March 28, 2009

Taking the Stage

It's been flying under the radar, but Taking the Stage is the most refreshing new MTV show since the debut of Laguna Beach five years ago. Following the romantic and artistic adventures of five seniors at Cincinnati's School for Creative and Performing Arts.

Doesn't the premise sound an awful lot like Fame? Yep, but fortunately, the reality show far outstrips the movie or TV fictionalized versions. Four of the five stars are in the dance program, including the radiant prima ballerina, Jasmine, and her love interest, the hip-hopper Tyler. The exception is Mia, a talented singer-songwriter who loses a boyfriend and is confronted by the attention of her so-called platonic best friend.

Despite some of the cliches of the genre (both of the first two episodes end with dance-offs), other elements feel fresh. Malik, a talented dancer-choreographer, is gay, which seems to matter not one whit to any of his straight friends. Jasmine has never been on a date before, and yet both she and her suitor, avoid the Save the Last Dance
cliches.

The kids on Taking the stage are the antidote to the jaded slackers on The Hills. After only two episodes, not only are the five stars vivid "characters," but so are many of their friends. What a pleasure to watch a show with talented, attractive kids who love what they do. Teenagers who don't whine -- what a concept.

You can catch the first two episodes online at the link above. They are also being rerun tomorrow, Sunday, at 8:00 and 9:00 a.m. New episodes play on Thursday nights at 10:00 p.m.