Criticism | The Five – ‘Fitness’ spin-off has sex, drugs and rock’ n roll

Since the premiere of the soap opera “Malhação” on Rede Globo in 1995, audiences have followed developments in the world of young people and young adults through open television. Since then, there have been 27 seasons – some more successful than others – but never having extended a squad for more than a year. Until 2020, when the series “ As Five ” debuted on Globoplay – a spin-off from the hit season “ Viva a Diferença ”, 2017.

Five years have passed since the graduation of the group of friends. Keyla Maria (Gabriela Medvedovski) now deals with the difficulties of being a single mother of a five-year-old and not having a social life; Ellen (Heslaine Vieira) has just arrived from the United States, where she attends college and is engaged, but begins to wonder if life abroad is really what she wants; in turn, Tina (Ana Hikari) doubts her relationship with Anderson (Juan Paiva); Lica (Manoela Aliperti) has no goal in life, but now her mother will no longer support her and she will have to discover that in order to earn money you have to work; and Benê (Daphné Bozaski), who, after discovering that her boyfriend, Guto (Bruno Gadiol), is gay, goes on an arduous journey in search of his own sexuality.

With only six episodes of around half an hour each and five protagonists with different conflicts and cores, the first season of “ The Five ” attempts to embrace many themes, but with the limited production time, it does is accelerated in many moments and not dives into anything that it offers. This ends up hurting the series as a whole, which with so much potential and great performance delivers a punched-out result, which confuses and causes weirdness, as if we’ve missed something. The episodes almost always end with the interruption of a scene, which is not repeated in the following episode; at other times, laziness strikes the script of Jasmin Tenucci, Francine Barbosa, Vitor Brandt, Luna Grimberg and Cao Hamburger, who literally abandons certain elements in the middle of the road (one example is when Benê leaves Tonico on the field of football, a neighbor she just met, to run to the hospital, and when Keyla stops to look for her, she doesn’t even ask about her son, and that’s okay).

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Despite these slippages, “As Five” matures beloved mainstream characters a lot in 2017. The themes, always a little silly and shallow on open TV, now on Globoplay, are getting more serious and realistic. Everything that was previously understood is now explained: the characters turn out to be gay, lesbian or bisexual; hypocrisy is neglected and they now use drugs, alcohol etc. Through this new narrative line, secondary characters are highlighted, such as the lesbian relationship Limantha (Lica + Samantha, interpreted by Giovanna Grigio), now naturalized to the public; and the relationship between Benê and Nem (Thalles Cabral), the mysterious neighbor full of charisma who steals the show as soon as he appears, with his pretty emogothic gaze.

It’s nice to see how these characters – who were shown to be very ripe even when they made their debut – have matured a lot, even though they still feel lost in life. Now the series more honestly reflects the feelings and dramas of its target audience and loses the fear of speaking openly about the real concerns of young people – as seen in similar productions like ‘Euphoria’ and ‘Sex Education’ , showing that Brazil can and must rather engage in sincere dialogue with young people. And this is the great merit of “The Five”: with well-known characters and popular dramas, it seems more like we are seeing our friends in trouble, not just watching a series. Fortunately, the second season is already confirmed.

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