Parents' Guide to

Step Up: High Water

By Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Quality dance drama harnesses original film's energy.

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With meaty drama, appealing actors, well-written twists, and electrifying dance sequences, this series gives viewers plenty to chew on. Like the original 2006 movie, Step Up: High Water sets the dance action in an arts school -- in this case, the titular High Water, which prepares students age 16-25 for a career in the arts, but, significantly, doesn't offer grades or a high school diploma, a major fly in the ointment for Tal and Janelle, whose plans include college before professional dance careers. Even stickier: Tal, a confident gay man, hatches a major crush on his hot party-promoter next-door neighbor, while Janelle immediately makes a High Water enemy in Poppy (Kendra Oyesanya) when she pals around with Poppy's flirtatious ex-boyfriend Rigo (Terrence Green).

Rigo, it turns out, has risky associates -- in particular East-O (R. Marcos Taylor), a man about whom Tal and Janelle's Uncle Al says "if you see him in your vicinity, change your vicinity." Viewers will see trouble ahead for Tal and Janelle, but the bad-news vibe is lightened significantly by Al, who's given to such hilarious bon mots as "Atlanta's home to many world-famous institutions -- and we don't live by none of that s--t," and itemizing the nearby establishments in the neighborhood in which he runs his Wigs & Wangs combo store/restaurant: "Shoe store, liquor store, pawn shop, church; cellular store, liquor store, pawn shop, church." No, High Water and its students, Al, and Atlanta weren't a part of Tal and Janelle's life plan, but as Tal says: "In case you didn't notice, life doesn't give a s--t about your plans." But if moving, funny, immersive dance dramas are a part of your life plan, you may want to plan some time to binge this rewarding series.

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