Soap Opera Weekly: Blogging With Mala

Hi, my name is Mala, and I’m addicted to MAKE IT OR BREAK IT. My colleague Joe Diliberto was feeling alone in his love, so I decided to reveal that I, too, have fallen under the spell of this cracktastically awesome show.

It’s probably no surprise to anyone that ABC Family, the network that has sequel-ed BRING IT ON and THE CUTTING EDGE into oblivion, has its own snarky, drama-filled show about teenage girls involved in competitive sports. But what may surprise you — and certainly caught me by surprise — is how soapy it is.

Okay, so it shouldn’t have been THAT much of a shocker, given that Joanna Johnson (ex-Caroline/Karen, B&B) is at the helm and it co-stars Susan Ward (ex-Meg, SUNSET BEACH) as Emily’s kooky mom, Chloe. (We’re just going to ignore that Dorothy From Kansas is a teenage girl’s mother, mmkay? I refuse to process that fact.) But I know that ABC Family tends to give many people pause, because it runs the 700 CLUB in the mornings and THE SECRET LIFE OF THE AMERICAN TEENAGER (basically a sex-obsessed version of 7TH HEAVEN) heads its Monday night lineup. The thing is, ABCF is also the channel that airs GREEK — one of the most underrated and brilliant dramedies on air right now — and the channel that gave the hilarious THE MIDDLEMAN a shot. It’s a network that encompasses all genres and has something for everyone.

That’s a description that fits MAKE IT OR BREAK IT to a tee. There’s cattiness, romance, tons of gymnastics training and performance sequences, parent/child drama, friends backstabbing each other, angst, humor…you name it, Johnson and her team have incorporated it into this prime-time soap. It actually reminds me of a more teen-friendly version of ALLES WAS ZAHLT, the German soap set around a training facility for ice skaters.

I remember talking to Cassie Scerbo (Lauren), when the first season was just about to hit. (She’s a doll, by the way, and the antithesis of her scheming character.) I kept up with the show for a few episodes but eventually got wooed away by other programming. I’m so glad I came back, because Cassie and her co-stars are in top form, just like their talented, driven characters. Lauren, Emily (Chelsea Hobbs), and Kaylie (Josie Loren) currently comprise part of the Olympics-bound U.S. National team, while their compatriot, Payson (Ayla Kell) is undergoing risky back surgery in the hopes of returning to the fold. British actor Neil Jackson plays the girls’ coach, Sasha, a former gymnast who cracks the whip, and cracks wise, as needed. As I noted higher up, Susan Ward plays Emily’s mom, and Chloe is probably my favorite character on the show. Tacky, tactless and incredibly earnest, she’s very much a fish-out-of-water amongst the other parents. And FRASIER’s Peri Gilpin and prime time vet Brett Cullen (DAMAGES, FALCON CREST) provide gravitas as Payson’s folks, Kim and Mark.

The show doesn’t always stick the landing and score a perfect 10, but it’s got a lot of heart and spirit. It’s definitely a winner in my book.

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