The prequel series Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies has been charged with ’50s era inconsistencies that disregard the prominent creative liberties made in the 1978 film, Grease. Although Rise of the Pink Ladies holds some magical appeal as a modern musical television series set to imagine the origin of the famous girl crew, it faces a fair amount of backlash for its depiction of the nostalgic 1950s period that inspired the legacy of Rydell High and its students. Taking place four years before the events of Grease, the prequel observes four young ladies as they carve their own narratives through a more conservative generation.
Jane (Marisa Davila), Olivia (Cheyenne Isabel Wells), Cynthia (Ari Notartomaso), and Nancy (Tricia Fukuhara) powerfully sing and dance to the beat of their own drums, only to be heckled by the moral panic of Rydell, a reaction that is reproduced by disgruntled audiences who watch on. Viewers have cited a diverse cast, modern themes and lyrics, and an increased consideration of gender and race as ’50s era inconsistencies that disengage the nostalgia of the period and uniformity with the 1978 Grease film. However, the Rise of the Pink Ladies era complaints largely ignore the era inconsistencies present in Grease that contributed to the success of the film then and now.
Grease Didn’t Perfectly Reflect The ’50s
What may come as a shock to some is that Grease included its own 1950s inconsistencies as well. Some irregularities to the period are minor and largely overlooked – like automobiles from the 1970s passing in the background, the operation of ’70s specific amps and jukeboxes, and even “class of” banners that hang in the distance for students who graduated in the ’70s. While there are several inconsiderable anachronisms portrayed in Grease, there are also some more substantial period irregularities in the musical that would detriment ’50s nostalgia if viewed with the same level of seriousness Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies is affected by.
Certain words and lingo used in the original musical Grease (such as “dork” and “Rama Lama Ding Dong”) were introduced into society after the ’50s. Additionally, ’70s disco culture influences a fair amount of Greases’s soundtrack; notable examples include Barry Gibbs of the Bee Gees writing the theme song “Grease” and “Born to Hand Jive” having disco beats and instrumentation that are reminiscent of the 1970s. In a much broader perspective, ’50s era students wouldn’t have had the relationship with adults to rebel, as open defiance to authoritarian figures would not have surfaced until later in history – regardless, these are all palpable reasons as to why Grease did not perfectly reflect the ’50s.
Rise of The Pink Ladies And Grease Are Modern Explorations
With this in mind, it should be considered that Grease was not meant to be a perfect representation of the 1950s era, but a means to explore the modern day through the frame of a more nostalgic time. Whether it meant to or not, Grease explored ’70s ideals of freedom, adventure, and sexual revolution in a ’50s environment where those ideals were either nonexistent or only just beginning to emerge. Numerous critics and reviewers have even gone so far as to dub Grease a satire of the 1950s period.
If this indeed is the case, Rise of the Pink Ladies fits in with the legacy of Grease quite well. Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies intends to explore the modern ideals of gender equality and race relations through the perspective of the 1950s and the precedent of its 1978 sequel, Grease. Although Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies has already received substantial backlash, the series has only just begun and still has a chance to inspire success like its predecessor has done before.
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