‘Tiny Pretty Things’ on Netflix Is Like ‘Black Swan’ Meets ‘Pretty Little Liars’


Beloved poet Langston Hughes once famously asked, “What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun? Or fester like a sore—and then run?” For the main characters of Netflix’s new teen drama Tiny Pretty Things, the answer would be: “Deferred dreams are not an option.”

The foundation of this wildly seductive melodrama, out now, rests on uncovering the mystery behind who pushed star ballerina Cassie Shore (Anna Maiche) from the rooftop of the fictitious Archer Shool of Ballet. Stemming from that central storyline is the introduction of the Chicago institution’s newest student, Neveah, played by trained dancer Kylie Jefferson, and a web of secrets and lies reminiscent of the soap operas I used to watch with my grandmother as a child. Sex, drugs, illicit affairs, and murder take viewers on an adventurous ride, turning us each into modern-day Jessica Fletchers from the comfort of our living rooms. Central to this dubious “murder” mystery—betrayal. Lots and lots of it. And the imposed pressure on the dynamic cast to achieve their dreams by any means necessary.

In high school I had my own solid goals and dreams in mind: make the honor roll, have my pick of colleges, and save enough money from my part-time bank job to have cash in hand for my freshman year. I considered myself a typical teen, trying for the first time in my life to balance academics, friendships, and extracurriculars. By my senior year I thought I was grown, but the students at Archer take “grown” to another level. While I, at their age, was similarly hoping to graduate at the top of my class, I wasn’t willing to sabotage my peers (like, cut each one of them out of the picture) in order to make it happen, nor was sleeping my way to the top even fathomable.

To his credit, creator Michael MacLennan developed a series that not only appeals to ambitious teens, but will also pique the interests of millennial adults who will find that the Black Swan–meets–Pretty Little Liars arc eventful enough to view 10 hour-long episodes. Nearly every possible teen conundrum you could think of is here, including a pill addiction, broken hearts, and inappropriate romances. Watching high school students carry on sexually with men and women far out of their age range made me concerned AF, but getting to know each one of them individually had me leaning in to the often cataclysmic plot.

Kylie Jefferson as Neveah on Netflix’s Tiny Pretty ThingsSophie Giraud/Netflix

Chief among them was Neveah, who after being treated as a diversity admission to the school by her peers, was able to make her mark in a place that once tried to ice her out. Her story development from poor girl from Compton to the celebrated voice of change gave me someone to root for amid the destructive behaviors of her classmates. And I appreciated the exploration of her tumultuous past, albeit briefly, to let spectators in on the drive and persistence she carries with her into the dance studio each day.

If viewers are looking for a plausible plot about teen life at a performing arts school, Tiny Pretty Things isn’t that. But for the telenovela-loving binge watchers who like a bit of whimsy with their programming, the drama at the Archer school has you covered.

Tiny Pretty Things is now streaming on Netflix.

Tanya Christian is a writer and editor based in New York City. Follow her on Twitter @tanyaachristian.


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