Why Dance Academy is so great…

Dance Academy is an Australian teen drama which first aired in 2010, ran for 3 seasons and one movie which made it into Australian Cinemas. Dance Academy follows the lives of a group of teens attending the National Academy of Dance in Sydney. These kids were primed to join the Australian Ballet Company once they graduated if they were the best few. It is currently on Netflix if you’re interested in checking it out or re-watching! I grew up watching Dance Academy, it made me want to be a dancer or an athlete. However, I think it was a bit late for any of that.

So, here are all the things that I think make Dance Academy so great to this day and make me able to still enjoy it 10 years later.

Despite the actual ‘elite’ talent of the teens and their living away from home, Dance Academy is incredibly realistic to the teen experience. They show young teens making stupid mistakes over and over. It represents the real issues of eating disorders in teens, explores sexuality, cheating, hard work. Kat even has an identity crisis which I think is incredibly relatable to many teens who may discover they aren’t as about sure what they want to do after school than they once were, or realize that they don’t know at all. Kat portrayed this in her move away from dance before she returned realizing her passion and working hard to get where she wanted to be.

Dance Academy also dealt with illness and grief. Ben is a cancer survivor who in the movie has a ‘relapse’ and has to come to terms with his limits. The loss of their friend, Sammy honestly broke me and still hurts me when I watch it.

It talks about familial expectations and how hard they can push one. Working your way through school to support oneself. Sammy has a real struggle with his family throughout the whole show.

It also takes a hard look at how complicated friendships are in teen years and how hard it can be to know who your real friends are.

Body image issues and eating disorders need to be explored more in teen shows because it is such a common problem and Dance Academy did that. They looked at eating disorders and body image in elite athletes.

It also tackles crime with Christian’s past and upbringing in that world and Abigail’s shoplifting. They showed sexual assault as well.

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Another realistic portrayal they presented was athletes and injury, athletes get injured often and keep going through the pain, this is exactly what happens in the show and it also presents how detrimental this can be for athletes.

Additionally, it portrays financial hardship, both Sam and Tara need a scholarship to keep attending because neither Sammy on his own or Tara’s family can afford to send them to the Academy.

Another important aspect for me about Dance Academy is, the actors they chose could genuinely dance. As opposed to other shows like Blue Water High (no shade) where actors are chosen as actors but can’t actually do the exact thing their character does. All of these actors were athletes. There was no need for stunt doubles or cutting scenes to avoid the face of the actor.

I also just feel like there is something so pure about the portrayal of the age group. While they aren’t incredibly young they also aren’t in their late teens which means that there are some cringey embarrassing moments and a lot of personal growth and self discovery. Had they set the ages as older the show would likely have revolved largely around bitchyness and sex but they chose teens who were still largely children. So yes, there is some crime in Dance Academy but I think that is so genuine to the age group, unlike shows like ‘Never Have I Ever’ (check out my thoughts on it here https://simplymythoughts.blog/2020/08/29/never-have-i-ever-been-less-impressed/), the cringe is so normal, its teens acting like teens worried about pimples and if the boy likes them.

Dance Academy showed that with hard work you can reach above and beyond. Tara began her time at the academy as one of the worst trained dancers in her year and became one of the best through hard work and determination. However, it isn’t unrealistic about how having a dream isn’t always enough especially as an athlete.

Keiynan Lonsdale also came from Dance Academy – you may recognize him from The Flash, Love Simon or Work It.

The Movie:

Honestly, the movie really didn’t disappoint me, I feel like I was prepared to be a little disappointed by it because when it came out I was 17 and following up 5 years after the end of Dance Academy, I was worried. But it really didn’t disappoint me, I feel like the movie in a way grew up with the original audience showing them working in the industry and the issues they’re still facing. The only disappointing part for me was how little Christian was in it, but, at least he came back. Almost all of the original cast came back for the reunion movie which I think is great. I also think it was quite exciting to be able to watch the movie on a cinema screen with the Dolby Atmos sound.

So, to sum up, I believe Dance Academy stood the test of time over my youth. I think it was super well done and showcased a lot of issues in a relatable and realistic way. Also, I love dance and any dance movies or tv shows so that was exciting. And we gotta support the Aussie television industry somehow. Don’t forget you can watch Dance Academy on Netflix now!

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Main character syndrome…

I don’t now if anyone else feels this but I seem to have a slight issue with likeability of main characters in lots of television. This can make it hard for me to watch some of these shows which I really do like, except I don’t like the main character or main love interest. Now this isn’t all shows, some shows I really appreciate the main character or main love interest but for many of the shows I love I seem to find the main characters irritating. I am curious if this is a phenomenon others experience or these are my own issues or choice writing. So, I’m going to refer to this as main character syndrome – making the main character or love interest of the main character un-apologetically boring, cliche or just the least likeable of the characters. Here’s some examples for you;

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Meredith Grey (Grey’s Anatomy)

I find Meredith a terrible friend most of the time, starting with George and ending with being a poor sister to Amelia (okay sister-in-law) and Lexi (half-sister). She also is just very whiney and selfish in my opinion. I feel like she definitely has her moments where she is a good character but across the board she is standoffish, rude and not understanding.

Derek Shepard (Grey’s Anatomy) –

Derek is so manipulative from the start and I feel like people forget that he lied about being married, then chose to stay with his wife instead of Meredith, got all angry about her being with other men before finally choosing to be with her. He is incredibly condescending towards the other characters and needs to be the best. I cannot stand team Derek and he honestly impacts my feelings towards Meredith making me like her even less. Derek has to be in charge and has to be in the spotlight even if he truly isn’t the best. But characters in the show constantly say how good a guy he is, honestly show me where! Not so Mr. Dreamy to me….

Clarry Fairchild (Shadow Hunters)

Clarry is so incredibly irritating to me, I have the utmost respect for her actress but she leads Simon on for years then instantly starts dating Jace, finds out he’s her brother so goes on to date Simon but really still loves Jace then finds out Jace isn’t her brother and goes back to him. She also makes everything about her (although, I guess a lot of the problems facing them are about her) and she kind of just walks into the Institute having never held a weapon and suddenly everyone (except Alec) is cool with her and she can fight super quickly.

Elena Gilbert (The Vampire Diaries) –

Elena Gilbert is boring. She is a boring girl who just happened to be a doppelganger but early on in TVD she has no substance to me. She’s just playing through the motions of her life not being active in any of it. Admittedly I do think her character improves as she becomes a vampire but in the beginning everything about her screams bland from her fashion to her hair to her personality. The only interesting things about her were that her parents were dead and Katherine (who was a far more interesting character with way more depth).

Marissa Cooper (The OC) –

I have very few words for Marissa I just really couldn’t stand her, I couldn’t even make it to her death because she irritated me so much I had to stop watching. Ryan wasn’t particularly likeable to me either but in my opinion he was far better as a character all the times him and Marissa weren’t together. Marissa was just so self-destructive.

Stefan Salvatore (The Vampire Diaries) –

As Elena said, Stefan is the safe option, he’s the one who listens, but he’s also very bland. The most interesting thing about Stefan for me is his addiction but a characters addiction should not be the most interesting thing about them. If Elena and Stefan had ended up together their lives really would have been as boring as if she had stayed human and married Matt (no shade to Matt). He also really needs to get over Elena faster, it is so boring watching Stefan love Elena and not understand that she loves Damon even if he’s bad for her. He also really dogs Caroline for a long time before they finally get together.


Detective Stabler (Special Victims Unit) –

Detective Stabler is a bad cop, he just is, he is a poor investigator, he’s way too opinionated about the cases and the people involved (I guess so is Olivia but hey), he is constantly using unnecessary force against the public and he is always rude especially to Olivia. I for one am not excited to see Stabler return to SVU in the coming seasons.

Alison DiLaurentis (Pretty Little Liars) –

Alison DiLaurentis, whilst not entirely a main character in PLL I will still discuss. She’s a terrible friend obviously, she used so many people before and after she ran away ranging from her friends to the pilot she dated so she could live a double life to the Police. Then after years of screwing with Emily and marrying someone else they decide they should be together. Alison has to be my least favourite of Emily’s love interests and I really think Emily got a bad bunch compared to the other characters. Alison also completely disregards her friends feelings all the time but especially towards Charlotte in the flash forward. She is also obviously extremely manipulative.


Tara Webster (Dance Academy) –

Now this one might be a bit more obscure, for those who don’t know, Dance Academy is an Australian teen drama about Ballet dancers in the National Academy of Dance and I have a lot to say about it that might make it into it’s own dedicated blog but for now…. Tara is the main character. Bland, untalented, childish. I can’t understand how Tara got into the academy but when she’s there, she blatantly ignores her teachers, goes straight for her best friends brother, risking their friendship, then cheats and basically ignores Kat most of the time. She’s entirely self-obsessed and boy crazy.


Duncan Kane (Veronica Mars) –

Duncan Kane sleeps with Veronica while thinking she’s his sister. He is also incredibly boring and acts like a child in my opinion. Dates the popular girl – effectively using her because Veronica ‘is his sister’ until she wants him back. Then he literally runs off with his ex-girlfriends (and his) baby. GOOD RIDDANCE. Now I love Veronica Mars and I get not everyone likes Logan, and yes, Veronica and him were quite toxic but I have to love them, two very flawed individuals trying their best to love each other even if it doesn’t work sometimes. But Duncan for me was the worst of the show.


Hannah Baker (13 Reasons Why)

Hannah Baker is a sad story, I’ll give you that. It is upsetting to watch the events in her life unfold up to her suicide, But… she decided she would bulldoze everyone else’s life in the process of ending hers which feels like payback. Was everything that each character did bad, yes, but was it worth blaming them for your death, I don’t think so. Had Bryce Walker not raped Hannah Baker she likely would not have committed suicide, so to blame the other characters for taking her notes and writing her name on a hot list is offensive. It makes for a good story about the impact of small actions however it doesn’t make me care for her character as a character.

Rae (My Mad Fat Diary)

Rae was such a strange character to me, obviously she was dealing with a lot of personal issues throughout the show and a lot of those were relatable for the audience. But honestly, I felt like you almost couldn’t root for her because she behaved so terribly and she treated her friends poorly, treated Finn poorly because of her own insecurities and was terrible to her mother the entire series. I can’t understand why they made the main character a character who I couldn’t fully get behind or fully root for. All her friends were more likeable than her and more interesting. I respect My Mad Fat Diary for really going over body image issues as a core to this show, but, Rae for me wasn’t the character to look to for personal growth and becoming confident and accepting of your own body and prioritizing health. If you’d like to hear more on My Mad Fat Diary let me know in the comments.

A few other notable mentions for me include Clarke from The 100, Wes from How to Get Away With Murder, Finn from Glee, Tori from Victorious, Rory Gilmore and Emma from the Netflix Original Scream.

Those are just a few examples of what I have decided to call ‘main character syndrome’. I find it very confusing why shows make their main character so boring and irritating. It can seriously impact my willingness to watch a show if I dislike the main character or love interests. Would it not be better to have compelling main characters who show personal growth. Take The Vampire Diaries, Caroline for me is the best character in the show, she is compassionate, confident, caring, powerful and a great friend. But she didn’t start off that way, she grew over the course of the series. BUT, Caroline isn’t the lead, she’s a main character but TVD is undeniable about Elena, Stefan and Damon. What purpose does it have to make your lead uninteresting?

Please let me know if you’ve ever noticed this or if you have any other main character/love interests to add to this list. Thanks for reading!