The Next Step

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
The Next Step TV Poster Image
Popular with kids
High-drama reality-style series explores peer pressure.

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 19 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 41 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Bullying and peer pressure are explored from the perspectives of numerous characters, showing viewers how this kind of behavior affects every part of a group. The popularity queen manipulates and blackmails her peers for their loyalty, and many follow suit for a sense of power by association. Others dissent in small ways, whether befriending Emily's victims, speaking out against her behavior, or simply steering clear of the drama. The content touches on social issues such as feeling excluded and wanting to be part of the "in" crowd in a thoughtful way, but there's a lot of negative behavior that helps illustrate the messages. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Emily uses fear and manipulation to ensure her lofty popularity, and she excludes some peers (even those who have been friends in the past) to maintain a certain prestige. Her loyal E-Girls usually do her bidding without question, but there are a couple whose own values or life situations cause them to question Emily's actions, particularly when her selfishness threatens the success of the dance troupe. On the other hand, Michelle's strong team mentality benefits the group, even as Emily attempts to sabotage her. Adults seem aware of the power struggle at play but unwilling to step in to help unless it affects the team's performance. A diverse cast includes boys and girls as well as a variety of ethnicities. Some characters are LGBTQ and are represented naturally and positively. 


Some flirting between teens. A boy's obsessive and unrequited crush on the popularity queen is a frequent topic. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Next Step is a reality-style drama series that deals thoughtfully with social issues such as status, bullying, and peer pressure. A manipulative social queen persuades others to sabotage a sympathetic new girl's attempts to fit in, and, although it doesn't always sit well with everyone, teens aren't quick to stand against the tide. The in-crowd lives by a set of rules (literally -- they refer to them by number) that upholds their privilege by excluding everyone else, even when it means severing existing friendships. That said, the fact that the show sets a stage of such drastic social inequality yields shining examples in those who eventually shrug off the pressure and do what's right by deserving characters. Because there's no sex, drinking, or violence, this show is geared toward kids as well as tweens, but be sure yours can separate the good from the bad in the teens' relationships with each other. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 9-year-old Written byPaul_Worthing_UK December 11, 2017

Soap opera for tweens who love dance

My 9 year old daughter thinks this is the best thing ever. Her previous loves were H20 and Little Lunch (both Australian), and she also likes Victorious (US) bu... Continue reading
Parent of a 13-year-old Written byApril W. May 31, 2017

Nice, clean show for preteens and young teens

I love this series and I'm a 50 year old woman! I'm not much for dance shows, but this show is more than just dance. It's basically a teen soap... Continue reading
Kid, 9 years old May 29, 2020


So, what you would want to know, and what I wish I knew, is that they change characters every season. And then there is no main character. And in the last two s... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old March 12, 2017

Quite good.

It's a great show. There is absolutely no violence whatsoever. There is some flirting and kisses and most of the teens in the show has tough relationships... Continue reading

What's the story?

It's a new year at The Next Step Dance Studio, and hopes are high for a win at regionals for the in-house competitive team known as A-Troupe. As auditions begin, veteran team members expect repeat roster spots, and aspiring dancers vie for a few coveted openings, but an accomplished newcomer named Michelle (Victoria Baldesarra) arrives and shakes up the status quo. No one is more unhappy with the change than two-time team captain Emily (Alexandra Beaton), who goes to drastic measures to protect her social status atop an exclusive in-crowd called the E-Girls from an unwitting Michelle. But, as time goes by, drama and personnel changes rattle the team structure, challenging the dancers' resolve to go all in for big wins at competitions.

Is it any good?

THE NEXT STEP is a scripted drama series filmed like a reality show, with a constant back-and-forth between observational segments and tell-all confessionals with individual characters. Given that it centers on two highly charged subjects -- teen relations and competitive dance -- it's never lacking drama, which bodes well for drawing in young viewers. The show shirks most iffy content that some other teen-centered series sensationalize, so you won't have to worry about allusions to sex, teen drinking, or strong language of any kind. What's more, many of the characters emerge as decent role models either through their devotion to and passion for dance or through some pretty strong mettle in standing up to strong peer pressure.

And, speaking of peer pressure, The Next Step's most striking quality is the obtrusive presence of an unapologetic mean girl in Emily, who uses her social status to dominate her peers. She's scheming and cruel for purely selfish reasons, and she uses manipulation and feigned affection to control her friends, which wins over several of the characters at one point or another. But, although her actions play out like a how-to book on bullying, they do serve an important purpose in posing moral dilemmas that may look familiar to kids. Not all the characters manage to rise above the social pressure, but, when one does, it's an example that's worth holding up to your kids. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why Emily acts the way she does. Why is popularity so important to her? Is she a good friend to her peers? How does the structure of social status impede positive relationships? Are situations like this one inevitable among teens, or can they be avoided?

  • Tweens: Have you ever experienced peer pressure? Why is it difficult to hold to your convictions when they differ from what other kids think? How does it feel to be the center of attention for this kind of reason?

  • The characters in this show are chasing their dreams of dance excellence. What are your kids' dreams for the future? Are they willing to work hard to accomplish them? What are they doing now to move toward those dreams? 

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love tween TV and movies

Themes & Topics

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