sugar rush
(season 1)

2005

Producer: Johnny Capps

There was a moment in the third episode of Sugar Rush when I really started to bond with Kim, the main character who is obsessed with Sugar, her best friend. Convinced she either has to shag Sugar or explode, Kim contemplates slipping something in Sugar's drink and having sex with her while she's unconscious. In Kim's own words, "Since when was date rape a legitimate form of seduction?"

Well, never obviously, but thus are the powers of reasoning of a hormone-ridden fifteen year old girl. I'd say the vast majority of us can understand. That first crush on our best friend that made us think we would die if we never got to touch her? That never-ending feeling of horniess coupled with inadequacy? Learning to masturbate when we discovered that anything that vibrated was our friend?

OK, maybe not that last part, but I'm sure there are some who can relate. Personally I thought Kim's choice, an electric toothbrush, seemed like a rather painful sounding option. But, let's get serious for a moment. This is a British TV show about a teenage girl who is in love with her female best friend. Kim doesn't for a second question that she's queer. It isn't her sexuality that's the problem, it's how to make the utterly self-absorbed, slutty Sugar notice her. Plus, in the beginning it's a downright giggle fest. I'd be impressed, if I weren't busy being so damned jealous.

Yes, you heard me, jealous! After all, I spent all my teenage years wondering if there was even a word for who and what I was, and today's teenagers get cool, sexy shows like Sugar Rush and South of Nowhere? While I don't think Sugar Rush is quite as objectively good as season one of South of Nowhere, it isn't half as earnest and might suit teenagers who prefer a few more laughs with their angst. No matter what, it's still more than many of us could have dreamed of having, just 10-15 years ago. Yes, kids today have it all. The good thing is, regardless of what age you are, you can still watch shows like this and get a kick out of it.

Kim gets into all kinds of scrapes, and devises a whole bunch of devious plots, in her war to win Sugar over. Meanwhile, Kim's parents are going through a relationship breakdown after Kim's mother has an affair with the decorator. Kim's little brother thinks he's an alien and spends the first four episodes either painted blue all over or wearing a goldfish bowl on his head. Sugar herself is pretty much the town bike - even at fifteen. Almost all the guys in Brighton have had a ride. She even gets crabs to show for it. But Kim keeps ploughing on with one goal in mind, to lose her virginity to the girl of her dreams.

I think my favourite part of each episode is the fifteen or twenty seconds at the beginning when Kim explains who she is, what she wants and gives a brief overview of the latest madcap events of her life. It is an awesome variation on the classic "previously on" segment, and segues beautifully into whatever this week's catastrophe happens to be. Kim is sarcastic, witty, self-deprecating, and far too clever for her own good.

The show is narrated by Kim, kind of in the style of a lesbian Adrian Mole. All the classic signs of the British teen are present. Desperate crush - check. Spotty skin - check. Plaid skirts and school uniforms - check. Oddly gawky-yet-compassionate teenage heroine - check. Slightly tragic - check. The language might be a bit of a head-tickler for the Americans in the audience. I'm pretty used to the fierce, British vernacular and even I found myself rewinding a few times for context, but you do get used to it.

On top of the overall cool quirkiness of the show is the rocking soundtrack. A good theme song is essential, and while first season South of Nowhere rocked away every week to The Donnas' "I Don't Wanna Know", Sugar Rush uses the classic Blondie hit "One Way or Another". In the very first episode as this tune fades, the show kicks into The Faders' "No Sleep Tonight", a song already oft-used in the equally quirky and cool hit Veronica Mars. So the inspired music choices continue, matching each scene remarkably well and keeping to the overall feeling of the show. After all, the key to a good soundtrack is like choosing the right accessories for the perfect outfit - its has to accentuate the show without overpowering it, and give the whole package that extra edge.

I'm not going to give away if the girl gets the girl. Let's just say that the conclusion feels just right after the buildup we get, and that after the fun and frivolity of the season's first half we get to see the darker side of teenage obsession as we're led towards the end. After all, Kim can't stay naive and virginal forever, and this rite of passage is a rollercoaster of pleasure and pain. On the way though, there are some near-perfect moments. The acting is pretty great, particularly by Olivia Hallinan and Lenora Critchlow as our young leads, and the writing evocative.

I have been told that the series strays a little far from the book for some fans' liking, but I've never been a stickler for accuracy in adapting source material. What I'm looking for is something that has flavour and can sustain its premise right through to the end without losing my interest. Sugar Rush does that, and has introduced a cast of characters I'll probably revisit often, just for the pure fun of it.

Kick on for more fun in Sugar Rush 2.

Got a comment? Write to me at nancyamazon@gmail.com

 

 

Last updated: 2 Aug 2013