We have something to say, and we’re only going to say it once: You don’t remake classics.
When it was first announced that there would be a new Dirty Dancing for television, I was not on board at all. Why is it necessary to reboot a hit movie that is and forever will be a success? There is only one Dirty Dancing and that is the one starring Patrick Swayze as Johnny Castle and Jennifer Grey as Frances “Baby” Houseman.
How do we know this to be true, you may be asking? Because I had the opportunity to screen it. You are so welcome that I suffered through it just so you don’t have to. Oh, and guess what? It’s as bad as I had initially anticipated. There is actually one word that perfectly describes it: cringeworthy. All bashing aside, what I will say that there is some good that comes out of Dirty Dancing. By some, I mean there are four particular elements that make it slightly decent.
Rather than continuing to tease you with all of the bad and very little good, allow me to list them for you. You can be the judge on whether or not you want to take time out of your busy schedule to watch three hours of a remake that should have never been remade in the first place.
1. The women
This Dirty Dancing heavily focuses on women. The female characters are what makes this reboot somewhat decent. I felt empowered after watching these women and their stories come to life. They represent women in powerful ways.
Firstly, there is Marjorie Houseman (Debra Messing). She is so much more than Baby and Lisa’s mom and Dr. Jake Houseman’s wife. Unlike in the original, Marjorie’s character is given depth and becomes this multi-dimensional woman. She’s vulnerable, yet also strong. She wants more from life, especially from her husband. Marjorie contemplates even divorcing Jake, because he’s not giving her what she needs: happiness, love, attention, sex and a relationship. Her journey is one many women will relate to.
Secondly, there is Vivian Pressman (Katey Sagal). Like in the movie, Vivian is known for being a sexual woman, who also has a relationship with Johnny. What makes Vivian in the TV movie so fantastic is that she embraces her sexuality and doesn’t apologize for it. She’s a divorced woman doing as she pleases.
Next, there is Penny Rivera (Nicole Scherzinger). Of course, there is Penny’s abortion storyline. She shows she is in control of her body and it is her right to choose what she wants to do with it. In addition to that, there’s a scene where Penny teaches Baby to let out her inner sexual being. She shows Baby it’s OK to be sexual and sexy.
Then, there is Lisa (Sarah Hyland). She stays true to herself by standing up for what she wants from life. Baby repeatedly tells Lisa that she can be more than a wife and a mother, but Lisa defends her decision. If she wants to get married and start a family, why can’t she? Not every woman wants to focus on a career and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Finally, there is Baby (Breslin). Like in the original, Baby shows that women aren’t just wives and mothers. She wants to go to college and have a successful career. She also shows that intelligence is sexy. Baby never dumbs herself down for anyone, including men. We also have to say we love the scene where Baby tells her dad to stop calling her “Baby,” because she is a grown-ass woman. She has a name and it’s Frances.
2. The dancing
A huge part of Dirty Dancing is, well, the dancing. Thank goodness ABC’s adaptation didn’t ruin that. Scherzinger will captivate you with her dancing, just like she did when she won Dancing With the Stars. Seriously, she is flawless. The dance scenes, including all the “dirty dancing” ones, are something everyone will enjoy.
Where has J. Quinton Johnson (Everybody Wants Some!) been our entire lives? He plays Marco, a lead singer and guitarist in Tito’s (Billy Dee Williams) band at Kellerman’s.
He dances. He sings. He will make you swoon. Seriously, once you first hear Quinton’s voice, you’ll probably pass out from his smoothness. Thank goodness both Marco and Quinton were added to the reboot, because at least viewers have something and someone to enjoy.
4. This relationship
Lisa has more than one love interest in the remake. In addition to douchebag Robbie (Shane Harper) who she shuts down almost immediately after he tries to take advantage of her, sparks fly between Lisa and Marco. Of course, seeing as this takes place in the early ’60s, interracial relationships are not common or welcomed with open arms. However, that doesn’t stop Lisa and Marco.
We appreciate that this version of Dirty Dancing incorporates this romance, because interracial relationships seem to rarely be featured in TV and movies. Yes, they are becoming shown more on the small and big screen nowadays, but diversity could hugely be improved upon in the entertainment industry. There needs to be more of a diverse representation in Hollywood.
1. Casper Smart
If you weren’t aware, Casper Smart (yes, the man who once dated Jennifer Lopez) plays Johnny’s cousin, Billy. It’s not a huge role and basically all anyone remembers Billy for is carrying watermelons with Baby. That said, this particular Dirty Dancing made a lot of changes, so wouldn’t you think it would want to feature Smart dancing? You know, what he’s known for?
We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there is not one scene focused on Smart showcasing his amazing dance skills. Why would that not be something the reboot would want to include? If you’ve ever seen him dance, then you know just how fabulous he is. What. A. Waste.
2. The acting
Don’t get me wrong, there are some stellar stars in Dirty Dancing. The acting also isn’t terrible the entire time, but pretty much most of the time. From Breslin to Messing to Sagal to Hyland to Bruce Greenwood to Williams, the cast is beyond impressive. However, sometimes the acting just isn’t up to par. It’s confusing how these actors and actresses, who have made some exemplary TV series’ and films, are able to act so terribly.
3. Pretty much everything else
It is basically just pure awkwardness. If you’re someone who sometimes covers your eyes when watching TV or a movie because it is so uncomfortable, get ready to do that a lot here.
You can catch Dirty Dancing Wednesday, May 24 at 8/7c on ABC.