The start of Tegan and Sara’s autobiographical High School starts out with a bang. From loud music to questioning self, it’s a dark rollercoaster of growing up queer in the ’90s when things were starting to be more acknowledged but still entirely messy and complicated.
Screener Review On High School
Scrappy and sapphic, this reflection on the lives of pop-duo Tegan and Sara’s teen years digs deep and reminds us how much a struggle it is to be who we are, and there isn’t a right path.
Watch it on FreeVee (formerly IMDBtv) this Friday, 14th October.
The first episode literally has a punch to the face and from there, every single moment continues to hit hard. We join Tegan and Sara in the explosive entrance to high school, after they’ve moved to the ‘burbs and spent a summer growing apart.
Sara has become introverted and quiet, spending all her time with her best friend Phoebe, while Tegan continues to be the extrovert. Their mom (played by the amazing Cobie Smulders) doesn’t really understand why, even though she’s studying child psychology. Why did these girls go from crying about being in separate classrooms to punching each other?
But even as they’ve drifted apart, both Tegan and Sara are beginning the road of adult romance. Having feelings for other girls is normal but at 15 neither really wants to address the names of what it is they’re feeling and for whom. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before, but director Clea Duvall really turns our normal expectations onto their ear.
This is not a sitcom. There are laughs but this series takes those bright, fun, colors of a sitcom house and mutes them down, giving us that grittier reminder of the nicotine toned memories from those yellowish streetlights we knew in the ’90s. Each 30 minute episode ends without a clear conclusion and happy feelings, instead letting us ruminate.
Again, though, this is not a Riverdale teen drama. We get long moments of silence and introspection that illustrate just how much the kids (and the adults) are going through. There’s no frenetic race to the next high-stakes adventure. We stay deep in everyone’s psyche and think about the changes in life and the changes of friendship and family.
And there is no rush to be who we are.
Watch High School this Friday on Freevee.