time with each character (which goes back to my giving Mulaney a second-episode chance). All this to say, I wasn’t expecting to want to watch more of this show, but I do.

I don’t have too much more to say other than I really liked the character dynamics between the kids. I loved that the black kid (I can’t remember his name right now) was SUCH a New York black kid. I love that he talks like people I’ve met, kids I’ve met. He felt real in his actions, so I hope he gets more character development along the way. Octavia Spencer was wonderful, both scary and sweet, clearly good at her job and also caring about her knucklehead patients. There’s little groundwork for arcs for all the characters, just the cheerleader and the new kid dealing with the treatment of their new diseases, but I’m excited to see where they’ll take all of this.

It was lovely and fun and teenage, presenting the same tropes as a high school sitcom in a new way, while also being a little fantastical and light-hearted as well. I’m hoping that with it’s diverse audience, that the characters of color get equal screen time, but also that maybe some actors with real life disabilities get to appear on the show. I can’t help but think of RJ Mitte, who has cerebal palsy and was awesome on Breaking Bad. And I believe there is a show on ABC Family that features a hearing-impaired character played by an actual hearing-impaired actress. I would love for this show to allow actors with disabilities to shine, especially since this is a show intended to be watched by young people and it would really allow them to see themselves in society and allow others to see them as people rather than just see them by their disability. This show could be a beacon for representation across cultures and capabilities.

Verdict: Adding to my fall schedule. I really, really enjoyed this one.

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